My First Cuppa

Southern women like their caffeine cold.

click to enlarge LATE NIGHT SHAKES: Up past 3 a.m. on only a quarter cup. - Laura Fries
Laura Fries
LATE NIGHT SHAKES: Up past 3 a.m. on only a quarter cup.

It's just a little paper cup filled with caffeinated ground bean drippings. It has one pack of Splenda in it. It's cold, and three quarters full.

It's my first cup of coffee. OK, OK - that might be hyperbole. I have technically "sampled" coffee on three other occasions - once to relieve, ahem, blockage, and twice so as not to offend a source for a story I was reporting. But this was the first cup of coffee that I had paid money for. I walked up to the counter, and fumblingly asked for the special brew. (I, you see, have no idea what to actually order. Mocha what?)

I ordered it, and tried to drink it for the entire three hours I was in the coffee shop. When the place closed, I felt guilty and took the cup with me.

Now it's sitting on my counter - all cold and bitter.


Coffee has always represented a level of maturity that I was just never going to achieve. Some kids drank coffee to be cool; others started their addictions during college all-nighters. I have always thought it smelled kinda gross, and I happily quaffed my Dr. Pepper.

But tonight I ordered the coffee, and pretended to like it, and made a pretext of drinking it. No one around me thought it was strange - it wasn't a life-changing moment for anybody. But I did drink my first cup of coffee, and now I'm just one step closer to being a stodgy, boring adult.

What if… What if I become a coffee person now? What if I all of a sudden become someone who is dependent on that morning fix; someone who can't stay up late without a "cuppa" (god, I hate that word!)? I mean, really. I can't even keep cacti alive. I have dishes at my house that have yet to be washed since I wrote my Gasparilla column. (Before that, I'd last done the dishes when I wrote my Hanukkah column.) Am I really the type of person who can keep up a coffee habit? I'll never have filters! I'll constantly be using toilet paper! And I almost never have that!

How can I start drinking coffee, which is generally acknowledged to be swill at every workplace and gas station across America? I may be new to some things, but I'm still a snob. I certainly don't want to be fiending for coffee early in the morning, ending at some Quik 'n' Stop or other horribly misspelled venue of a dubious nature. I just don't want to go down that route.

I'm writing this column at 3 a.m., because I've got the shakes and I keep thinking of e-mails I just have to send - all this from a quarter cup of coffee? What gives? I'm trying to appreciate this coffee. Really. I'm smelling it now. Mmm. Roasted. Hints of vanilla. God, it grosses me out. How do you people drink this stuff? I'm giving up and trying to go to bed.

Dispatch from the morning after.OK - what are you people thinking? Seriously! I'm typing this one on the john (sorry, Mom) because that horrible brown stuff (no pun intended) has very rudely damaged the workings of my digestive system. I gave up trying to write productively at around 3 a.m., but I was up till nearly 5 worrying about unpaid bills, blog entries to be posted and thoughts of world domination.

About 4:30 a.m., I cracked. The rush subsided, and I was left with a throbbing pain in my right eye socket.

I finally got to sleep, but my dreams were horrible, icky and stressed out, and full of bad guys. I almost got up to blog about it, but decided to stay perfectly still until the fever passed. Of course, a night of caffeine-driven productivity doesn't excuse one from having to get up on time for work.

So here I am, squeezing it out both figuratively and literally with this column. And you know what? I'm drinking a Coke.

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