Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Heartbreak of Addiction

This is my column from the November issue of the Red Dirt Pedalers "Wheel Issues."

Once again, I've spent a chunk of a very nice Saturday on my knees in the kitchen laying ceramic tile. This job should be completed sometime next week, and believe me, I'm looking forward to it.

Also, I made a trip down to Tom's and came back with a new goodie - not a bike! - 'cause Mary would simply shoot me. No, I bought a commuting essential and I'll be writing about it in a few days.

Image from

I thought I had beaten it. I thought the monkey was off my back and I could turn the corner into a future free of the scourge of my addiction. I was wrong.

It started innocently enough when I was in college, cramming for those all-important mid-terms and finals. Late at night hovering over a manual typewriter, I needed just a little 'something' to get me through and get the work done. A couple of years later, it was six to eight cups of coffee a day. I was hooked.

I drank to excess, using a crude electric percolator to cook my 'stuff.' When it broke down, I switched to a drip machine, one with a timer that woke me to the smell of fresh coffee. It was the first of many cups every day.

Then came the exotic beans. Simple Colombian or Eight O'Clock wasn't good enough. I had to have the best. Jamaican Blue Mountain and Kona were staples on my table.

And I worked hard to support my habit. At first, it involved entry level jobs that had no future. They were dead-ends career-wise, but they supplied cash for the beans.

Then I found the local supplier for high-end addicts, a guy who sold cheap Bodum French presses to bored suburban housewives, and sleek, shiny Capresso machines to wild-eyed addicts. It's like giving a gun to a loaded baby. But I didn't have the cash for such elite 'works' so I stood outside his shop with my nose pressed up against the glass until he called the cops. They were fairly sympathetic since they're usually coffee addicts themselves. I got off with community service.

I got a better job. More money lead inevitably to more coffee. I slept some nights, but not all. My dentist asked if I smoked cigarettes. When I said no, he mumbled, “That's a LOT of coffee!” Sure, his hands didn't shake, something I was thankful for when he had sharp implements inside my mouth, but he could have had the courtesy to ask before strapping me into his office chair because I was vibrating so much.

The kicker came when I visited my doctor for the annual physical. He took my blood pressure and said, “I've seen pressures that high before, but it was in a steam engine.” He ordered me to cut back to no more than 2 caffeinated beverages per day. With Mary's help, I did it, though her part consisted of locking me in the garage now and then.

Like I said, I thought it was behind me, until the kids gave me a shiny new Bialetti coffee maker for Father's Day. They liked it because it's old-fashioned and Italian. Besides, it's tiny. How much trouble could it cause? When loaded with freshly-ground espresso roast, the answer is painfully apparent. It causes plenty of trouble. I've loaded it twice so far today. The monkey is back and he wants a cappuccino.

For real information about coffee and bicycles, see Steven Scharff's page.




Blogger The Donut Guy said...

I feel your pain.

Since I work 3rd shift.....the Earth would stop rotating if I didn't have my green tea to get me going everyday.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Dr. Logan said...

I wonder if an electric one exists, so that I could get a fix at work.... Great post.

1:23 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Whatever you do, Doc, don't try one of those Black & Decker microwave moka pots. They make lousy coffee because it keeps boiling after it collects in the upper chamber. Mine cracked after about a dozen uses.

I've thought about a hot plate or one of those hand-held espresso makers, but for now I'll stick with my one cup Melitta. It fits perfectly atop a Nissan stainless steel waterbottle (vacuum insulated)so I can make coffee directly into the bottle. That's comforting on a cold morning.

6:08 AM  
Blogger Ainsley Wiles said...

We share the same addiction, when my daughter was collicky and I was getting 2 hrs of sleep and driving96 miles one way to work in the dark.... Coffee was there for me. I drank two pots a day and it was the cosistancy of hot asphalt. I am down to thee to five cups a day and have toned it down some, but I have found now I am also addicted to spicy foods and a certian readhead.

6:53 AM  

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