Wake Up and FIND the Coffee
by Ian Shoales
Last week I went into a coffee house to get, you know, a cup of coffee,
only to be told that actual coffee was unavailable. Would I like a
tasty cappuccino, cafe au lait, or espresso? A double decaf latte with
one of those little Italian biscuits that tastes like chalk? They had
those, but a steaming java, a plain ordinary cup of joe? No way.
This mutant coffee thing is getting out of hand. It's even hard to get
a cuppa mud at the local convenience store. It used to be simple: Get
large paper container, put under urn tap, pour, attach appropriate lid,
pay and go. Today convenience stores all have an Isle Du Cawfay or some
damn thing: It offers cinnamon coffee, vanilla coffee and decaf
Viennese, from beans fresh-squeezed by formerly Soviet virgins. I'm not
against this stuff, but it's not what I look for in liquefied caffeine:
I want a blister on my lips and a knot in my stomach. I want my coffee
black, bitter and scalding. Give me that little pleasure, America. I
promise I won't sue you.
Alas, we're well on the road to tepid exoticism. Have you tried to find
vanilla ice cream at the grocery store lately? You could get frostbite
from rummaging. You have to claw your way past Wally Walnut Peanut
Brittle Supreme, or Cherry Brownie Fudge Syrup Surprise, ice cream with
so much extra Junk crammed into its mass like a tub of frozen glue with
chunks of bark floating in it. If you find vanilla ice cream at all,
it's usually Milli Vanilla Whole Bean Rain Forest Saver, with vanilla
beans suspended in its depths like boulders in a glacier.
While we're on the subject, isn't it time to declare a moratorium on
microbreweries? Walk into an upscale tavern these days, and there's a
12-foot wall of bottles behind the bar, floor to ceiling. If you ask
the bartender what kind of beers they serve, you'll die of thirst before
he reaches the end of the list. And all the names have the same kind of
annoying, vaguely macho ring to them: Ugly Alligator Ale, or One-Eyed
Pete's Pale Porter. I'll go mad, I tell you! Mad!
We've got to nip this thing in the bud, my friends. We're on the road
to a world where we'll be able to flavor our foods with cumin, curry, or
cilantro, but not salt. We used to drink water from the tap, remember
that? Then we switched to bubbly water from foreign lands; now it has
to be cherry-favored bubbly water, or we won't touch it.
We have special shampoos for our individual hair needs. We need special
outfits to ride a damn bicycle. We have call waiting, call forwarding,
caller i.d. -- but when's the last time you actually talked to a human
being on the telephone?
Our new culture is all quarters, no pennies, prayer in school but no
education, all croissants and no doughnuts. We're not smoking! Tomatoes
will stay ripe for centuries.
We welcome space aliens, by not illegal ones. (As Martians carry work
visas.) We used to shoot tin cans from stumps with .22s. Today we
shoot each other with .357s. We used to drive gasguzzlers, guilt-free;
today we drive little tiny cars with strange names not found in nature.
Do we really feel better about ourselves? Of course we don't.
We're just trying to prove that we can control our appetites. "I don't
have a sugar jones," we say to the world, "I just have a sudden craving
for Huggy-Buggy Sweet 'N' Sticky Health Bars. That's all."
I don't want to alarm you (well; OK, I do), but it seems like we're ripe
for an invasion. Lean and hungry barbarians from the east, take note.
You won't even need weapons. All you need are basic goods: sugar,
salt, coffee, tea' whole milk, alcohol, red meat, tobacco. I don't want
to sound like a traitor, but we're a pushover.
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