If you've never parented a child with erratic sleep patterns for months and months and months, then I hate to sound all exclusionary, but you don't know from tired. I'm not talking "tired from pulling an all-nighter to write an essay" or "tired from a three-day long-weekend bender" or "tired from having awesome beginning-of-relationship sex for days on end." I've been all those kinds of tired, and they don't even come close to comparing with the limp, demoralized, soul-deep fatigue that comes from being denied a healthy amount of sleep night after night for more than a year, interrupted every few weeks by bouts of almost total sleep deprivation that make you realize you have absolutely no reserves remaining in your sleep tank. Last week, my needle was buried waaaaay to the left of "E."
What would I do without coffee? I've written about my recent love affair with the magical beans, but it wasn't until yesterday that I realized that my passion has escalated to nigh religiosity. I worship coffee with the kind of athletic reverence that used to see monks flagellating themselves with whips or the faithful making lengthy pilgrimages on their knees. If required to do these things to get my daily brew, I'd seriously consider it. Dignity? Dignity is for chumps.
Sometimes I almost believe in Providence, though. Because mere days before the advent of Sam's latest bout of nocturnal shenanigans, my closest friend, The Glorious Nomadic Suzi Bicyclefish -- a woman who clearly peers through some kind of mystical window into my future -- brought me this fabulous gizmo all the way from the motherland:
You're perplexed, I can tell. What if I told you that you are looking at the most beautiful gadget ever devised to take simple coffee grounds and alchemically transform them into deep, rich, perfect espresso? It's called a Presso, and not only is it pleasing to the eye and to the touch, it's also so simple to use that even I can't fuck it up -- not even on three hours of sleep while a toddler tries to pull down my pyjama bottoms.
And it doesn't even use electricity! Anyone who thinks England's glory days as a world power are behind it has another think coming. The British are a superior people and they deserve our unmitigated admiration and respect.
In celebration of love, life, and humankind's intrepid spirit of inventiveness, I was GOING to make a list of my favourite books and passages that, in their own small yet potent ways, demonstrate their kinship with me in their love of all things caffeinated. But then I couldn't find any.
I know that these passages exist, yes, indeed. I can recall specifically a gorgeous description by Hemingway of a café au lait he enjoyed in Paris in the '20s... or perhaps it was one of the characters in Garden of Eden? I don't rightly recollect. And I remember Kerouac wrote something delicious in Dharma Bums about coffee prepared à la hobo, simply with hot water and grounds in a frying pan or an old bean tin or something like that. But can I find these passages? No, I cannot.
I did manage to find this little bit from Steinbeck's Travels with Charley, one of my favourite books:
I poured him a cup of coffee. It seems to me that coffee smells even better when the frost is in. "A little something on the side?" I asked. "Something to give it authority?"That's the best my addled memory can serve up. So instead I turn to you, o wise friends of the internet, to help rustle up some memories. What are your favourite coffee-related literary passages? (How's that for an overly specific request? I'm just trying to keep you on your toes.)
"No--this is fine. This is nice."
"Not a touch of applejack? I'm tired from driving. I'd like a spot myself."
He looked at me with the contained amusement that is considered taciturnity by non-Yankees. "Would you have one if I didn't?"
"No, I guess not."
"I wouldn't rob you then--just a spoonful."
So I poured each of us a good dollop of twenty-one-year-old applejack and slipped in on my side of the table. Charley moved over to make room and put his chin down on my feet.