It’s another chilly morning here in Star, Idaho, just outside of Boise. I hate the cold. I wonder if there is such a thing as polar fleece underwear.
Still in bed, in the early morning darkness, it’s not quiet. Gary’s gentle snoring is occasionally punctuated by our dog Henry’s sleeping sighs. Claire, our delicate and rather neurotic border collie, is unconscious in the corner, behind the chair, chasing sheep in her dreams, with noisy fits and starts.
If I really wanted to, I could sleep through all of this, but I can’t.
Before falling asleep last night, Gary mumbled: “I can’t wait to get up and have coffee.” I couldn’t agree more.
Coffee is complicated. Espresso, even more so. But after wearing out four espresso makers, we’ve gone to the Dark Side of Coffee Preparation: The Keurig. How lazy can a person be. But it’s not laziness, really, it’s necessity. It calls to me in the early morning hours. Once I hear the call, I must obey: Java Lust.
The longest 27 seconds EVER is what it takes for my half-and-half to heat up to the perfect temperature (just shy of boiling) while the Keurig sputters to life and makes wheezing sounds that I hope I never make. (Gary makes those same sounds occasionally though, which scares me.) But that’s not important now.
My head is too close to the microwave as I watch my favorite mug from Okinawa travel in orbits, picking up heat as it goes. I haven’t seen anything this beautiful since sunrise at the Grand Canyon.
Hurry! Grab the mug and place it in the Keurig…pick the cup size…BREW, dammit, before the half-and-half cools. The Keurig does its job and I reach for my cup.
The first sip is the best. Yes, it’s hot enough! Morning has officially arrived.
I’m safe now; instead of stumbling through the house, running into furniture and dropping the F-bomb before 6:00 am. I can focus. With the second gulp, I can make it safely all the way across the hall from the kitchen to my computer. Coffee keeps my head from hitting the keyboard. Two sips later, the inevitable: My coffee is cooling.
Damn the Cooling Coffee Gods! Back to the microwave.
But coffee is a fickle mistress. If I hadn’t broken down and had that little, teeny, tiny Irish Coffee at my friend’s house at 5:00 pm yesterday, I bet I would have gotten a decent night’s sleep. I don’t pass up good coffee with a friend; it can be harder to find than good espresso anywhere in the state of Utah.
Back and forth I go. Eventually I start making a second cup and I hear Gary padding around the bathroom. He’s every bit as obsessed with coffee as I am, with one crucial difference: He doesn’t care as much about the temperature of coffee as I do. I married him anyway; he can bake like nobody’s business. I love that in a man.
Because I am the more conscious member of the household, I make Gary’s coffee and we sit down in our dim living room, watching the flames flit around the fireplace. I’m one coffee up on him and he keeps forgetting to drink his. Caffeine is coursing through my veins like a F-1 race car…while Gary stares into space and, oddly, has little to say. I’ve already forgotten what it’s like to just wake up. Just trying to keep it real.
But if coffee IS Heaven, is there coffee in Hell? These are the things I ponder in the wee hours, when I’ve had coffee after 4:00 pm. Should I even worry about this? Will I be going to Heaven or Hell? I have no idea, but I think I should hedge my bets. Let me explain.
I had a deranged sophomore high school biology teacher named David O. Raymond. He was big on always saying the “O,” as if it made him sound more humanoid.
David O. Raymond was a giant Frankenstein of a man who lurched around the biology lab snarling at his students with bitter sarcasm and a Lucky Strike wedged between his thin lips. Ah, the good old days when you could smoke in the classroom. When he wasn’t snarling, he was the drama coach of such fabulous high school productions as “John Brown’s Body.” Surely you must have heard about our famous 1971 production? He was a dark and stormy man.
Anyway, one day, before our biology exam, DOR took it upon himself to expound on his theory of personal karma. He explained, as the ashes fell from his cigarette and he used up our valuable test-taking time, that we all have soul t-shirts that we receive when we are born. They are completely white. As we stumble through life and do ludicrous and deplorable things, little black spots appear on our soul t-shirts. When we die, the color of our t-shirt determines the quality of our afterlife.
This information had nothing to do with the exam, which, as I recall, was about the human reproductive system. I think I passed, but I’m not sure. That could explain a lot.
It probably isn’t a coincidence that, as of this writing, there are 32 shirts or sweaters in my closet that range from gray to black. And a measly two white items that I never wear because I always get black ink on them. That should tell you something.
I think about my soul t-shirt from time to time. I am fairly sure that I’m not Heaven material. Between what I can remember about what I’ve done and what I’ve repressed, the scale seems to tip precariously toward the Hell side of things. I plan to take a bribe with me, just in case it helps…I’m thinking a case of earplugs to drown out the accordion music, if The Far Side is correct. And Gary, being Gary, will take a camera. Or two.
The only thing that I know about Hell is that it’s damned hot there. So, being the half-full-glass kind of gal that I am, I figure that there IS a bright side to going to Hell:
My coffee will never get cold.
Thanks for reading. I know how busy you are.