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Monday, April 13, 2015

Why I drink coffee. (It's not what you think.)

Good afternoon!

Most of you know I love all things coffee.  I am, yes, one of those people who doesn't go too many places without a travel mug in my hand.  I don't even go to church without a travel mug of coffee.  I used to drink coffee all day long, morning, noon, and late into the night.  Then I got older and realized that my endless coffee consumption might have something to do with my sleeping problems.  So now I only drink coffee in the morning...until about 1 Pm.  I still don't sleep, but at least I knot it's not because I'm drinking beautiful, lovely, delicious coffee all day long.

Coffee is one of those few legal things that isn't fattening, at least not on its own.  (Much like the potato, it's what we do with coffee to make it more magical that also makes it bad for us.)  I can't quite drink it black, but I'm getting closer.  However, there's something to be said about a big travel mug of thick, buttery gas station cappuccino, which was my first real coffee addition drink of choice.  (Thank you for that to my good friend Julie.)

It hasn't always been that way.  Growing up, my father, a parochial school principal and later a high school English teacher, drank coffee like some people now drink bottled water.  He was never without his American Eagle coffee mug.  (No not a mug from American Eagle, the store.  A mug with an American flag and an eagle on it.)  He was a purist when it came to coffee.  He never brought that mug home because when he did, my mother would wash it, which, he ascertained, ruined the flavor of the coffee.  During the seventies, when coffee was expensive and when people said coffee was bad for you (mostly because it was so ridiculously expensive, buying it often caused stress on the pocketbook and the heart) my mother tried and make dear old dad drink Postum. 

That's NOT COFFEE!  That's barely anything more than brown water.  And, much like yellow snow, one should not drink brown water.  Just sayin'.

Mom tried a lot of things over the course of their 49 years together to get my dad off the coffee, but nothing worked.  Because why?  Because coffee is awesome, it tastes wonderful, it smells delicious and it works!

Growing up, since my mother was a health food person and very anti food additives, I never woke to the heady smell of bacon.  No, I woke to the even headier (and fat free) smell of brewed coffee. I worked my way through high school and college brewing and pouring the black gold to customers at my local Big Boy restaurant.  But I didn't drink it.  Even in college, where staying up until 2 AM "Studying"  (Because I have pictures of me crawling into small spaces, liked driers, suitcases, that tiny space under my day bed in my dorm room...all of which were, without a doubt, done late at night and on a dare) I didn't drink coffee to keep myself alert during early morning classes.  Or late afternoon classes.  Nope, my ability to stay awake from 6 AM to 2 AM every single day of my life for four years was all based on youth and my ability to "catch up" with a six hour nap every Sunday.

No, I didn't start drinking coffee until late in life, a fact that people find surprising when I tell them.  (Mostly because CLEARLY I'm making up for lost time.) I didn't start really drinking coffee until I was almost 37.  That might be surprising, since most studies say if you avoid an addiction in your teens and younger years, chances are you're just not going to be addicted.  Well, let me explain how it happened that I was well on my way to middle age before I latched on to my several cup a day habit.

Hockey.

Yes, hockey is to blame for the fact that I now always have coffee breath.  Hockey didn't get me started on coffee, but hockey is the reason I drink it every day and loathe the concept of decaf.  (Seriously...decaf? What's the point?)  

See, in my early thirties I dabbled in the world of gas station cappuchino.  (Which isn't coffee, according to purists, but I loved it.)  My friend Julie got me into it.  It wasn't something I drank every day, but if Julie was coming by, I knew we'd be drinking it and I looked forward to that.  I felt like I was grown up, part of a social group.  Sure, I couldn't drink "real" coffee without the pound of sugar and half gallon of fatty goodness in every cup.  But I was holding a coffee cup.  That was enough.

About that same time Hubby and I got serious about being NHL fans.  I grew up near Detroit, so as a kid I was aware of NHL hockey and the Detroit Redwings and when I returned to Detroit as an adult to teach, I developed a passing interest in the sport.  When Hubby's sister got deep into the Colorado Avalanche, hubby learned about the game and, as we tell everyone, a mixed marriage was born.  (Hockey fans get this.)

Anyway, up until very recently, the Detroit Redwings were in the Western Conference.  This had little bearing on our lives since game coverage for hockey on any level is slim to none here in Wisconsin. BUT, during the playoffs, it became a very big deal because here I was,in the Central Time zone, watching playoff games with my beloved Redwings, and they were playing in Western Canada. Some of those games didn't drop the puck until 10 PM my time.  


The late hours didn't matter that much at first.  I worked from home.  I babysat and did a few hours a day as a marketing person for a janitorial company.  I barely had to be conscious the whole day.  Hey,
I could schedule nap time if I wanted to.  But about the time I turned 36, I got myself a real,honest to goodness, get up and go sit at a desk office job.

And then those late night play off games took their toll.  I would show up, bleary eyed to work and that did not sit well with Evil Bossman.  (Remember him?)

That's when I went full on into coffee.  I took a Mr. Coffee coffee maker to work and brewed a pot for myself on game day and the day after.  I still added sugar and creamer, but I was pouring the black stuff down my gullet all day long just so I could stay awake and watch the game.

I don't have one of these.
HOW DO I NOT HAVE
ONE OF THESE?
That's how it started, like any addiction.  "Just on game day" I told myself.  "Only on game day."  That turned into "Just at work. No coffee drinking at home."  Which turned into the "WHY DO I NOT HAVE A COFFEE CUP IN MY HAND" monster I am today.

The NHL has nicely moved the Redwings to the Eastern Conference now, to accommodate my age and the fact that I can't drink coffee 24/7 like I once did. Turns out, I do need sleep in this life.

So there you go friends, now you know 1) it is possible to start an addiction when you are way old enough to know better and 2)  it's play off time again, LET'S GO REDWINGS!






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