Thursday, February 28, 2013
I get up before Nancy, brew a pot of coffee, and write in the mornings. Usually I spill some coffee, too: sometimes on the counter, sometimes on the floor, sometimes in the bag where she keeps all her study materials for Mandarin Chinese. I try to spill a different place every morning because I like to imagine Nancy's delight wondering, "Where will I find a coffee spill this time?" I do what I can after thirty years of marriage to keep a sense of mystery alive.
Unfortunately, by the time Nancy gets up, the coffee, which has been sitting in the pot two or three hours, is no longer the wholesome and pleasant beverage it once was. It has become bitter and unsavory, and a tar-like residue has formed on its bottom: not unlike dear Aunt Bessie before we shipped her to the Old Folk's Home. So Nancy, what a thoughtful wonderful woman, has started setting up the coffee pot at night, putting in just enough coffee for me, and then brewing herself a fresh pot when she gets up. What a dear!
The catch is in that phrase, "just enough." There is no such quantity as "just enough coffee;" there is either "not enough" or "more than enough;" there is nothing in between. I do not understand the sort of person who stops at one cup, for whom the "second cup" is a naughty indulgence; for me the second cup is merely an interval before the third and fourth. Nancy, however, does not see it this way. Judging by the portion she brews me, "just enough," is a cup and a half. My "just enough" is a less definable quantity. Essentially, coffee is something I measure in time. I begin drinking it at 5:30 or so, and keep drinking until 6:45 when I leave for work. If there's still coffee left in the pot, there was enough. If there isn't, there wasn't.
I suppose if I'm dissatisfied with the parsimonious quantity of coffee Nancy allots me, I should just get off my ample butt in the evening, and set up the coffee myself, a quantity more to my liking. The only problem is, Nancy always does this between 7:00 and 9:00. PM and I'm not at my best or most alert during those hours. I haven't had my coffee yet.