Considering that my closest coworkers are in the age range to be my mothers or aunties, I’ve received surprisingly little maternal advice from them. Maybe it’s my “professional demeanor”–I seem like I’m thoroughly put together. They told me I always seem so calm I make the people around me feel calmer. A peaceful aura, a mellow soul. I’m glad I cover up my neuroses so well.
But today, I’m alone with one colleague in the break room, taking the morning cup of coffee that I drink seven days a week around 10:00 AM.
She inquires politely whether I drink coffee every day, and how many cups. Then she suggests I try to cut it out of my routine and limit myself to drinking it socially.
I’m not addicted, I assure her. Dependency’s not for me. I explain that I know the medical issues behind my daily cup. For example, I know the half-life of coffee is five or so hours–which makes it sound radioactive.
But maybe I am a coffee addict? I picture a grizzled alcoholic, clutching his bottle of gin and slurring out his defense to the bartender: “I’m not addicted. I just drink it for the flavor.” Yeah, right, buddy.
After viewing these images, I finally know why I’m confused and pale.
So, what do I like about coffee? The caffeine, the heightened energy when I return to my desk? The slightly bittersweet aftertaste on the back of my tongue?
Or maybe it’s all the happy memories it evokes. You know who you are, the coffee drinkers I love. The coffee milk you made for me when I was a kid and disliked the flavor of plain milk. The cups you made me when we lived together sophomore year with all your equipment lined up on our bookshelf, worthy of a barista. The sludgy Nescafe we drank in Santiago. The mochas and lattes I got with you every Friday at the Thirsty Mind. The cups I watched you sip first in wintry Massachusetts and finally in summertime Wisconsin.
So it might be a social thing after all. I’m never really alone with my cup of joe in hand.