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Coffee, Maybe I’m Expecting Too Much From You

March 20, 2012


Coffee, our relationship is one of mutual dependence: you depend on me to keep you fresh in an airtight container and brew you to the perfect, balanced flavor and temperature using unbleached paper filters and a maker that’s semi-occasionally decalcified, and I depend on you to keep me awake. We complete each other.

But our alliance doesn’t end there.

Coffee, you are the Jeeves to my Wooster, the way  you scrape me out of bed every morning, prop me up, pry open my eyes so that I can shave without blood-letting. The way you lay out my clothes and shine my shoes and fork-split my English muffin, toasting it twice on a low-to-medium setting for optimal crispness. You make me taller, smarter, more attractive. You smooth the disagreeably sharp edges of my world. You remove the bed creases from my face. Sure, you don’t do much for my morning breath, but whatever; in life, there are always tradeoffs. And Tic Tacs.

You are the Alfred to my Batman: extremely resourceful, skilled in the gentlemen’s arts of swordsmanship and archery, fully certified in emergency medical care. When it seems that all hope is lost and our brave hero (that would be me) about to perish, you show up all dapper and austere and eliminate the problem with the utmost propriety and discretion.

Remember when that breakfast waitress accidently poisoned me with decaf? And later, at work, my colleagues discovered me twitching and mumbling, blinded by migraine, curled in a fetal ball on the rarely-hoovered, commercial grade carpet of my office cubicle?  You arrived on the scene, directed them to fashion a makeshift coffee I.V. drip from a jumbo-sized paperclip, hallowed out ball point pen and used Starbuck’s cup plucked from Bob the Sales Guy’s garbage, and snatched me miraculously from the Jaws of Death.  “Field medicine,” you said, with a knowing wink. Then you packed up your kit bag and awesome Samurai sword and bolt-action crossbow and went to teach that breakfast waitress a lesson in personal accountability.

Coffee, for decades you’ve been loyal and dependable to the core. You’ve served selflessly in the background, managing my affairs, stimulant to my mood and bowel, postprandial, social lubricant, hair volumizer and trusted valet. You are truly my “gentleman’s personal gentleman.” Or my “personal gentleman’s gentleman,” if you’d rather.  I have also, at various times, referred to you as my “gentleman’s gentle personal man,” my “gentleperson’s man’s gentles” and my “French Roast homey,” but never to your face because that would make things weird between us.

That’s why it’s difficult for me to say what I’m about to say. I won’t sugarcoat it because I respect you too much and I think it’s important that we clear the air.

Coffee, lately you’re letting me down.

The performance issues were small at first. I’d come home from work and the dirty dishes were still in the sink or the dog hadn’t been walked and there you were, chilling out in your carafe, studying the Dunkin’ Donuts quarterly financial report. I was thinking “What the hell, Coffee?!”, but I didn’t say anything. I bit my tongue.

But when you forgot to schedule the oil change for my Subaru, and then you made those errors on my Federal tax return, claiming a dependency exemption for Sweet & Low as a qualifying relative? I don’t even use artificial sweeteners! If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were trying to get me audited.

Oh, and let’s not forget the capper, the coup de grace of your recent slide into laziness. It says right here in our agreement that you’re to “liberate the Management from unintended engagements, romantic imbroglios and other assorted pinches and stews.” So where were you during this year’s Bachelorette-themed school fundraising auction, in which I was conscripted to participate as one of twenty so-called “Lucky Suitors,” the chattel in the evening’s concluding date auction/most dramatic rose ceremony ever? You utterly failed to fulfill your role in the plan we contrived, to bid up my value and bow out at the final moment, thus leaving me to the capable, well-manicured hands and deep, deep pockets of the dowager Ms. Lavidia Fleshpot. Instead I went for a single bid in the paltry sum of $19, paid out of pity by my poor wife. As if that weren’t insulting enough, later I fell asleep before we could even consummate the transaction. You’re slipping, coffee. You’re really slipping.

Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe I have unreasonable expectations. You have always proven yourself eminently, infinitely capable. There was no problem I could throw at you that you weren’t able to solve. That’s why I’m confident that you’ll solve this problem too. Coffee, you’re the Miracle Worker Chief Engineer. You’re the Scotty to my Captain James Tiberius Kirk! Speaking of which, remember the time when I had that crazy boring website development meeting with the teams from I.S. and corporate marketing right after lunch and I was so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open and I turned to you for help and you shouted “DAMN IT, JIM! I CAN”T CHANGE THE LAWS OF PHYSICS!!” in a Highland Scottish brogue, only it came out of my mouth and everyone stopped and just stared at me? I still get a chuckle out of that.

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