Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Four Quarts and Two Cups

I’m sittin’ by the dock of the bay – a garage bay at the local lube center. My Chevy Cruze is inside getting an oil change. The car’s dashboard display started nagging me about it a few days ago. (Fortunately, no home AI yet tells me when to clean the carpets or mow the lawn, but that must be arriving soon.) I don’t carry around laptops or tablets for waiting times such as these – or even a phone with an internet connection – so I’m jotting in a pocket notebook (the paper kind) with a mechanical pencil. Later I’ll type this up on a home computer and add whatever info from online seems appropriate.

One time-passer I do have besides the notebook is coffee in a carry cup. I’ll almost certainly have a second cup in a mug when I get back home. I’ve written about the history of coffee before so I won’t repeat it. Here I merely mention the drink as one of the simple pleasures in life and as one of the few mind-altering drugs that carries little or no social disapprobation.

I didn’t take to coffee readily. Like most kids (I think), I didn’t understand the attraction. My early experimental sips of the stuff made me wonder if it was just warmed up muddy water scooped up from a dirt driveway pothole after a rain. In fairness, the coffee I sampled at home probably did taste like that. During World War 2, instant coffee, originally developed as an easy to carry and prepare beverage for troops, was extraordinarily popular with civilians as well. My parents were WW2 generation and they continued to make instant coffee at home well into the 1990s. Let’s just say gourmet it wasn’t. Nonetheless, whether at home or in diners, by my senior year of high school I was willing to tolerate coffee provided it contained enough cream and sugar – both of which mask the underlying flavor. Irish coffee wasn’t bad either. It wasn’t until my final year of college that I not only found myself liking coffee but started taking it black, which is still the way I prefer it. Tastes evolve – or perhaps I just started buying better coffee. Besides, leaving out the cream and sugar allows more calories for something else, like a donut. (Anyone who calls that “empty calories” has no proper appreciation for donuts.)

By no means am I a coffee connoisseur. I don’t buy expensive blends or grind beans myself, though I understand those who do. I can taste the difference: just not enough to make me willing to pay $6 for a cup of coffee. I usually buy Colombian blend, though I’m not wedded to a brand. The Folgers in the pic was on sale. There have been claims of correlation between personality and coffee preferences, but I wouldn’t take them too seriously. The only thing the list of “black coffee drinker” attributes got right in my case was (sort of) the coffee mug.

Anyway, I see a fellow waving a bill at me, so my car is ready. With luck I can go a few thousand miles before the vehicle scolds me again. I’m ready to head back home for a second cup of coffee.

Maria Muldaur – Black Coffee


  1. I'm just waiting for the AI robots then they can clean the carpet and mow my lawn. I guess I want it all. The last time I got an oil change I also needed a new battery, so it took longer than normal, and I did a bunch of shopping at Walmart. I sometimes think they are my home away from home. Our world does become futuristic at times the leisurely way it has been planned out. Mechanical transportation, no need to personally raise our own beef or crops--it's all right down at the convenience complex. Not a bad plan. Teleportation wouldn't be bad either if they could come up with that.

    I'm just as obsessed with my computers etc. as the next guy, but I can really get by without taking around gadgets. I wouldn't even take a cell phone if pay phones hadn't suddenly disappeared. Conspiracy theory?

    Yeah, I love coffee. I think it's a mind altering drug too, and those who elevate themselves above not doing drugs and oppose such notions are naive in my book. So they don't drink coffee, cokes, eat chocolate, alcohol, take Advil, etc.? But yes, I understand what they mean.

    The Walmart here started selling McDonalds coffee and it's not bad. I get the Colombian. I like mine black too.

    1. I've always found the argument convincing that a transporter or teleporter destroys (kills) the original and assembles a copy at the destination. Like Dr. McCoy, I'd have reservations about using it.

      Almost anything one ingests is mind altering to some degree, though I'll grant that the difference in amplitude between an M&M and LSD puts them properly in separate categories. That doesn't make either necessarily a bad idea. A man whom some consider wise once said, "tune in, turn on. drop out."