Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Grinding Away on Coffee

Josh McDowell once wrote that man has three options when it comes to our opinions concerning Jesus; he must either be Lord, Liar, or Lunatic. His outrageous claims really leave us no other options. Jesus's words bring us to a point of decision because he left no room for indifference.

Similarly, everyone in America must come to some kind of opinion concerning coffee. Next to Opera, coffee stands as the greatest force in our culture. Could you imagine America without coffee? Me neither. It stands so prevalently that everyone over the age of 18 must come to some opinion on it if he/she engages our culture at any level (socially, occupationally, educationally, etc.).

Here is my story.

Most folks succumb to the temptation of coffee in college. Lots of classroom material combined with lots of social interactions equaled lots of early morning hours studying for exams or completing lab reports. I rarely drank coffee in college though. If I found myself sleepy or knew I had a long night waiting, I committed the unthinkable crime: an eight-hour night of sleep. One night, I went to bed at 10:30, only to hear my hallmate knock on the door at 10:40 looking to play Mario Tennis on the Nintendo 64. When my roomie and the dark room revealed my early nocturnal decision, he cussed out Nate and eventually the walls as he returned to his room. Under the covers, I smiled. A chuckle or two slipped out.

Occasionally, I gave in to peer pressure and had a cup. Hey, everyone else was doing it at 11p.m. Why not me? I had exams tomorrow too. Given my 160-pound frame and lack of tolerance, sweet tea and Coca-Cola could easily get me going. A cup of coffee would never let me stop. After one particularly late night, I had a morning cup of coffee before heading to a three exam day. The caffeine finally hit during the second exam. I started shaking and did poorly on the exam because my excited hand could not fill in the precise answer bubbles.

I was one of the minority who made it through college without a coffee addiction.

Enter Borders. Borders does not pay a whole lot, but it does provide me with two things: health insurance and free coffee. There is a book I recently shleved in the Travel section. It's called "The Cheap Bastard's Guide to Boston." If I were to make just one cover of a book in the whole store, I'd be the guy bending over to pick up the penny in front of Fanueil Hall. I may or may not be a bastard, but I'm definitely cheap.

So I started having health insurance and I started drinking coffee because they were free. If it's there, it would be financially irresponsible not to take advantage. Plus, it's more fun than water. I usually indulge in a cup while shelving in the morning, sometimes in an iced version with my lunch, and on occasion in a cup for the road. Never all three but sometimes a combination of two. It's free. I'm cheap. Fill 'er up.

Last Saturday, they were late filling up our pot. I had a headache. I said as much to Paul, my boss, and he responded with a deep and haughty chuckle. "You didn't drink coffee before you got here, eh? We've converted another," he bellowed. I didn't know it was a religion, but I am learning. You see, Paul thinks caffeine is a drug. He says we all have our drug of choice. He also says coffee is the gateway drug, that pretty soon I'll be doing heroin. He's kidding, I think.

The really odd thing about coffee is that it tastes really, really bad in its purest form. Now, I have decided that someone who drinks his coffee black cannot complain about its taste. It's like complaining about the cold weather while refusing to wear closed-toed shoes in the winter. Ergo, this is a mere observance and not a complaint. The stuff is nasty. It tastes like burn. This should not surprise, as coffee really isn't much more than dirt water. We take dirt that has smoothly clumped together enough to be renamed "bean" because it sounds cleaner. We pulverize it back to dirt form, and we run hot water over it. The result is coffee.

Still, drinking black coffee is an easier way to establish my, er, one's masculinity than, say, ripping off clumps of chest hair, Snickers.

I'm finally hooked on coffee. When I put sugar or flavor shots in it, I genuinely desire it. I get headaches on my days off, days which are still incidentally better than days at work. So there you have it, my unavoidable encounter with coffee. I drink it.

Oh, and I think Jesus is Lord, too.


chris.pappa said...

The "lord, liar, lunatic" trilemma is actually adopted from the beginning of C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity (the best book written other than the Bible).

I am currently indifferent to coffee...have I not yet had my chance to choose whether coffee is either a liar or a lunatic?

I'm thinking lunatic...

Jeff said...

Black coffee = manly
nuff said.
Best Black coffee i've found is Caribou's Dark Roast (they only do it before noon)
or Maxwell House Dark Roast

Oakley said...

Welcome to the Dark Side buddy, we have much more fun I can promise you. I prefer a mixture of Maxwell House decaf and Dark French press. I've actually read some pretty well done studies on the performance enhancing effects of coffee on cyclists when they drank it 30 mins before a workout. On another note, i'm going to need thursday or friday's blog to be about how Carolina clawed their way back to destroy Duke.......for the glory of God of course.......

Tammy said...

the fact that in massachusetts, there is a Dunkin' Donuts every block, with plenty of independently run coffee shops in between, is a testimony to the mighty power of the bean. Which does not come from dirt, at least not any more than bananas or strawberries or any other fruit does.
I more often drink tea these days, though. I can drink it without any additives, so it saves me some calories. And those troublesome withdrawal headaches.
You can go ahead and drink your coffee black, if that makes you feel better; I'll take cream and sugar with mine, thanks.