Through a series of bad decisions which my future biographer will refer to as “Undergraduate Career and Caffeine Addiction,” I don’t really drink coffee anymore. As a consequence, I’ve gone from having the caffeine tolerance of a cross-country trucker to that of a tiny marshmallow baby. I am sweet, puffy, and also like marshmallows, but I still love hot beverages and would swim in a tub of hot cocoa if given the chance. So now when I drink delicious caffeinated beverages, like tea which I love more than most human life, I get a little wired. Which is what is happening now. It took two amazing chai teas to get me jittery because I handle caffeine as well an intern I work with handles responsibility: poorly.
Back in the day, I would stay up all night working on homework, punctuating every hour with another tall–but not like Starbucks tall–cup of coffee. Then I’d trudge to campus with a travel mug, then I’d get to campus, land at a Starbucks for a refill, and they’d offer me free espresso shots because I looked so bad… because I’d had so much coffee. It was a vicious loop in which the only beneficiaries were baristas and my goddam amazing grades. My liver will always smell of Columbia.
I see fresh, vivacious youths at coffee shops now, and I want to be a cautionary tale for them. I want them to look at me, at my always-shaky hands, at the teabags sticking out of my pockets, at the permanent dark circles under my eyes–from sleep deprivation, not from people punching me–and I want them to be afraid. I am the coffee shop equivalent of a grizzled sailor coming to a kindergarten career day.
Every chance I get, I warn my students about the potential evil of coffee because it is an insidious drink that tricks your heart by beguiling your tongue before finally ravaging your intestines and leaving passive-aggressive notes for your brain to find later while you’re curled up in a ball on your bathroom floor begging for your life to end but knowing it won’t because even the cold sleep of death cannot overpower 10 shots of espresso.
I can’t reach everyone, and not everyone wants to be reached, so this post is just one more effort in a long squiggly line of desperate attempts to decry the wickedness of coffee. It’s all this little marshmallow baby can do now.