Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Coffee, anyone?

I haven't always liked coffee. When I was a kid and my mom and dad (and their friends) drank it, I thought it was gross (though that word, gross, was not yet in my vocabulary of disdain). It smelled bad, and I bet that it tasted bad, too. (I was not one of those indulged children whose parents let them drive the car, sip wine, etc. before the Legal Age arrived. Coffee, they told me, was for adults.)

It was not until college that I drank my first cup of coffee. I realized, after only a few weeks in college, that I was now a sophisticated fellow--wise in the ways of the world, wiser, of course, than my parents or any other adult. I was nineteen years old. So ... a number of my friends drank coffee in college, looking very adult and with-it while doing so, so, of course, I, surrendering to Peer Pressure, joined them.

I did not, of course, consider it "Peer Pressure" at the time (probably didn't even know that expression); I considered it a decision, freely made by the new Adult Me.

And with my first taste, I thought coffee was horrible, an opinion I dared not share with my friends, who sucked it down like the nectar of the gods. I gradually grew more and more used to it, grimly forcing it down ...

... I should add that in college I also smoked my first cigarettes and drank my first beer--also decisions I made--adult decisions--not, you know, Peer Pressure. (I hated both of them as well, at first. And was beginning to wonder if all this Adult Stuff was not at all what I had imagined it would be.)

I smoked on through college and into my first few years of teaching, then quit (fairly easily, actually--no addiction, thank goodness) right before our son was born in July 1972. I quit drinking beer in the summer of 1993 when I was in training to go to the Yukon to climb the Chilkoot Pass. Again, it was easy for me (I'd never been a big drinker, though sometimes a stupid one--is that redundant?), and I haven't had a drop of alcohol since. Haven't missed it at all. And my brain cells have thanked me every day. I was lucky, not especially virtuous.

But coffee has remained.I drank it all through college, sucked it down throughout my 45-year teaching career (took it to class with me at Western Reserve Academy--though I don't think I did it during my middle school years--maybe some students remember otherwise); I still make two coffee shop visits a day, one early in the morning, one after lunch (though I drink only about 1.5 cups at each visit); on cold days--especially--I make it at home, lately in a Keurig. Decaf in the evenings now and then.

Oh, at WRA? I taught 11th grade English (American lit + Hamlet), and I had a special coffee cup made for each writer we studied during the year--his/her face or book(s) adorning the cup.) I've donated most of them to WRA and to the Open Door Coffee Co., my current morning hangout.

One coffee story I'll quit with. Years ago--before Starbucks had spread to every corner in America--I had been in Seattle for some Jack London research (so this had to be the early 1990s), and there I bought Uncle John (one of my dad's younger brothers) a bag of ground Starbucks beans. I flew on a small plane into Walla Walla, Washington (where they lived), landing in what appeared from the air to be a wheat field. The WW airport was a bit like a rural turnpike plaza, though smaller. My uncle and some other relatives were waiting for me. Inside, I saw (to my surprise) a Starbucks kiosk. As we walked by, my uncle gestured toward it and said, "I hate that stuff."

I took the bag home with me.

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