Recently, on my way to the kitchen to heat up my lunch, I overheard this comment: “A broken lock isn’t going to stop me from getting my coffee”. I politely laughed because a)it was my deputy director and b)I didn’t know what else to do but what I was really thinking was “wow, you need a support group. That is not healthy behavior”. I guess I don’t understand because I don’t drink coffee. There. I said it.
It’s such a relief to get that off my chest. I don’t drink coffee. I never have. I just don’t understand the appeal of a drink that gives you god-awful breath and stains your teeth. And it wasn’t until I became an adult until I realized what a social stigma it is not to drink coffee. I have yet to walk into a work kitchen, attend a meeting or commute without seeing the unmistakable signs of the legions of coffee drinkers. I’ve gotten used to the stares and gasps when I turn down offers for coffee. I’ve gotten used to this question: “How do you function? I’m no good before I have my coffee!” I’d like to answer that I wake up just fine in the morning and I have actually found that an almost 4-year-old screaming “Mommy!” is probably just as effective of a jolt as caffeine but I just shrug and smile.
My dislike for coffee is not a mystery. I can pinpoint the exact reason why I can’t stand it. I can trace the origins all the way back to my 11th grade math class. My teacher, who made me sit not only upfront but directly in front of his desk, was a sweaty mess of a man who always reeked of coffee and consistently had a drip or two stuck to his moustache. His coffee aroma was so strong that I think he might have bathed in it. He had coffee stink lines coming off of him that were so thick you could capture them and make another cup of coffee.
Then there was his breath. Dear Lord, his breath was the worst smell I have ever smelled. Imagine a landfill steeped in coffee and then covered in warm milk; that’s pretty close to what Math Teacher’s breath smelled like. It was so overpowering that most days I wished to lose my sense of smell. I had to smell this first thing in the morning, every morning, for 9 straight months. It was enough to ruin the drink for me forever. I cannot look at a cup of coffee without immediately flashing back to my math class horror. Then I start to relive the smell and the awfulness of it all and I run, not walk, away from the coffee.
There’s nothing that anyone can do or say that will get me to start drinking coffee at this point. And boy, do people try. But my repulsion is so strong that I made it through college, grad school, and living with a newborn all without drinking coffee. I think I am one of the few people left on earth who will go into a Dunkin Donuts and actually get a donut. In fact, the only coffee pot I have cost $12 and comes out only when my parents visit (and sometimes not even then. They go down the street to Dunkin Donuts because I don’t have coffee filters or coffee grounds. Or is it coffee beans? Whichever it is, I don’t have either).
So now you know one of my secrets. I don’t drink coffee. I hope we can still be friends.