By Chris Gay
The year was 1979. With it came the debut of the Sony Walkman, the Happy Meal and ESPN. The Pittsburgh Pirates had actually won the World Series. (I’m not kidding, look it up) Among those notable happenings was yet one more that’s remembered with much less fanfare. It was the year that saw me simultaneously consume both my first and last cup of coffee.
I was six, maybe seven. And having spent a good portion of my youth with my great-grandma I had become more and more curious about the taste of the dark, aromatic brew she consumed with regularity. My curiosity ultimately got the best of me, and I asked to try a cup. She told me that I wouldn’t like it. I told her I would.
She reminded me that we had had a similar conversation once before when I’d asked to sample her bar of baker’s chocolate. In that instance, she’d warned me that it tasted nothing like the standard Hershey bar I’d become accustomed to. I didn’t believe her. She was right; in fact comically right. This time would be different, though. In hindsight I had never seen anyone snacking on baker’s chocolate; but every grown-up I knew drank coffee.
I asked her over and over until, at last, she acquiesced. On that memorable morning, she opened a fresh can and began the ceremonial Brewing of the Grounds. Though it was a daily ritual for her, this time brought with it an air of greater significance. It was to be the day I took another step toward adulthood, while simultaneously pushing my youth a little further into the rear-view mirror.
Once I had conquered coffee, I figured the only rung left on the ladder to full-fledged maturity would be to extricate myself from the smaller table at Thanksgiving.
That was the future though, and this was the present. I still had to prove myself and somehow best the bitter beverage.
Last Minute Waffling
As the brown liquid percolated and fell into the coffeepot drop by drop I wondered if the old adage be careful what you wish for was actually true. There was still time to back out. My great-grandma was one of the all-time good guys. She’d understand and, what’s more, she’d keep my flip-flopping to herself and never mock my silliness to another soul.
No, I finally decided. It would be drunk. After all, I’d already been on this Earth long enough to have seen a handful of Christmases in person; easily old enough to handle one nondescript cup of coffee.
Suddenly, a familiar scent filled the kitchen. One that I had come to know only too well. Time was growing short. Grandma reached into the cupboard and took down one of the two-toned white plastic cups with the weighted, inexplicably yellow bottoms she favored for these more caffeinated occasions.
It looked like a Weeble-Wobble except that the top was open, so if you were to tip it over, instead of bouncing itself back into place the cool way the Wobble would, it would simply stay down and spill out onto the floor the entirety of its contents. Clearly, that was merely a procrastinating thought that carried no relevance now. Coffee time was upon, and I was wavering.
With all the drips now dropped, Grandma pulled the coffeepot from the hotplate and poured my cup, seemingly oblivious to the magnitude of the moment. She placed it in front of me while I tried my best to look unconcerned in my generic, yellow football pajamas.
I took it, and then glanced up at her. For one brief moment our eyes locked. Hers filled with sympathy; mine, with apprehension. In the distance I could hear the tick-tock of the old Seth Thomas clock that she had brought with her many years before from Scranton, Pennsylvania to East Hartford, Connecticut.
The moment held a little longer. She began to look at me as if I was awaiting a call from the governor. If so, none came. I raised the cup to my lips and, after one more slight hesitation, took my sip. “Well?” She’d asked with uncharacteristic impatience. I briefly considered what I had just consumed and then reached my verdict. “This sucks, Grandma.” She nodded, knowingly.
Over the years that followed I’ve often considered trying another cup. Especially nowadays, when coffee comes in more flavors than a bag of Jelly Bellies. I’ve even walked into the occasional Starbucks; albeit only to buy a large cookie and the tasty, frozen green tea concoction that my ex-wife introduced me to a few years back.
Perhaps at some point the day will come when I am willing to try again, if only to stop being subjected to the snide commentary I receive when someone sees me drinking a diet soda at eight in the morning. Until that day comes however, I’ll content myself with the one special memory coffee allowed me to share with my great-grandmother in 1979.
What if a late 20th Century Jack the Ripper tearing apart a small Connecticut town was the result of a pancake shop bet between God and the devil? Imagine if Satan’s impact on the world in the new millennium hinged entirely on one police officer’s skill in hunting down a ruthless killer…hiding in plain sight. Detective Danny Seabrook is an unwitting pawn in a divine chess match with immeasurable consequences for all mankind. Set primarily in 1995, this action-packed suspense thriller features clever dialogue, humor and romance-with an ending you will never forget.
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As the end draws near for long-retired Sherlock Holmes in Sussex Downs, he calls one last time for the company of his best friend and colleague, Dr. John Watson. What was meant to be four last days of camaraderie and reminiscing instead leads to the most shocking, explosive revelation both of the great detective’s career, and his life.
Sherlock Holmes and the Final Reveal is a Holmes tale like none other ever conceived. Fans of Baker Street’s legendary detective will be left with the insatiable need to contemplate its extraordinary conclusion forevermore.
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The Bachelor Cookbook is the perfect (and likely only) addition to any guy’s collection of sarcastic culinary literature. If you’re between relationships and looking to make the most of whatever foodstuffs you’ve got until you meet that next special woman, then your prayers have been answered. Unless you’re an atheist; in which case coming across this book just means your luck was in today. For men looking for sustenance over style, I give you this spectacular cookbook. Well, I don’t “give it” to you, per se. You have to pay for it.
Featuring such taste-bud tempting recipes as:
Meat on a Bed of Rice
Cheese and Crackers
Plus Miscellaneous Cookbook Humor, too!
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Chris Gay is an author, freelance writer, voice-over artist, broadcaster and actor. He wrote the paranormal, theological thriller novel ‘Ghost of a Chance,’ the novella ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Final Reveal’ and several humor books: ‘And That’s the Way It Was…Give or Take: A Daily Dose of My Radio Writings,’ ‘The Bachelor Cookbook: Edible Meals with a Side of Sarcasm,’ ‘Shouldn’t Ice Cold Beer Be Frozen? My 365 Random Thoughts to Improve Your Life Not One Iota,’ ‘Another Round of Ice Cold Beer: My 365 More Random Thoughts to Improve Your Life Not One Iota,’ and later in 2014, ‘Something Witty This Way Comes’ and ‘Kris Kringle From Man to Myth: The Origin of Santa Claus.’ He’s been published nationally in Writer’s Digest and is currently writing the Ghost of a Chance sequel ‘Perdition’s Wrath.’ For seven years he wrote and broadcast a daily, sponsored radio humor spot in Hartford, Connecticut. Chris has written and voiced radio commercials, authored both comedic and non-comedic freelance articles, scripts, press releases, website, media and technical content, done occasional radio color commentary for local sports, and acted in a couple of movies and plays. His website is chrisjgay.com.
2012: Hope Springs (Barfly)