It was not a really bad habit, as far as bad habits go. But I was unsure of its side-effects. It was rumored to stain teeth, peel away the lining of the stomach, leave the consumer jittery.
It was also addictive. Terribly, terribly addictive.
Just coffee, you say? Well, then . . . you are probably addicted, too.
I guess I felt my fiance’s coffee addiction revealed a potential for other, more deleterious, addictions. Like a Yoo-hoo addiction. His addiction to coffee paled in comparison to a Yoo-hoo addiction. What, with all of its high fructose corn syrup and processed dairy creamer, I feared that if my fiance started having a hankering for Yoo-hoos, I might not be able to break his bad habit all by myself. I might have to have intervention.
And then we got hitched.
In the mornings, I would pad out into the kitchen of our apartment parallel to the highway and smell the fresh grounds brewing like an olfactory version of a siren’s song.
Turning up my nose, I tightened the belt on my robe and paid no mind.
I often found abandoned mugs of half-filled coffee down in the warehouse of our store, which was attached to our apartment. Sometimes, if I was having a particularly rough day pricing K-Mart clothes or canned goods, I would look around, grab the mug, and take a furtive sip. (Just one sip, mind you.) I would then close my eyes and savor the chilled richness of coffee and cream laced with sugar.
Needless to say, the determination to break my husband’s bad habit started to wane as I picked the bad habit up myself. My heart skipped whenever my husband paused – head titled at the computer screen – and murmured in a British accent, “What’s that? A coffee twice day?” He would then grab his abandoned mug and charge through the store, up into the office, and through our apartment to prepare his second cup of joe.
We were married six months when I started drinking coffee on Sunday mornings. I told myself it was a bonding ritual—husband and wife both seated at the kitchen table in matching striped pajamas, sipping coffee while sharing sections of The New York Times. Well, of course, my husband put on jeans the second his feet hit carpet, and there was no way we could get The New York Times in our Podunk town. Still, you get the picture.
Drinking that fine, Sabbath coffee, I told myself what every addict does: I could stop at any time. It just made me feel good. It wasn’t hurting anyone. Our fix was practically free (through our store).
We were married for a year when I started drinking coffee every day. I didn’t even blush when I stumbled into the kitchen and fought my husband over who got to push the start button first. Sometimes, in the afternoons, my hands would shake as I turned the dials on the price gun. My head swam as I tried to calculate just how much was six for a dollar, anyway. Desperate, I would look over at my husband and rasp, first glancing around, “Coffee twice day?”
He would shake his head sadly. “We had ‘coffee twice day’ already once this week, Honey. You’ve got to slow down.”
Then a Keurig came in through the store – a black, sleek machine so full of caffeine potential, it left me breathless – along with boxes and boxes of gourmet K-cups that were so exquisite in their tiny little containers: French Roast, Nantucket, Donut House, Emeril’s Big Easy Bold, Green Mountain Breakfast, Columbian, Sumatran, Newman’s Own, Caribou, Tully’s Italian Roast. . . .
It was just so easy (too easy, now that I think about it). I could pop a K-cup into the Keurig, and thirty seconds later, watch a delicate scream of dark brown pour into a mug, emitting an aroma that made me salivate like Pavlov’s dog.
Yesterday morning — four and a half years married, four years coffee fan, three and a half years shameless coffee addict — I padded into our kitchen and smiled. Ahhhh, I thought, the Keurig’s blue lights are on, and the hot water is full. The display next to the Keurig was also filled with my favorite selections. What more could a girl want? Whistling, I swung open the refrigerator door and took out my carton of half and half.
I shook it and couldn’t believe my ears. Not enough liquid to make a satisfying swoosh. Barely enough liquid to make the tan coffee bloom with cream. I looked over at my husband, seated at the counter.
“I can’t beelieve this!” I cried, holding the carton up as proof. “I forgot to buy half and half on date night!”
My husband shook his head, lips pooched in faux sympathy. I popped Caribou blend into the Keurig and punched the smaller button for extra strong. Watching the steam roll from the cup, I looked over at my husband and shrugged. “I’ll just use ice-cream instead of half and half,” I said.
And then I realized: Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Does your significant other have any habits you want to break and find yourself adopting instead?