I am a coffee addict. Not recovering, not proud, just…addicted. I established that fact in my very first blog post, actually. What I haven’t shared so far is the story of how I arrived at this state of affairs. It all began in my twelfth summer…
Actually, back that up. I’m fairly sure (although NO, I don’t have any DNA or genetic marker evidence in front of me at the moment) that my coffee obsession is inherited. I say this because every one of my mother’s siblings is a little obsessive about hot drinks. I know, it sounds bonkers. It probably is. But my theory is that there is a hot beverage addiction that runs on my mother’s side of the family. Coffee and tea, mostly, but after years of observing my own relations, I know that hot chocolate and hot water will do just as well in a pinch. I have an uncle who does NOT leave the house without at least one thermos of hot tea, and who orders it either hot or iced at every meal. My mother will not leave the house without a hot beverage, regardless of lateness or number of people waiting. And then there’s my own unhealthy obsession. So it all started with genetic predisposition, and watching my mother drink prurient amounts of coffee throughout my childhood. My dad, on the other hand, gave up coffee sometime before I can remember it clearly. And I remember my mother admonishing us kids several times when we were younger and telling us that we should never drink coffee, or we’d end up like her (and for a while, that was a very successful threat, let me tell you!).
But to get back to my twelfth summer: the long and the short of it is that I went to summer camp. Summer camp was glorious (just thought I’d put that in there as I’ve recently met people who had dismal experiences). I adored the early morning Reveille wake-up calls, the activities, crafts, Frisbee, water slide, inner-tubing on the lake, water balloon wars, evening speakers, singing by the campfire and enormous late-night games of kick-the-can, flashlight tag or pony express. It was FUN. It was also incredibly tiring. Even kids who normally careen off the walls can be over-scheduled at camp. So by the fifth night or so, I needed an infusion of something to keep up my energy levels. Wonder of wonders, the camp cafeteria had coffee. Coffee had mystical powers back then. Sure, it tasted gross (I’d sipped some from my mothers’ cup on previous occasions), but it smelled delicious, I knew that it helped keep you awake, and all of the counselors guzzled it as if it were ambrosia. Its merits were therefore several: it had a strange usefulness, popularity, and the allure of (possibly) conferring ‘maturity’ upon its drinker.
I downed a couple of cups at every breakfast thereafter, and went home to tell my astonished (and unhappy, I’m afraid) mother, fait accompli, that “I drink coffee now.” It was relatively easy to so pronounce it as an established fact. I knew my mind and what I wanted and thought I deserved, but looking back I might have also been in a ‘forceful’ stage (nicer than saying ‘bratty’ straight out). Of course that experience didn’t immediately morph into my present addiction, but it was the start. At the end of the same summer we went on a family vacation to a beach in Maine, and there were plans to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic. One morning at 6am, shivering in the cold and a little damp from sea spray, I was included in the 'adults-only' coffee-drinking group for the first time.
And I have been a coffee imbiber ever since. My mother is very thankful to report that none of her other children have taken up the habit (although Lincoln will drink a cup to be sociable).
To end with, the YouTube clip that inspired this post: