Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tragedy and Hope

Tragedy has struck our household. The coffee pot, the actual coffee container, has sprung a leak. It won't hold coffee. The leak is near the bottom, a little below the one cup mark, so just making a cup of coffee is impossible. This is dire. Plus, we have the kind of coffee maker that does not allow foreign objects to take the place of the coffee container. I can't just stick an old Dr. Pepper bottle under there.

So it's off to get a new coffee maker today. Sooner rather than later. Everything else is on hold. Life as we know it will cease until this epic tear in the fabric of life is corrected. The earth has figuratively stopped spinning as I wait for the stores to open. My eyes have glazed like a shark's, moments away from ripping into a human leg, swimming innocently, unaware.

Fortunately, I discovered this horror as I was filling up the pot with water. At first I couldn't quite get my mind around what was happening, it was too monumental. The water spewed from a small hole near the bottom of the pot. I stared at it, frozen with shock, the meaning of it all failing to get a foothold in my conscience thought. I simply stared as the water streamed out of the hole, like a broken fire hydrant, unable to connect the dot to dot ramifications of this jagged-edge sepuku gutting my morning routine.

At times like this, the human mind ricochets around at light speed. "Houston, we have a problem," is the first thing that slammed into my brain. Second, I realized I would have no coffee this morning. A silent, Meryl Streep-esque tear silently made its way down my cheek, serpentining around the disfigurement of the muscles around my face due to the unpremeditated contortions made by my sudden and violent weeping. And then, pausing in an oasis of unexpected sanity, I contemplated the last complex-compound sentence.

Coffee in the morning has become, over the past decade or so, one of the great and holy joys in my life. Without it, the cosmic apple cart of my soul is upset. As a devout creature of habit I have come to rely on that morning cup of coffee the way a way a Republican gleefully relies on all the vengeful passages in the bible. It is something I need, damn me. Nothing else makes sense without it.

Coffee is as American as violence. It is our birthright, the latter day manna of our lives. Without it we're nothing. We're pretenders. We have no drive for greatness. All of our delusions of grandeur are whisked away and replaced with dread and pessimism. Coffee in the morning, that old devil sent, that caffiene jolt of undeserved rightousness, is the very bedrock of who we are. Nothing to look forward to, no sense of euphoria as we take that first, careful sip of steaming, black confidence. A day without coffee is like a day without resentment. It is necessary to our distorted image of superiority.

But, like a wounded Navy Seal, my mind darts and zips and staggers, hunched over, in agony, searching for a quick fix, a solution to this mind-numbing violation. Like a pedophile Christian minister, I try and find immediate justifications, a way out, a substitution, an explanation, anything that will fill this unspeakable void.

And then it came to me: Starbucks. Starbucks sells coffee. They have coffee at Starbucks. They give it to you in cardboard cups. No questions asked. No forms or background checks. Just a ration of coffee in a non-glass container. No suspicious glances, no sly comments about why you're there, no judgemental stares, slightly askance, as to why you're not making coffee in your own home. Just a quick exchange of dirty money and then, passed through the slot like a chunk of black horse, charred smack, the life-sustaining cup of java. The 'movin' kinda slow' Joe. The stuff that dreams are made of.

And they open, these Starbucks warrior angels, at some ungodly hour like three a.m. or something. They are there, first thing in the morning, the sun barely tipping the scales, ready to feed the beast, to calm the phantoms, to rectify the damage, to capture the dragons. They call themselves coffee shops but they are not. They are miracle makers, dream satisfiers, visionaries, wonder builders, hope outlets. And like the true heroes they are, it's all part of a day's work. Starbucks...the final stop before destiny.

I'm going to get some right now.

See you tomorrow.