Somewhere in the middle of the day and in the middle of everything there is a tinkling bustle and a fragrant confusion. I find myself in a coffee shop. Stenches number in the thousands here and it would take a trained nose to detect all of these aural notes but, always, I would be able to discern that smell of coffee even among rotting corpses. I could tell you the bean, its country of origin, and most elusive, which of the waitresses brewed it. This I do without prompt or intention. It is my way. Alas, this compulsion is also my hell. Though, I have lately made strives to become its master I wonder if I have this tawny brown tiger by its spoon shaped tail. Any moment now someone will unknowingly call upon my will and challenge the monkey on my back to scratch. Any moment. This moment.
“Howdy Doodies, I’m Cappucina, I’ll be your waitress. Would you like something to drink?”
“No thank you. I won’t be having any coffee, BITCH!”
“Okay, how ‘bouts a cup of coffee?”
“NO thank you, no coffee please.”
“Well I could always bring you a nice cup of coffee.”
“Hear me malevolent whore. I don’t want coffee.”
“Great, I’ll bring you a cup of coffee and a menu.”
“Give me a chicken, or bread, or food. Prostitute your brown urine to some other suckling cockroach.”
“You don’t want coffee?”
“No, no coffee, please.”
“Are you sure you don’t want even a leeedle tiny bit of coffee?”
“Not even a molecule.”
“Hey, save some money by getting ‘Bucket O’ Coffee’.”
“I’m sure it’s a real savings, but no, no coffee.”
“Would you like espresso, cappuccino, café au lait, coffee, café con leche, café con carne, iced coffee, coffee or just a big bowl of coffee?”
“What was that last one?”
“A-a-ah a coffee drinker.”
“For the last time before I am forced to kill someone close to you while you watch, no thank you, I won’t be having any coffee.”
“Okay then, I can freshen up your coffee and bring you your check.”
“I have not ordered yet.”
“J. Walter Christmas, I must be some kind of cross-eyed slack jawed, silly bimbo of a fool. I am a fool. I am sorry. What can I get you? Cup of coffee to start off and maybe you would like to try the Colombian Coffee Chicken Salad? Oh no, wait, try the Coffee Steak. Its to die for.”
“Just a piece of pie. No coffee.”
“No coffee? You always drink coffee.”
“We’ve never met.”
“Right! You NEVER drink coffee. Okay one piece of coffee cake coming right up.”
“APPLE pie. I am going to go with the apple pie.”
“Wait, let me check if there’s any coffee cake left.”
“No thank you. The apple, I think I’ll go with the apple pie today.”
“That’s the strangest thing I have heard since about thirteen seconds ago, when I was born. No coffee. Just pie. Okay crazy man! I’ll bring it right over.”
Damn her, she’s poured me a cup of coffee and brought it over.
“Look at that, I totally forgot that you canceled your coffee order. I poured it any way. Here, have this one at half price.”
My mind screams “NO” while my brain purrs “YEEEESSSS”. The coffee is in front of me. I know what I must do. I must make it an accursed thing in my mind to be able to resist it. It’s so hot. It’s the hottest coffee I have ever seen. It is as hot as the sun. Some voice from below the earths very mantle suggests this boiling potion should be in my lap. I comply with the Satanic command. Yowch , mamacita, grand, high-exalted, mystic-ruler, it hurts. Oh sure it hurts but so does Love. Love generally doesn’t sting, unless you’re in prison. That can sting. But my purification is not complete. “WAITRESS!”
“What is it sir, like some tea?”
Still in searing pain I ask. “Half and half please.” As I pour it generously over my second and third degree burns I complete the ritual. “Some sugar please.”
“How many lumps?”
“I don’t know let me see.” Must I always do these breast exams out of the office. It hurts my professional pride. I proceed with a most professional dexterity. “Hmmm, no irregularities, no unusual hardness. None my dear. You are in perfect health. Can I have some sugar?”
“ You just got some (looking down at her breasts). But you wanted sweetener… No.”
“Okay.” It’s really tough to stir the sugar into ones pants anyhow. I am still very proud of myself for not weakening, and drinking this coffee.
