Comes a point in every man’s life when he begins to take stock of his successes and failures, and Facebook is a great tool for helping you see where you went wrong.
Like the other day when all three children descended on me like a pack of wild dogs because I love coffee and they don’t. Where did I go wrong?
Now I’m not one of those guys who’s going to sit around reading magazine articles about what the health experts are saying about coffee. Let’s face it, as soon as one quack says it’s gonna kill you, another will come along and tell you that coffee will cure cancer, and you’ll never have another ingrown toenail. Ultimately, who cares about any of that?
I’m also not one of those guys who puts a lot of stock into fancy brewing methods, the optimal grind or the most expensive coffee beans. I’m not that guy who will take a sip, swish it around and say to myself, “earthy, with floral undertones, and a hint of chocolate, cinnamon and cedar.” When it comes to coffee, I don’t buy the best, nor do I buy the worst. In fact, I have only two rules: Coffee must have caffeine, and it must not be flavored.
Simply put, I drink coffee because it tastes good, and because it gives my blood a swift kick in the ass whenever I need it. But believe me, those aren’t my only reasons!
Seriously, I didn’t start drinking coffee until I started my professional career, which is why I always held out hope that my own kids would eventually grow into it. But now I’m worried, because my kids aren’t kids anymore, and they’re running out of time. Certainly they’re older than I was when I finally saw the light.
See, here’s how it went for me. I’m an old-time newspaperman, and coffee and newspapers go together like gin and tonic, brisket and sausage, or honey on a biscuit. And that’s just for readers of newspapers. For those of us who actually worked to produce them, coffee was the lubrication we needed just to make it through.
Not that it’s all that relevant anymore, but let me explain something about good old-fashioned print newspapers, and in particular, the news/copy desk. There wasn’t a day in my 33 years that I didn’t arrive at the office knowing I was gonna get screwed. The only mystery was how it was going to happen this time. There are probably a million different ways an editor can get screwed, but that never stopped me from arriving early and trying to figure it out. Armed with the evening’s first cup of coffee, I could sit for a few minutes and contemplate my fate. I’d take a sip of coffee and try to get the lay of the land, hoping against hope that if I could just see which direction it was coming from, maybe I could deflect it a little, and maybe the screwing wouldn’t hurt so bad.
Every night, part of the ritual was to gather your buddies — all dead men walking — and mosey to the coffee pot before the shit started hitting the fan. Not only did we do it for camaraderie, but also because we knew we needed the caffeine so we could stay awake long enough to know we’d survived another deadline, and that it was now time to head to the bar.
Before computers squeezed every last ounce of fun out of it, the proper tools were important for copy editors. That’s why I used the same steel pica pole every night, and it’s why I drank out of the same unwashed coffee mug for many years. That pica pole ripped wire copy, sized photos, scratched my back, cut cakes, and yes, stirred my coffee for years. As for the mug, before I probably left it next to the hot wax machine in some backshop somewhere, it had built up such a thick, rich patina that you could not only taste the coffee, but also the years of bitter tears and roasted misery.
And see, that’s what kids today don’t understand. Coffee isn’t just a drink. Coffee isn’t just a caffeinated booster shot. Coffee is comfort. Coffee is tradition. Coffee is ambiance. Coffee is memories and shared experience.
Ask yourself, do you really want to go through life looking like some kind of wet-behind-the-ears rookie? Hell no! Coffee is what puts hair on your chest, figuratively speaking! Coffee is what makes you grizzled, and I don’t care what field you’re in, if you’re going to pay it forward to the next generation of suckers, grizzling is important! If I’m starting a new job, I’m not going to look to some fruit-juice sipper for advice! Nope, I’m looking for that salty veteran, the man or woman who’s sitting there looking grim as death, the one with a chipped and dirty coffee mug nearby!
Look, kids, you’re running out of time, and dear old dad is trying to save you! Do you think you’re the first person who didn’t like the taste of coffee the first time you tried it? Hell no! Lots of people hate the taste at first, but that doesn’t mean you should quit trying! Don’t be a quitter! If your taste buds object, make the next pot stronger to kill off the weak ones!
You have to push through! You have to persevere! Drink coffee because your father loves you and wouldn’t steer you wrong! Buy something with ink that rubs off on your fingers, then sit there and read it while drinking a cup of hot coffee. Do it because it’s the right thing to do!