Hot brown cup of help

I like Jerry Seinfeld fine. I always enjoyed watching episodes with my friend Kevin especially. Watching television with a fan is so much more fun. The joy is infectious. Kevin’s joy was anyway.

But Jerry was on NPR’s Morning Edition today, doing a spiel about coffee. Seems ME did this series of stories on coffee this week called, of all things, “Coffee Week.” For all the time Seinfeld spent at the diner with George and Elaine, he never touched the coffee. He just never “got” why people were so over the moon about the stuff. When people told him they drank it because they felt groggy when they woke up, he’d respond, “Yeah, ’cause it’s morning. Just give it a minute.” He finally gave coffee a try while he was touring because it tasted good with French toast. The milk and sugar and all.

And now he drinks it for all sorts of reasons: as an excuse to meet up with friends (“My theory is 98 percent of all human endeavor is killing time. This is a great way to do it”); because coffee is his morning toy (“I don’t know what the top [the coffee lid] does. I don’t know what the plastic stick does. I don’t even really know what the sleeve does. But I want that little kit because this is my morning toy”); and simply to enjoy it for what it is (“When you go into Three Guys Coffeeshop on Columbus, don’t complain that it’s not as good as Gimme Coffee or Mudd or one of these places. Appreciate that for what that is. Know the difference, but don’t be a pain in the ass about it”).

But my favorite reason is because, as he says it,

We all need a little help, and the coffee’s a little help with everything — social, energy, don’t know what to do next, don’t know how to start my day, don’t know how to get through this afternoon, don’t know how to stay alert. We want to do a lot of stuff; we’re not in great shape. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep. We’re a little depressed. Coffee solves all these problems in one delightful little cup.

I lay in bed last night, late to sleep, tired but not yet sleepy. Things were a little dark. I was worrying about the people I love, about money. And when I woke I flipped on my phone to check the weather and saw an email from a friend that made it possible to get out of bed. Easily possible. And then John gave me my coffee. And then I heard the Seinfeld segment. And then the man with the twinkly eyes who reminds me of the farmers I grew up around, who reads his paper at Starbucks every morning, who has a bushy Einstein mustache, who wears a seed cap and photo-grey glasses and boots, whose eyes smile as much as his mouth—he gave me a little wave on his way out for the day.

So there was help on all fronts. Even if my coffee tastes more like the paper cup it arrives in than the deliciousness it could be (John makes great coffee—I’m completely spoiled). I have my people here. I can watch the blond tottering in on her four-inch stilettos carrying a black patent leather Cadillac purse, complete with the shiny metal Cadillac hood ornament you see on the cars. The pregnant barista seems genuinely glad to see me. And who cares if she isn’t? I’m here to work. And not surprisingly, staring out at a parking lot of cars in a strip mall is a pretty good catalyst to enter the world of the mind.

coffee gnat

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