The other night, Chris and I were driving home from swim practice.
“I want to talk to you about coffee,” Chris said quietly while turning the music down.
My ears perked up.
Just a few years ago, Chris would not have even uttered the word coffee. Then he progressed to occasionally drinking decaf coffee (I know, I know….but work with me, baby steps). Then I convinced him to just try the real coffee. And then he discovered dark roast. The rest is caffeinated history and I have reason to believe he now drinks dark roast every single day.
But back to the conversation. He is driving, it is quiet and serious in the car. This is not unusual. Chris approaches the most bizarre topics with seriousness like this. He’ll be sitting somber next to me and then say “I need to talk to you about something”. I expect something dramatic like confessions of another woman, confessions of an illegitimate child, confessions of a secret bank account but then he says “I want to buy another bike” and I’m like…..huh? That’s it? Confessions from a bike addict that he wants to buy another bike? Unless it’s a bike for another woman please next time don’t even bother to tell me.
The air in the car hangs heavy with anticipation of what possibly he’ll confess and what coffee has to do with it when he says, “I don’t need the caffeine every day, I just really enjoy the taste of good coffee. Know what I mean?”
(see – that was it?)
So I thought about it. Do I know what he means. Don’t need caffeine just like the taste of coffee. Coffee just for coffee’s sake….
No, no I don’t know what you mean.
How can you enjoy the taste of coffee but not need the caffeine? That is like saying I enjoy smoking the cigarette but don’t need the nicotine. Biologically impossible. Our brain is not set up that way. The reward system is much smarter than that. So smart it convinced you that you don’t need the caffeine you just enjoy the coffee taste.
He continues, “I just enjoy a good cup of coffee in the morning at work. I just like to have that cup.”
Oh Chris. So young in his affair with coffee. Still so much to learn. Let me tell you this is just another one of caffeine’s tricks in the brain. Is there any reason to look forward to going to work every day? Do you just lay in the bed each night thinking I cannot wait to go to work tomorrow? No. No you don’t. (and if you do, zip it. I don’t want to hear about it anyways) But how many times have you laid in bed at night thinking I cannot wait to drink coffee out of my rooster mug tomorrow morning. Many. And this is the trick of the brain. It substitutes cannot wait for coffee for cannot wait to get to work because really there is nothing to look forward to at work in the morning but coffee from the rooster mug. The coffee cup is symbol of survival, if you will.
“Good coffee,” he says, imaginary coffee cups filled with piping hot dark roast float above his head, “I just like the taste of good coffee.”
Spoken like a true (non) addict.
I had been quiet until then but felt I should clarify the situation for him – out loud. “So what you’re saying is you are addicted to coffee every day.”
“No, I don’t need the caffeine,” he snapped back. This is what I get for arguing with an engineer. If a plus b equals c there is no way b plus a can equal c. Not to an engineer. It just isn’t the same. You can have caffeine in coffee but you don’t have coffee for the caffeine. To them, somehow the numbers just don’t add up that way. You ask me and I’ll tell you that a, b, c – they mean whatever you want them to mean. In any order.
So let’s try this from a different angle. “You mean you don’t think you need the caffeine because you’re addicted to the caffeine.”
“I’m not addicted.”
Whatever you say. It’s not like the caffeine pulls the proverbial wool over our eyes to makes us think, I’m ok. I don’t need this. I choose this. I like coffee and that’s why I drink it. I don’t need you, little bitch of a coffee cup. I could easily put you down. Any time. Just say the word. Ok, dare you…..
I put it down.
Well, I know. Because I’ve seen it happen before. At least once a week Chris decides he is bigger than coffee (caffeine) and lays off for a day. Then he comes home and tells me stories of snuggling in the van for a nap at lunch and feeling off all day. Plus he gets really grouchy. So you see that is what happens when you as an addict try to give up an addiction. Your body revolts:
enter killer headache, moodiness, fatigue, yawning, intense need to take a nap in the middle of the day, bright lights are too bright, cannot focus, cannot think, cannot be around other people, whispering is too loud, cannot function, cannot move, cannot think, cannot…
give up the caffeine.
And why give it up? Of all the things you could be addicted to why does he feel this is so wrong? When Chris tells me he jumps on and off the wagon I just close my ears. I tell him he is hurting my friend coffee’s feelings. He tells me he does not want to get addicted to the caffeine. I say just give in. He says he’ll just give it up. It still gets back to the fundamental question – why?
Despite all of that, he still doesn’t see. “No, I’m not addicted,” he says.
Just submit. Just submit yourself to the coffee and stop putting up the fight. Coffee’s powers are much stronger than you and I both combined. If coffee’s power was measured in watts it would rival the power of an entire pro cycling team.
So again I try a different approach, “You say you are not addicted but you did say liked the caffeine, right?”
“No, I just like the coffee.”
Right, that’s what I said – you like the caffeine. Something every honest addict already knows. So I settled back in my seat, mumbled the word exactly and dreamed of drinking coffee from my rooster mug less than 12 short hours away.