Thursday, July 11, 2013

A View from the Other Side of the Bean

I am not a coffee drinker.  

In fact, I am one of those people who does not find the smell of coffee even remotely pleasant.  

I find it repulsive.   

Since coffee drinking is such a huge part of our society, I have to put up with the vile smell in some social situations.  I try my best to be pleasant and polite, but I also recognize that I am not a person who conceals her inner thoughts very well.  

Though I am fairly sure I have a pleasant look on my face as my friend places her cup of freshly brewed coffee on the table in front of me, her quick movement to cap the thing again, and the way she scoots it away from me, somewhat alarmed and frightened, may indicate I do not have the control I think I have over my facial muscles.

My hatred of coffee stems from a lengthy time of servitude in the kitchen of my parents.  They were both coffee drinkers and my job was to make it for every meal.  

How well I remember the green plastic coffee pot that was never washed, (ruined the flavor of the coffee my father thought) and the messy dumping of the grounds.  Holding the stinking, dripping basket of grounds in my tender little hands, I’d slam the container of black grit against the sides of the trashcan, wincing at the bits hitting my face.

After that, there was making of a new batch, the scooping out of the Folgers, the plugging in of the pot, the sound of the percolating, and the smell that permeated the house.  

Then there was my parents’ slurping up of the excessively hot stuff, the maddening loitering over the black goo, their vacant stares appearing as the caffeine hit their systems.  What was happening inside their bodies?  I did not know, but apparently it required so much focus that it rendered them incapable of focusing on anything else.  

Once in awhile, I would try to bring up a topic I thought sure would lead them into a conversation, but inevitably, they would just stare at me as though I was interrupting a very good TV show—one only they could experience in their minds as the black liquid ran through their veins.

This was powerful stuff.  

My ex-husband was not a coffee drinker and so our home was free from the stuff.  When we had overnight guests who were coffee people, they would go out, bedraggled and grumpy in the morning, ingest their coffee elsewhere and come back to us happy and ready to start the day.  Perfect!

However, as fate would have it, I have fallen head-over-heels madly in love with a coffee drinker.  He needs his coffee.  He loves his coffee.  I love him.  What’s a girl to do?

When we first started dating and he suggested we go to Starbucks, my expression probably suggested that he had just revealed to me that he disemboweled kittens in his spare time. 

However, I tried to recover quickly and, determined to keep an open mind, I walked through those double doors and tried not to wretch at the smell that permeated the air.  I decided that rather than focus on the smell, I would be an anthropologist of sorts, a note-taking visitor to the exotic Savanna of Starbucks.

The first thing that struck me was the line of people who stood, patiently waiting, huddled and quiet with a subservience I had not seen since staring at a picture in my Weekly Reader in fourth grade of Russian citizens lined up for toilet paper.

We joined the line and I looked at the overhead menu board, deciphering the code that separates outsiders from insiders.  The first lesson?   Don’t say Small, Medium, or Large. It’s Tall, Grande, Venti.  


Then there’s the variety of drinks.   Latte, Americano, Mocha Whatchamahoot, Macchiato.   Did you want that on the Clover?  

People speak quickly, in the code, sometimes so quickly that it sounds like a series of clicks.  It is the magical Morse code, that when spoken directly and correctly to a green-aproned clerk (SORRY!  Barista) will result in delivery of the magical brew.

Each person was asked his or her name to be placed upon the heavy paper vessel.  This name would be called out later when the clerk (SORRY!  Barista) completed your order.

(My suggestion: Why not have them write whatever it is you really want need to hear that day? Examples: “Woman Who Rocks Her Jeans” or  “Man With Nice Butt” or ((and you would need to purchase a Venti for this one)) “Woman Who is Under-Appreciated at Home but Who is Actually the One Person Who Keeps it Together for the Ungrateful Slobs She Chooses to Call Family.”)

As we waited, I continued my Jane Goodall impression and looked around at the behavior of those who had successfully jumped through the appropriate hoops and had, as a reward, received their cups of the sacred juice. 

While some were reading, and others were talking to friends, about half of them just sat, gazing into space with that faraway look I recognized from my childhood experiences with my parents.   I looked at them intently, wondering about this Happy Place they apparently went to.

Soon, that Certain Very Nice Man’s name was called and we exited the Starbucks.  He was sure to leave the lid of his coffee on in the car and I, trying some newfound maturity, found it within myself not to make too many negative comments or too many retching sounds out of the window I immediately opened and hung out of.

