I tell people I drink a lot of coffee. Everyone tells people I drink a lot of coffee. I don’t know if it’s true. I’ll explain what I mean.
It’s exactly six steps from my desk to the microwave. That doesn’t really matter, because all in all, I probably take about a thousand steps for coffee per day.
I tumble downstairs sometime in the late morning, and pour myself a tiny cup of the blackest black liquid. It has to be tiny. I don’t know why.
I take a sip, then hold the cup while I contemplate. Don’t ask me what I contemplate – it’s not the taste of the coffee or the fact that it’s too early, or what the day will be like. It’s all of these things, or none of these things. The point is, there must be contemplation before another sip is taken.
Contemplation doesn’t work for everyone. My boyfriend, for example, wolfs his coffee down like there’s no tomorrow. If we go to a coffee shop, he’s done a solid 20 minutes before me. If we’re sharing a thermos on a drive up to a weekend hike, he’s downed half the contents before I even get beyond the contemplation stage.
Sometimes I contemplate for a long time at my desk, at which point the coffee is cold. So I get up, take the six steps back to the microwave, and stick the tiny cup inside.
I set it for a “quick minute.” But I always get impatient, so I yank the door open after 34 seconds. That’s probably good enough, anyway. I test the coffee. Just right! I congratulate myself on my profound coffee-reheating skills and sit back down to work. After typing a few inane sentences, I take a sip of the coffee. It’s settled back into lukewarm territory, but I’ll take it.
A few more minutes of thinking, writing, erasing, rewriting, recontemplating, and I take another sip. Oh, no, this will not do. It’s room temperature by now, and since it’s in my house, that means: cold.
I get up and tromp the six steps back to the microwave, thinking about my next sentence. This time I push a quick minute, but get impatient in a different way: I don’t want to stand at the microwave and wait even 34 seconds, so I go back and sit down at my desk again. Before I know it, the microwave is beeping at me: the minute is up! I’ll get to it in a bit.
Half an hour later I reach for my coffee, only to find that it’s not on my desk — it’s still in the microwave. So I go over to the microwave and push the minute button. THIS time I won’t forget the dang coffee, I tell myself. But I do, of course. After the third consecutive microwaving, I wait across the kitchen until the coffee is hot. Then I take it back to my desk.
I call this “The Coffee Game.” I know you know it. Millions of people around the world play it. When I was in college and still living with my dad and his girlfriend, he and I would take turns with the microwave. Go to put your cup in, realize their cup is already occupying the microwave. Reheat the other person’s coffee, take it out and bring it to them, heat up your own cup, forget about it. Have it returned to you when the other person heats up their coffee, and on and on.
There’s a heck of a lot of time spent around the world, reheating cold coffee in the microwave. I’ve probably spent hours of my own just reaching over to lay my fingers on the side of my cup to see if it’s still even remotely warm. You’d think we could save all that time and energy for something more useful & very specific, like solving cold case serial murders in Vermont (coincidentally, that sounds like the kind of novel series I’d like to read). I even invented an already invented invention to help out — a portable, coffee-mug-sized hot plate that keeps your coffee hot. Apparently they don’t do so well if unattended for too long, however, and turn your coffee into evaporated black dust. Oh well.
Sometimes you go to put your coffee in the microwave, and discover that you already have a cup in the microwave. Not someone else’s cup. Yours, from yesterday evening when you finally gave up on the game. You take it out, dump the contents down the sink, then reheat your coffee again.