It has been exactly one week without coffee. The last coffee I had was on Monday, October 17. I’m still getting caffeine though, from the nineteen cups of green tea I drink each day—okay, there I go again, really it amounts to about four big mugs. I realize I have not really had much water in the last week—perhaps that is why all my aches and pains are still with me.
I give up coffee from time to time. I have this belief that it is the root of all my bodily woes. Also, I have a small hiatal hernia and coffee really irritates it. One time a year or so ago I gave it up, and whoosh, in a matter of days all my little aches and pains, and my stomach problems vanished.
This time my aches aren’t leaving so quickly. Of course, I think the last time I gave up coffee I also gave up sugar and beer, wine, all the bad things. This time I only gave up coffee. Yesterday I ate about 20 Oreo cookies. (It really is America’s favorite cookie!) This is not an exaggeration—I didn’t eat the whole package though, so I guess that’s good.
Why does coffee have to be so bad for me? Well, I suppose it’s possibly bad because I like my coffee really strong. We used to get our coffee from Juice and Java, and we were kind of like coffee snobs—we didn’t like the flavored coffees—vanilla bean, hazelnut, pumpkin spice—that kind of thing (though once, a long, long time ago, we couldn’t get enough of those kinds of coffees) — no, most recently we were the dark roast folks. We loved the roastmasters, French roast, European roast, even Breakfast Blend. It is very hard for me to write this. I am salivating all over my keyboard…
But then Starbucks came to town, two of them in fact, and they are both unbelievably close to our home, which if you saw it, you would not believe there was a Starbucks, or even a supermarket, within an hour of us. It’s that rural. We can actually pitch our leaves over the bank out back. No neighbors close enough to mind. I leave copper wind chimes out in the trees and they clang all winter, what with the howling gusts of wind and all, and no one complains. You’d think it would bother us, but truthfully, it has become a normal sound to me. I guess I think of it now as the sound of the wind. The wind jangles and clangs. It has a forlorn kind of melody.
So anyway, we started going to Starbucks and badgering the manager to put in wireless, as if we would sit there with our laptops and cell phones and swill dark roast all day long. (We wouldn’t, or I wouldn’t anyway, our pugs don’t like being left to themselves. Even now they are crowded in a pleasing warm-pudding kind of way near my feet.)
I was coming home from a rather miserable agility trial in Westfield a few weeks ago, miserable because the first day was completely sodden (it rained all the night before and then all day of the trial). The teeter board exited into a pond 8-inches deep. Lucky I had the water loving dog (Buddha) with me, and not Brahma. Brahma is a little dicey around bodies of water. Buddha gamely took jumps and didn’t slide off the table. But, blast, he was distracted by a puddle in the middle of the weave poles and he lost his focus. (Also he dropped a few jump bars.) The second day was dry, but we were buffeted by wintery blasts, and I was just so not prepared. The first day I had no raincoat, and the second day, well, that’s all I had (weather.com predicted rain all weekend), and the raincoat just wasn’t very warm. I sat there shivering uncontrollably for most of the day, and at one point I took the dogs and sat in my car, with the heat on.
Anyway, it was late afternoon, and I really felt like I deserved a coffee. Isn’t this really what it’s all about—all contemporary cravings (for coffee, or chocolate or a glass of wine) isn’t it this feeling that we somehow deserve it? I read somewhere (probably in Nutrition Action) that fancy coffee drinks, even at their exorbitant prices (and I’m not just talking about monetary price, here) sell well because the same Americans who would not order a Friendly’s super sundae (or whatever) everyday, will have a double caramel cappuccino with just as many calories as the sundae. They would order these coffee drinks partially because they didn’t realize they were as bad as a sundae, but really, the article pointed out, Americans felt like they needed a little treat or reward every day. This is exactly why I drank coffee. It was my little reward for dragging my lazy butt out of bed.
So I stopped into the Northampton Starbucks, which was hopping—there were Smith students studying and highlighting papers at one table, stylish older women gazing at the confections in the case, an old couple who looked like they belonged in a canoe somewhere, ahead of me in line. You couldn’t hear music that was playing, for all the clamor. The dark roast listed on the board was Italian.
“I’ll have a tall Italian,” I said. “With dark hair, smoky eyes, and he’s got to be tall. Didn’t I say that?”
The barista gave me a withering look. “Right.”
Coffee is fun like that. You can’t do that with tea. Really, there are no tea houses in my town. I wish there were. It is hard to go grocery shopping and pass Juice and Java, and both Starbucks, and not go in and drop a couple bucks on a steaming cup of comfort, even if it does tear up my stomach and make my joints all creaky and broken.
I feel somehow, by denying myself this pleasure, like I’ve been punished in some way. There is no more reward.
(Unless you count those 20 Oreo cookies…)