These days I am a trooper and go to Starbucks with him whenever he wants. Now, I still can’t sit inside because of the smell, but I can sit outside, in the California sunshine and enjoy my large iced tea with extra cup of ice on the side. 

One day as we were waiting for his order,  I looked over to see him looking at me with that Happy Place look.  I looked around for his coffee since I hadn’t heard his name called yet.

“Where’s your coffee?”  I asked. 

“I don’t have it yet.” 

“What are you so happy about?”  

He smiled, “I was just thinking how incredibly beautiful you are.”

Just then he heard his name called.

Well, he heard his name.  

Me?  I heard,  “Man Sitting with Luckiest Woman in the World, Your Coffee is Ready.”


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The things we do for love! Glad you can endure the coffee smell for him. I don't mind the smell, but I equate the taste to licking tar off the road.

Olga said...

Aw, that is a sweet story.
I do have to say i do not understand the not liking -- needing-- coffee thing.

Connie said...

I'm not a coffee drinker either and have always hated the smell! I thought I was the only one!! :D

Your tea looks really good though.

Very sweet story, Betty, and you do sound very lucky. I'd wager that the very nice man is also lucky. :)

Leah J. Utas said...

He truly is a Very Nice Man.

Unknown said...

I love drinking coffee in the morning but not Starbucks. To use someone else's words, it's like drinking tar off the road ;o)
Now if this isn't bad enough, I have a sweet student who every year for my end of the year gift, has given me Starbucks gift card. I've used one this summer but not on coffee. They do serve a great frozen fruit drink :od
Glad things are going well for you and your nice new love of your life.

Shelly said...

I SO identified with this- I've never had a taste of coffee in my life, it's just too revolting, although my parents still chug it. My husband doesn't drink it, so I'm free from it in my own home.

You've got a keeper there, my friend- so happy for you!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betty - just wonderful to read .. and I'm so so happy for you - I can't stand coffee after my early morning cups - and am not a great coffee shop hangouter ..

But what a love story! Cheers from sunny England for a glorious summer in Ca .. Hilary

YrHmblHst said...

Only Betty could make the fact that she deplores coffee into such an enjoyable read!

The Girl Next Door Grows Up said...

Your husband is one thoughtful man. I got goosebumps reading this. One time at Starbucks someone used the name " he who shall not be named" and I burst out laughing when the order was called.

Unknown said...

I loved this..and so happy you have that WONDERFUL man. When I was pregnant I could not stand the smell of coffee and lived with coffee drinkers all around know your pain. I do drink coffee now but only one and a half cups a day. Hubby drinks all day long but he makes it so weak it doesn't smell LOL not telling him most people drink it stronger.

Leanne said...

Betty!!! Really? I almost couldn't continue reading after that very first line!!! You are NOT a coffee drinker?

You know, it bothers me when I'm going through life, thinking that I know it all and that I have everyone figured out. Them BAMM! Betty tells me that not only does she not like coffee . . . but the smell REPULSES HER!!! BETTY!!! It's ok. I still like you. kind of. ;)

Now, I digress. This post makes me happy. And that "very nice man" sounds like such a gem. I adore him. And not only because he likes coffee . . . although it helped greatly.

Love this post, my friend. Makes me giggle, big time. Hugs!

Tabor said...

What a sweet love story. I must say that your description almost put me off coffee...almost. I am one of those who has to have two mugs in the morning and once in a while I will have a decaf at night. I enter the restaurants in Costa Rica and Mexico and inhale the smooth smells of real coffee. I am proud of you for sticking it out, because this is not like is everywhere.

ellen abbott said...

I'm a coffee drinker. two cups in the morning, black. I refuse to go into a Starbucks. Far too pretentious for me.

Sueann said...

It must be love for sure

jenny_o said...

We are really living in the sticks - it's still Small, Medium and Large around here :)

I love a bit of coffee flavour but not coffee itself. Coffee ice cream is a special favourite.

But I am very sensitive to smells, so can really identify with your reaction. And coffee is everywhere. That is a tough one. It's thoughtful of your fellow to do whatever he can to reduce your exposure.

Linda said...

Hello from a sunny & breezy upstate NY! We all drink coffee, including our teenage son. There are certain smells I can not stand, like Pine (the cleaner) and many more. Thanks for making me smile. I like your blog. Blessings

Ms. A said...