It is very difficult to quit cold turkey though. In fact when I quit cold turkey I would still eat it warmed up on turkey sandwiches and stuff. I won’t even taste turkey roll unless it’s been burned beyond blackness.
Oh no the waitress again.
“Did YOU order the cold turkey salad?”
“NO.” Back to coffee, gee it smells good. Hmmm, I guess one little sip wouldn’t break my vow. Where is that waitress? Hey, these pants got plenty of java in ‘em. I’ll just get them off and wring them out into this cup. There, Coffee au Slacks. Mmmm, it doesn’t suck. But I do. Suck that is, in order to get the rest of the coffee out of my trousers.
I have tried everything to quit. The coffee patch, drinking my coffee through complex filter systems, methadone, and even the controversial TV submersion technique.
TV submersion requires round the clock viewing with both eyeballs pressed firmly on the cathode ray tube of a television. That’s when I discovered that I could still drink my coffee through a straw. Now with two addictions I sought a hobby that might help me beat them through distraction. Stupid me, instead of all those creative and involving hobbies like hook-rug, homosexuality, and amateur-dentistry, I took up killing. I picked up a couple of How-To videos (80 snappy Ways To Kill With Produce and Henry – Lessons For The Serial Killer) and became very involved. I joined interest groups (The 23rd Street Chapter of Geeks Who Slay and The Angry Minority Club). Oh how I loved those meetings, the talks, the songs, the field trips. But lo, I had to quit. Who in hell knew, KILLIN’S ILLEGAL!
Coffee shops give me a chubby. I’ll tell you why. There’s coffee in ‘em. Lots. Enough coffee to make even a really big guy burst like an overripe melon in the hot sun. Coffee is important. It fights crime. It weds single mothers. It obliterates uncertainty and replaces it with dangerous abandon. It is better than sex because it is not gloppy. I la-la-love it. And every body who is any body should because God decreed it in Convolutions, Chapter 50, Act II: “…and thine that swilleth the brown elixir of the coffee beans juicy bounty shall be ten-fold, for that which is not sucky but really great and also get chicks. So sayeth the Lord with heavy cream.”
So here I find myself at Moe’s Jo’ Sto’.
Eureka, Xanadu. I love to watch a true artisan pour the perfect cup of java. But I do find it mysterious how they all seem to suffer middle ear disturbances when pouring a refill, landing at least 60 to 70% of the coffee in the saucer.
Coffee is like life. Its dark and scalding. It makes your breath stink and your feces as fluid as broth. It breaks your heart and makes your armpits foam. But most of all I hate when I have hit my limit and ask for one more. It is said, that somewhere around cup number thirty, one might find ones self in a psychotic episode. Let me tell you, that sounds like a piece of pie when compared to a particular experiences when I didn’t know when to say “When”.
I was on cup number 420 and in my fourteenth psychotic episode. Suffice it to say I was not feeling well. I had recklessly ordered the Cote de Bouef at a vintage diner (by vintage I mean most of the poorly refrigerated food had begun to ferment). Now, though it was a rumor, it was considered too strange a coincidence that this unusual Blue Plate Special was being offered only days after the reported theft of the “near complete” remains of a prehistoric wooly mammoth found frozen in arctic ice. Though it might indeed have been a coincidence (The meal smelling just like rotten elephant meat dead for aeons) the most suspicious thing was the huge tusks decorating the back wall. I ate it with all trust and paid for it in the end.
“I don’t feel so good there Cookie.”
Cookie was a hulking man with the body of a greasy mountain and a face like a bowl of sausages. He quickly acknowledged my distress. “What’s wrong? Is the food rotten? Is it like a rancid dead flesh taste that’s burning ya guts to get out?”
“Does it feel like you just found the family cat, after four days of looking, jammed behind the refrigerator, leaking a thin black liquid from every opening, and then eating it.”
“The cat, not the liquid?”
“Yeah, a little liquid, but mostly cat.”
“I would have to say its more like having a hedgehog die, wretching, in ones small intestine.”
“Hmmmm. Uncomfortable, no?”
“Yes. I should say.” I grunted through the discomfort.
“I have just the thing. A nice strong cup of Jo’.” Ah, Cookie was always so good that way. And the coffee worked! I felt better almost immediately as the pain passed and turned into profuse sweating and a merciful delirium. It was fun, in a way, vomiting when I got home.
