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The Bean That Brings People Together

I'm about to tell you an incredible story. A story of a forty-four year old man who had, up to this point in his life, never had a coffee or coffee-type beverage.

I grew up around coffee. My parents drank it. Chock-Full-O-Nuts sat in the coffee filter overnight waiting for just that right moment in the morning when the timer kicked in to start the pot brewing 10 minutes before my parents' alarm woke them to start their day. I loved that smell. The smell of coffee. I love that smell almost as much as the smell of a print shop. A real print shop. With presses. And plates. And ink like a gelatinous creature in metal cans that gets mixed in to just the right color by a master craftsman (like my dad).

But I digress. Second to the love of the smell of a print shop is my love of the smell of coffee (frying bacon on a crisp autumn morning is a very close third).

Many times in my life - ok - three times in my life, I decided to try coffee. It's bitterness seemed like a cruel joke. The taste was nothing like the smell. I felt cheated. My love for coffee would have to remain one of an olfactory nature.

My dad drinks coffee. My mom drinks coffee. I can remember my papaw, coming in from the fields late in the morning sitting at the kitchen table stirring Folgers  or Sanka instant coffee in a mug of steaming hot water.

I never stopped loving the smell.

Growing up there were no coffee houses that I knew of. No Starbucks every second mile. I didn't really even see a "coffee house" until I went to college. There was one on campus, Nocturne I think it was called. I went a few times in the wee hours of the morning. My friends got coffee. I got soda. Equally caffeinated, but clearly the red-headed step-child in this scenario.

For a little over a year now, I've been part of a writing group here in Columbus.  By proxy I found myself welcomed with open arms to another writing group in Ashland, Ohio. I'm grateful for both groups.  Involvement with both groups has helped my writing (and my confidence in said writing) grow by leaps and bounds.

There's just one little catch.

Both of these groups meet at coffee shops some of the time.  Oh sure, I can get an over-priced fruit juice or water that has some charming back-story to it, but I still felt a little like I was faking it. I especially felt those ways on the days where I brought my own beverage. I mean, don't get me wrong, it didn't stop me--I just felt a teensy bit awkward about it.

Thing is...coffee houses are a part of the social landscape these days.  "You wanna go grab a coffee?" That line sparks everything from friendships to who knows what.  And, let's be honest...people think it's weird that someone doesn't drink coffee. Don't deny it. What was your reaction when you read the line about a 44 yr. old man who had never had a coffee or coffee drink? Right. You thought that guy was a freakin' weirdo.

Well, that guy was me.

Was.

Past-tense.

All of that changed today. At some point this week, I decided that I was going to order a coffee (or some kind of coffee-based beverage) today at the writer's group meeting. It was set to happen in Starbucks, so the venue was definitely right.

Last night I searched the googles for "coffee beverages that don't taste like coffee."  Hey. I know it's funny. I thought it was funny that I was searching it. I thought it was even funnier that there were MANY hits on this topic.

Any kind of Mocha came up as far and away the leader. Basically it came down to hot chocolate with a hint of coffee flavor. As long as chocolate was the dominate note, I was fine. I got in line today and looked up at the board. They had the Salted Caramel Mocha. I was set. The salted caramel hot chocolate was a fave of mine at Starbucks, so I decided to give the Mocha a spin.  I got a medium..oh...sorry...grande. I figured it was enough if I liked it and not too much to throw away if I didn't.

I don't know if the other people in my group noticed me hemming and hawing before that first sip (which, honestly, was a really tiny sip).

I had a second sip.

Then a third. I was nervous. I was trying to taste the coffee. I really couldn't. It just tasted like an exotic hot-chocolate.

Before I knew it, the cup was gone.

I had consumed my first cup.

Salted caramel mocha.  A coffee drink.

And I didn't die. I didn't make that bitter face.  I enjoyed it.

Which is cool, because I feel like it opens some doors. Going for a coffee...meeting someone for a coffee...hanging out and shooting the shit over coffee. It's kind of the new social thing. I mean, not super new, but it's pretty much a part of our cultural landscape.

I may graduate to other kinds of coffee-based drinks, but I'm not in any real hurry.  I feel like it's ok to take baby steps with this. Find things I like. And rule out things I don't.

I know...it's an odd thing to write a whole post about...but I kinda feel like it's a special day.  And Tim, Trace, and William got to witness it.  I'm sure there will be more.

But for now, we'll stick with that.

And with that, my Buckeyes are back after a weather delay.  So the afternoon of vegging on the couch continues. Tomorrow should prove to be equally low-key. I'm going to do some more work on CryoComm, Inc. Maybe I'll head down to one of the coffee houses Uptown and do some writing tomorrow.  I mean, after all...isn't that what writers are supposed to do? *wink*

Enjoy your day my friends!

-A.T.


(I really wanted to have the nerve to have them put "Rage Bacon" on the cup as my name. Next time.)

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