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Gordon Cameron

No coffee for me if you please

I don’t drink coffee.

OK, that’s not entirely true. I do drink coffee, but only when its absolutely necessary to prevent falling asleep at the wheel (which would be quite dangerous), at my desk (which would be quite embarrassing), or while having to interact with others and be social (which, while quite rude, could get me out of some rather boring conversations). When those rare moments do occur, I look forward to them with all the zeal my mother had as a child for her twice-daily doses of cod liver oil. (For my part, I think I’d prefer the cod liver oil.)

While I can’t exactly put my taste buds on the precise reason, I just don’t like coffee’s taste. When I do force myself to choke it down, I try to make it as sweet and as milky/creamy as possible without entirely defeating the purpose. I only ever drink it black when lives are at stake.

Over the years I’ve had several friends who fancy themselves coffee connoisseurs try and tell me that it’s not that I don’t like it, but what I’ve been drinking isn’t “real” coffee. And while at this point in my life I know my tastes quite well, I have allowed my chums to use their gizmos, special blends and arcane coffee knowledge gained from baristas who had just returned from Amazonian vision quests, to show me the error of my ways, only to leave them crestfallen when they find out that I can’t taste a difference between junk java and their beautiful brews.

If there is a silver lining to my dislike of the brewed bean is that a little goes a long way — a half a cup and I’m good for five or six hours. The downside is that if I overdo it, things get really weird, really fast.

At my last job I worked with a lovely Italian woman who, in a very friendly manner, kept begging me to try a cappuccino. I had explained to her my coffee aversion, but she, like many others before her, figured that if I had the right cup I’d be a convert.

Finally I agreed and with instructions to the barista to make me the lightest possible version (done Americano-style just to be sure) I brought the tiny cup to my lips.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a feeling like the one you’d imagine Popeye went through upon eating a can of spinach. Immediately upon ingestion your body starts  to undergo all sorts of bizarre spasms and ticks, except, instead of giving you super strength, it makes you vibrate from the inside out. My heart was thumping like a hardcore rave beat. My awareness was heightened to almost paranoid levels whereby any sound or movement within my seemingly expanded field of perception drew my immediate and instantaneous attention. I felt like I could accomplish anything, that I could knock off a week’s worth of work in two hours — if I could only stay seated for more than 45 seconds at a time.

My friend, and others who had noticed my predicament, laughed good-naturedly at my state of being. I couldn’t blame them, I’d have laughed too if my brain could stop buzzing long enough to remember exactly how to do it.

I don’t recall exactly when I fell asleep that night (or if I merely lapsed into a light coma from all the trauma my poor caffeine-riddled body had suffered) but I still remember feeling some of the after effects of the previous day.

That’s why I think I’ll stick to green tea.

Gordon Cameron is the Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.

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