Writing Prompt: “Tell me about your relationship with coffee.”
Coffee has been there my entire life. I have a scar from when I was age 3 or 4 and I reached across the breakfast table to take something from my sister and I knocked the percolator pot onto my left forearm. My mom rushed in from the kitchen, picked me up, and put me in the tub with my arm under cold water. It was a miserable experience, but I have a souvenir from it.
My parents drank Folger’s and MJB. I still remember the jingles:
“The best part of waking up is Folger’s in your cup” and “MJB tastes good when it should.”
As a preacher’s kid, the Fellowship Halls of the churches my dad served always smelled like coffee. Bad coffee. The kind that comes in a can from the grocery store. Brewed in large percolators. Church people drank coffee, but not that much of it. I would guess most of it got poured down the drain. If you were to ask me at age 10 to name the sacraments of the church, I would have said Baptism, Communion, and Percolating Coffee.
I started drinking coffee in high school. In the summer between my sophomore and junior years, my mom would wake me up with the newspaper, to see how the Chicago Cubs were doing, and a cup of coffee, to get me out of bed. A month before the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, I had my first espresso at the original Bookshop Santa Cruz location. I was disappointed. I think I thought I was ordering something like a mocha with milk and chocolate and whipped cream. Instead I got a tiny dram of acrid sludge. Eventually, I learned what to order.
After college, I took a year off from school and lived and worked in Santa Cruz. One of my jobs was as a barista at Espresso Royale downtown. I prided myself on being able to make espresso drinks quickly. When I went to graduate school at Harvard Divinity School, I studied at coffee shops in Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston. I guess you could say my theology is greatly influenced by coffee.
I think it’s clear that I’m addicted to the stuff, but it’s an addiction that enhances my life. I have two 12-ounce cups every morning before 8:00 a.m. My coffee maker has a timer. The smell of coffee is my only alarm clock. I like dark roast. I like it rather strong with a splash of half-and-half and a teaspoon of raw sugar.
I don’t drink coffee throughout the day. If I have it in the afternoon, it will put me to sleep. I’ve given it up for stretches of time, the withdrawal gives me a raging headache at the place where my skull meets my neck. This last for 3 or 4 days and then I’m fine. But I always go back.
I’m glad to know that, according to some experts, coffee has various health benefits. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
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