It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I was just out of the hospital having had a bi-lateral mastectomy. I came home in pain, shock, full of drains and swathed in bandages. I felt I had been bludgeoned and the world was upside down.
My friend Cherrie was staying with me. She had stayed with me in the hospital too, which is the definition of friendship … the person who will sleep in a chair in your hospital room for three nights because they really care. They don’t give medals for it, but they should. There ought to be some kind of award and maybe a statue. We have promised we will be there for each other and so far, we have. I didn’t recover quickly. It wasn’t just the physical changes or pain; it was a revision of my self-image on so many levels. I was not a happy camper, but I was a live camper. I had a family, my best friend and a few good computers. There was food to eat, coffee to drink. Rather more slowly than I would have liked, I got better.
Until the coffee machine died. One morning, I slunk into the kitchen and there was water everywhere. The Mellita machine we’d had for a few years had sprung a leak. Its life had ended in a big puddle. We held services and interment was quick and to the point: we tossed it in the trash. We needed a new coffee machine.
Garry and Cherrie went to the local Walmart — literally the only shop in town and it isn’t even our town, it’s two towns over — and ended up buying a Black and Decker. It was a 12-cup machine and came with a reusable filter. It seemed a sensible choice. Without further ado, the new machine was set up and put into service. We were safe … there would be coffee.
We are a coffee-loving family. Coffee is the start of the day. No coffee? No way! Lack of coffee threw the household onto an emergency footing.
Within 48 hours of getting the new coffee machine, we all began to lose our taste for coffee. No one wanted a second cup. We weren’t even finishing the first cup. A 12-cup machine had previously not been big enough for all of us. Usually we had to make a second batch, but now, suddenly, one pot was more than enough. We had (gasp) leftover coffee. No one was interested.
One morning, Cherrie said she thought maybe she’d like some tea. Garry decided he didn’t really need coffee and I didn’t want any either. That was when I realized that the problem had to be the coffee machine. The change in the coffee was sufficiently subtle that no one exactly noticed, except no one really wanted to drink it. The coincidence was too much for me. Until we’d gotten the Black and Decker, everyone loved coffee. A week later, no one was interested. Cherrie wanted tea? Cherrie?
I sent Garry out with instructions to come back with a Mr. Coffee. It may not be the best machine on the market, but it makes a consistently good cup of coffee when you get the proportions right and find beans you like.
Out went the Black and Decker, in came Mr. Coffee … and coffee was back. I eventually concluded the Black and Decker fed the water through the grounds too fast to produce enough flavor … and there was something weird about that metal basket (we went back to paper filters). Also, the water wasn’t the right temperature. It was very hot, but it just washed across the coffee leaving it oddly lacking in body and flavor.
The years have come and gone and we are one more Mr. Coffee down the road.
We are happy. There is coffee. It is good and hot. It is the smell and taste of morning, the one single thing I can’t imagine giving up. Take away everything, but Lord, do not take away my coffee. Or Mr. Coffee. When you have a good thing going, you don’t mess with it.