I closed out the books for my media empire last week and this is what I learned: I spend far too much money on coffee. I mean, hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, a year. On coffee. This is money that could be better spent on, say, my retirement plan (the balance of which presently reads “you will never retire”). I won’t provide a precise figure on my espresso expenditure because I’m too embarrassed. I also couldn’t slog through all the coffee charges on my online banking statement before Comcast called and said I was using too much bandwidth.
The amount of charges on my company card at chain cafes, independent coffee houses and the occasional mobile caffeine delivery unit (my intern), brought to mind the cosmologist’s trope about the world really being a “flat plate supported on the back of a giant turtle. What’s under the turtle? It’s turtles all the way down.” Except in my situation, it’s coffee – an infinite stack of cups and saucers plunging forever into the recesses of my bank account. Of course, my bank account isn’t infinite – if it was, I wouldn’t be so concerned about my coffee habit. Or frankly, even finishing this column. (Insert fantasy of me floating atop a pool of espresso whilst comely baristas steam cauldrons of low-fat milk).
Instead, I’m teetering on the brink of an anxiety attack, which could just as likely be the result of my daily overdose of caffeine. I’ll never know because I never plan to stop long enough and find out. On the rare occasion that I’ve managed to begin a day unaided by coffee – black and pitiless is how I like it – the withdrawals were so severe I thought I was having a stroke.
Why won’t my brain work? Why can’t I put a sentence together? Why is my name so hard to spell? I was practically catatonic when they found me face down on my desk clutching a pen with which I managed to scrawl a diagram of the caffeine molecule. Well, it was a bunch of random lines and slashes, but that’s what a caffeine molecule looks like in the absence of caffeine (think about it).
It was only when one of my colleagues noticed the bone-dry coffee cup on my desk that they knew how to revive me. Now, I travel with a swanky thermos of what I’ve come to know as “liquid life-force,” the way someone with a peanut allergy might carry an emergency shot of adrenaline. The thermos cost me a bundle but can one really put a price on life?
This brings me to the observation that I’m not only spending too much money on coffee but that I’m also drinking too much coffee. What’s too much, you ask? About 10 cups a day. Yes, it’s a miracle my heart hasn’t exploded. Since all my vitals are in good working order, even my physician is surprised, though he recommends paring down. But I can’t. For some caffeine freaks, 10 cups of coffee is merely what it takes to wake up. I heard about a dude who had to slug a macchiato before bed lest he slip into a coma.
For most humans, one or two cups a day is sufficient. Good for them. I’m apparently super-human or sub-human or some other species entirely. My blood is at least 45 percent caffeine at any given point. My eyes used to be green, now they’re black. I keep a hummingbird in my breast pocket just to shame it with my heart rate. I’m not an addict. It’s different – me and the liquid life-force are one. And I’ll happily share my insights on the matter for the price of a cup of coffee.