I can't function without my coffee. It's my drink of choice. I'm trying to remember your drink/poison of choice... was it Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, or Diet Dr. Pepper?

faye said...

Lovely post ... I am a huge Starbucks fan and I don't drink coffee... in the summer I love their passion tea-lemonade and in the winter I have the cinnanon dolce latte... which is mostly steamed milk .

Old Kitty said...

Awwww lovely BB!!!! Love conquers all! Even coffee! I am sooooooooooo happy you are so in love and Man who loves his coffee sounds ever so adorable!! Take care

Gigi said...

I cannot even pretend to understand how someone doesn't even like the smell of coffee! I can't live without it in the morning - although - truth be told - I cannot stand Starbucks coffee. It's too strong for me.

But yeah, this one sounds like a keeper....even if he does like a Starbucks now and then.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It's too bad you connect the smell of coffee with such a bad experience. When I was pregnant each time I couldn't stand the scent of coffee even though I love it other times.
But I guess you found the cure and I'm thrilled for you.

Alison said...

Aww, I love that ending!

I, too, am not a coffee drinker, in spite of coming from a family who considers it slightly less essential than water, and having a wife who was a barista in an independent coffee shop that roasted its own beans.

Unlike you, poor thing, I do really like the smell of the grounds before they're brewed.

Have you tried some of Starbucks' flavored iced tea / lemonade concoctions? They have a pomegranate something-or-other that I quite enjoy.

MadeByHind said...

Few years ago I hated the smell of coffee, specially black coffee but now I am so addicted to it. I started liking it since it was the only option to drink in many places.

Out on the prairie said...

Part of the enjoyment of my Hawaii vacation was enjoying Kona coffee and bringing it back. Working at a state hospital 2-10:30 makes it a beverage to stay awake.

Empty Nester said...

What a sweet tale! I've never been a coffee drinker either--I did drink it this last school year but it never really caught on so I'm back to not drinking it. But I've always loved the smell. I will stand in the coffee section of the grocery store and just inhale deeply. Your aversion to coffee is the very same as my aversion to cigarette smoke. It even gives me a headache.

Slamdunk said...

It is funny how each of us develops an aversion to certain things. I am not a coffee drinker either, but I don't have a problem with the smell--though I did not have your experience as a child. Now squash is a different story. Bad childhood experience--I'll have to do a blog post on it some day.

Enjoy your weekend and glad to hear you and your coffee drinker are all smiles.

Phyllis E said...

I confess. I've been sitting at my computer sipping my morning coffee while reading your post. I'm a one-cup-a-day gal (ground and brewed at home) and abhor Starbucks.

When I was working in Winnipeg, we took turns making morning coffee for the staff. The first day that my name came up, I was shown the 'proper' sequence. The next day, I did everything right - except that I neglected to put any coffee into the drip perk. Never heard the end of that one.

My Mind's Eye said...

BB you crack me up. Oh my word you had a serious dislike for coffee.
Thank goodness for a CVNM you have conquered it as only BB can.
C 100% coffee lover and that includes coffee ice cream.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Ain't love grand :-)

I dislike coffee as much as you do. I can't take the smell of it either. Ugh.


Phineas T. said...

My perky friend, you and the Drip make a vigorous robusta together.

Now I know my mug o' joe in the office will just remind you of a Certain Very Nice Man.

Baby Sister said...

Oh how perfectly worded this post was!! I, too, abhor the smell of coffee. It's awful. I didn't grow up smelling it, but I hate it all the same.

Your CVNM is very sweet. I'm happy for you. :)

Pat Tillett said...

Great post Betty! Such a romantic ending.
I was JUST like you before I married my wife. Before her, I had never even had a sip of coffee. The smell was bad enough. At some point I tried it and that was that. I've been drinking it ever since. Of course, by the time I'm done putting cream and sugar in it, it tastes more like chocolate milk than coffee, but still...

Hilary said...

I love that you're so happy and with someone worthy of you. How wonderful is that!

I can relate to your coffee aversion. Oh I love the stuff normally and am sipping as I type but during both of my pregnancies, the smell of a coffee shop in the mall was enough to make me want to hurl. It was vile. That lasted until about month 5 when I came back to my senses. But I totally get where you're coming from, as a result.