If all of my problems could be washed away so easily. Coffee has a way of putting things in perspective and I believe that’s the key to happiness. This principle would come into clearer focus on another coffee fueled bender weeks after my hospital stay. The sorry looking soul that sat down next to me put my worries into perspective with no doubt. His was a sobering story of woe.
He leaned over and sighed. “My wife has left me.”
“Sorry to hear that friend.”
“My son is not my son.”
“Who’s is he?”
“I don’t know man. My wife did it herself with a bar of glycerine soap and a tuning fork. I knew there was a reason he was so short and has his stomach on the outside.”
“Well he has been growing like a weed these last few days. I think he’s eleven inches now.”
“Growing like a weed?”
“Yea, you know. He has these strange little flowers instead of hair.”
“How many heads?”
“I’m sorry. I’m sure he’s still a wonderful little man.”
“And smart as a whip. He’ll always be my boy. Damn it all I swore I wasn’t going to cry. Waaaa-waaaaa-waaa.”
“Chin up, you still have your famil… oops.”
Just then Cookie comes by with a steaming cup of the obscure philter. “Hey amigo, spill some of that down yer talkie-hole.”
Our sad friend looked up at him plaintiffly and began to sip. A delicate calm seemed to wash over his furrowed face.
Yes perspective, that is the key. A commodity in this day and age of our self-involved woe-mongering society. Next walked in a man that would put greener grass on our side of the fence. He bled from a wound on his head.
“Oh God In Heaven. There’s been an accident!” He gasped.
“Say, what happened?” I was all concern.
“Oh those poor, wretched children!”
“You don’t mean Menudo?” Cookie asked foolishly.
“No I’m sure they’re fine. No I-I-I have hit some people with my car. There’s blood, there’s teeth, ah Jesus, Pepsi all over the pearlized paint. It’s horrible. Ah God, how will I ever get the hood ornament out of that priests head. I’m in hell! Can any one help me pry that kids legs out of the wheel well?”
I tried to help; “Someone get this man a phone!”
But Cookie had a better idea. And a brimming cup of it came sliding down the counter. The guy sat down, plugged a finger in the sputtering hole in his head and began to sip. “Well, I do have no-fault insurance. Damn it all. Whose gonna miss a noisy bunch of five-year-olds anyhow? How about some cream down here Fleshy?”
Then came in a man that would show all of us the meaning of suffering. A guy that knew exactly what it sounds like to have the Devil fart right in his face. Clearly he was rather distracted. Wearing a pilots cap, he was squirting blood out of his armless shoulder sockets and making a terrible mess. “Plane crash, hundreds dead. Children’s Hospital dashed. I only had a couple of drinks. I always finish off at least 120 ounces before I can even look at a cockpit! Agh the sheer carnage. I can’t believe it. I was only a mere 30 miles to the East of the runway. Oh, oh, new horror, I got an itch.”
Cookie said “Hey chief, grab a seat.” You can tell what was on Cookies mind. He poured another cup of that harsh smelling swill. It blopped into to cup like black strap molasses. The poor devil suddenly relaxed and reached for the cup with his nub. I saw the need. “Allow me.” I lifted the cup to his lips.
“Thanks, that was delicious.” The look of relief that filled his remaining eye touched something in us (probably the wretch reflex). But then Cookie got the man a good long straw and we could turn away.
As we turned so as not to vomit in any of the wounds Cookie looked at me and asked a plaintiff question. “Hey chum, wouldn’t it be great if all I had to do to help those in trouble was pour em’ all a cup of Jo’?”
“You’re doing just fine, Cookie my man.”
“It must be the blend.”
“What is it French Roast? Colombian? Quentin Tarantino’s Brand?”
“I simply brew the coffee I get from the Fresh Roasted Human Bean. It’s chock full o’ gunk.”
“Mmmmm. Nummy, nummy, people gunk. It’s a natural. Tastes better than pesto.”
Cookie filled his barrelled chest with a prideful breath. “I’m only a man, but my coffee? It kicks pesto’s butt, but good. Like another cup?”
I looked into my bone dry java receptacle and nodded. “Mo’Jo’Po’Fa-Vo”