Life goes better with coffee
The first thing I do each morning, as I stumble about the kitchen, is perk two cups of coffee. Then, I sit in the den with a mug in my right hand and a book in my left hand, while my “dog shadow,” Madisyn, snuggles beside me. I am man enough to admit that coffee provides me with a “kick.” (Perhaps it isn’t strange that, in all my years in parish work, I never preached on addictions!)
During the remainder of the day, I limit my intake of caffeine because, as a wag once put it, “If your intake exceeds your output, your upkeep will be your downfall.” I try valiantly to survive caffeine-free ... unless I’m traveling.
When my wife and I are on the road, and a bright red sign – Tim Hortons Always Fresh – looms in the distance, neither of us needs much encouragement to yield. A gospel song includes the words, “Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin.” I’ve often replaced the word “sin” with “fun,” in a vain effort to justify my penchant for caffeine. “It makes the trip go better, doesn’t it, Sherry?” I ask my better half. “Yes, dear.” One night, when it was raining cats ’ n dogs, we were again on the road. We had finished shopping and were in the car, headed home from a nearby town. There, ahead of us, beckoned that sign – Tim Hortons Always Fresh. Temptation strong assailed us as we imagined someone blaring a mantra from the loudspeaker, “We have caffeine. You need caffeine. Stop for caffeine.”
“I will if you will.” At least on this issue, my wife and I are of the one mind. “Yes, dear.” I dutifully indicated a lefthand turn, slowed and swerved onto the Tim Hortons parking lot. There were no other customers ahead of us, so we were assured of swift service.
We coasted to a stop. I lowered my window and waited for the waitress to say enticingly, “Welcome to Tim Hortons. May I take your order please?”
I dug into my pocket for change; Sherry scrounged her purse for the “widow’s mite” to add to what I had.
No welcoming voice. No warm invitation to place our order. Rain pounded my face on this wet, cold, dank, miserable night ... a night that could only be made better by the “elixir of life.”
“Unusual,” I thought. I spoke to my travelling partner, a modicum of frustration sounding in my voice, understood only by those who are in dire need of a caffeine fix.
“Why isn’t she speaking?” I wondered aloud. “She must know we’re here, and there aren’t any customers ahead of us. Whatever can be keeping her?”
By now, the silence was deafening, but for the rain beating on the car roof.
Suddenly, I heard a titter from Sherry. Glancing across at her, I saw a smile crease her face, then she broke into a hearty laugh.
“What’s so funny?” I asked, feeling a stronger need than ever for a black, sugarless coffee.
“Burton,” she said amid howls of laughter, “I don’t think she speaks from the garbage box!”
“Look where you stopped,” she instructed. “We’re at the garbage disposal unit. Drive ahead and place your order at the speaker, like everybody else. We might get served then.” “Yes, dear.” I was embarrassed and humiliated. I drove ahead and placed our order ... a regular for me and a decaf for Sherry. I made her promise not to tell anyone of my error and, to this date, she has faithfully kept her word.
Coffee consumption has been on my lips – and my mind – recently, especially after reading an article in our provincial newspaper.
“One of life’s simple pleasures just got a little sweeter,” Marilynn Marchione reports for the Associated Press from Milwaukee. “After years of waffling research on coffee and health ... a big study finds the opposite: coffee drinkers are a little more likely to live longer. Regular or decaf doesn’t matter.” Such news can only warm the cockles of the heart of a coffee drinker. If what she says is true, then I will live forever.
The study, involving 400,000 people, “is the largest ever done on the issue.” The results reassure the caffeine lover that his guilty pleasure may not be so harmful after all.
The lead researcher, Neal Freedman, suggests, “There may actually be a modest benefit of coffee drinking.”
Meanwhile, Frank Hu, of the Harvard School of Public Health, has some advice for coffeeholics. First, take it easy on the sugar and cream. Second, drink filtered coffee rather than boiled.
Now, I wonder what the researchers found out about tea.