For the second time in my life, I’ve given up trying to take days off from drinking coffee. I’m drinking it every day and enjoying it. The battle line is now drawn at one cup per day. Instead of struggling to get through the morning hours of my designated non-coffee days with a cup of watery tea (it was never a question of feeling groggy or needing caffeine, more one of forgoing the delicious robust flavor and pleasant ritual of coffee), I now struggle to resist the urge to go buy a second cup of coffee on my morning break—especially when it’s 15 degrees outside, and I’m working, for God’s sake, earning money and therefore “deserving” a cup of coffee.
Headaches and light-headedness will set in if I push my consumption further! This is what I tell myself, but the whole idea of worrying myself over a couple cups of coffee is rather absurd, as my wife points out. Plenty of folks drink way more coffee and are perfectly fine. I have three concerns, though, that rattle in my brain every day: leakage, body odor, and loss of taste.
The leakage is real, and I wonder if all coffee drinkers suffer from this. Just a little bit after going pee, unless I take an extra five minutes to stand frozen over the toilet (or frozen patch of ice) into which I’m peeing, waiting for that last little bit to make its way down and out. I’m almost 100% convinced this is coffee-related, but is perfectly dry underwear really worth two or three days without coffee?
My friend Stu once said that he thinks coffee gives him body odor. Stu is a very handsome man, and I always considered him successful and balanced and happy, and admired him as such, and was greatly relieved when I heard that he drinks coffee every day. It could be lots of other things, of course, but when I find myself smelling the day after having taken a shower and vigorously scrubbed my armpits, I search for something to blame and coffee is the natural choice.
Lastly, I worry about losing my tasting ability. My wife once told me that she did a tasting exercise in college, and that daily coffee drinkers had a harder time tasting bitterness, thanks to the regular blasting of their palettes with bitter coffee. This has stuck in my mind, and with every sip that I eagerly take onto the tip of my tongue, I worry that I’m destroying those sensitive buds and am walking the road towards becoming an old man who pours salt on all his meals except breakfast cereal, onto which he pours sugar (this was my grandpa in his later years).
The irony of all this concern is that I regularly spend hours each day bathing in toxic fumes from paints, primers, and lacquers, or swimming in clouds of fiberglass dust. While I make more of an effort than I once did to pause and gear up properly, I still am frequently exposed to the worst chemicals of modern building materials. Like yesterday, when I spent five hours painting the interior of a small municipal building the color grey, using first a primer and then a paint that wiggled like cold bone broth, and came home to my wife who immediately exclaimed that I smelled like chemicals. Twelve hours later, after changing clothes and eating meals and exercising and drinking water and brushing teeth (twice) and sleeping, there’s still a slight taste of chemical in my mouth. And here I am agonizing over six ounces of coffee.