It Rains Here Day Three
I woke up at the bottom of a deeper fog than usual after going to a Christmas party where musicians I have come to know were singing carols and jamming. I jumped in with the ones I knew I could sing without knowing the key or the chords. If you sing using solfège the only thing you need is the root tone. You construct the scale from there. It seems to work, and I am glad I went despite a rainstorm lasting days on end. As much as I would like to lay in bed and watch the rain, it is 10:30, and I have an open mic to host. So, I get up, pull on a Colorado State tee shirt, and stumble into the kitchen. I have a routine I follow: Flip on a light, dump the washed-out grounds into the trash, dump the old coffee in the sink, grind more, dump it in the basket, pour water in the reservoir, and then mop up the mess I make. I am not a morning person. I follow this routine to keep me from wandering out to the balcony and off it to the patio below. It works, as long as I hit the brew button. Then, while the coffee is brewing, I make the bed and curse fate until I am fully awake and cheerful. The coffee should be done, but this morning it is not. I punch the brew button again, wondering how I could forget such an essential step. I go into the den, check e mail, check Facebook, check my checking account to see if there is anything left. There is, and awed by good fortune, I stride into the kitchen to load a mug of Joe. The coffee maker is off. I push and hold the on button. It lights but then goes off again. I notice, finally, a wisp of smoke rising from the back of the reservoir. I open the lid and a stream of smoke twists up from the heating element. Fully awake but distraught, I beg the coffee maker to stop blowing smoke when hot, black, ready for sugar coffee is all I require. It finally does stop smoking, and I watch it to make sure I do not burn the four-story complex to the ground. “Yes, Sarge, we did determine the fire started with an electrical fault in the unit above the cookie shop. No, we have not found the owner.” They won’t either, because before I also go up in smoke, this comes to me.
“What the hey coffee pot, step up! If I can, you can.” It doesn’t. It simply sits there water logged and leaking. Then I say, “Coffee pot, don’t do this to me! I’ve been respectful. I’ve kept you clean, and I’ve mopped up the coffee mess each morning: I haven’t left you to sit and sour.” For my efforts the coffee pot does not warm, though it has stopped smoking. I decide to take a different line. “Coffee pot, did you forget I remembered our anniversary. I bought you those expensive beans picked by malnourished campesinos in the mountains of Columbia. I ground them just the way you like.” The coffee pot continues to sulk. Finally, I drive straight to the heart of things. “Coffee pot, I’ve never cheated. I’ve been faithful, I’ve stayed out of Starbucks, Panera, and the Perfect Bean.” (Remember I write) “Well, maybe I did go into Starbucks on that last road trip. But, coffee pot, it had easy off and on parking. You can’t blame me for that. And yes, I did order a 20-ounce Pike Place, with an extra shot, and two natural sugars, and a blueberry scone. But, coffee pot, I was tired and lonely and decaffeinated. You have to understand. It didn’t mean anything, coffee pot. It was just something that happened, coffee pot.”
Despite my tearful entreaties, the coffee sits cold, the grounds dry, and the carafe bereft. Then I remember the strange, shiny can my Mom had in Sioux City. It had three parts: One for water, one for coffee, and one for black, hot liquid. I open the cabinet beneath the coffee pot, and I paw around until I find the tea kettle I have never used. It is dusty, maybe grimy, but in my despair, I fill it with water and set it on a burner. A few minutes later, it shrieks victory. I pour the boiling water over the grounds, and I hear, after a very tense while, a tuneful drip, drip, drip hit the bottom of the carafe. A few lovely minutes later, I am pouring hot, black, steaming liquid into the mug I bought in Lake Placid. It is a good, stout, hearty mug. I fill it to the brim, spoon in a quarter teaspoon of natural sugar, stir, and sip. My heart is in my throat. “Yes, it is coffee, thank God, coffee pot.” But it is weak. I poured too much water over the grounds. Still I drink it and then I wail. “It’s not the coffee you make, coffee pot. It’s not you, it’s not you.”
Heartbroken, I pour the coffee left in the carafe onto the grounds and let it run through again, something else I learned watching Mom. This time the coffee is strong enough to peel varnish, and I am glad. I pour two mugs down my unsuspecting throat, and I dance into the shower. I am almost but not quite late for the Spoken Word: Fiction open mic I have begun at Glen Echo State Park, with the help of Kristin Ferragut, the poet. She tells the people who came to the reading that her story is the first one she has written in many years. The title is “Migraine”. It is perfect for the weather. It has a haunting line. “The heart is messy.” No kidding. The open mic goes well, four new readers, four regulars. We each read one pass, and then do an improvisation exercise. Then we break, our eyes alight, our hearts glad.
On the way home, I stop at Target and buy a replacement for my beloved coffee pot. Though I am loyal I have my limits. The new coffee pot is a top of the line Mister Coffee. For once I read the instructions, wash the parts I should, then run a test drip. Soon I have freshly ground hot, black, restorative coffee in a mug I bought the road trip I went astray. Then I take the carcass of my beloved coffee pot to the trash and, lovingly still, dump it into chute. Nothing lasts forever except love, friendship, kindness, creativity, and expression. So, while listening to Bonnie Raitt on YouTube, I send you this: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo.
© 2018 Roger Bradbury/ By Words Alone