Life goes bet­ter with cof­fee

The Compass - - OPINION - — Bur­ton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His col­umn ap­pears in The Com­pass ev­ery week. He can be reached at bur­tonj@nfld.net

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!”

“What?”

“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.

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