Pre-dawn. Post-alarm clock. I, Bob, an acknowledged sentient entity, the man I know and have never quite warmed up to, do not brew the coffee. No.
My alter ego, an anonymous cataleptic mass of cohered cells powered by basal electromechanical impulses and driven by an instinct for, if not survival, Level One attentiveness should survival occur, brews the coffee. The cataleptic mass independently, spontaneously scoops the pungent grind, runs the filtered water, fills the 12-cup reservoir, jabs the button named Brew. Encouraging and enabling the black Braun of dated design to slowly sigh into appreciated action on the Corian countertop.
Some time -- some imponderable span of time -- later, I, Bob, the Bob who answers to "Bob," bobs to the surface, tentatively kissing, rippling the top of the inky pond of my hitherto total oblivion. Luring me to this incipient wakefulness is a familiar percussive arrhythmia, a sacred cacophony that precurses the coming of St. Joe, i.e. hotfreshstrongblackcoffee.
Such is the sound of coffee brewing in my archaic, prosaic, asthmatic, rat-a-tat-ic machine, the opus of drippings, burbles and gurgles, of wheezes, hisses and pff-pops. Every morning this Edgar Varese-esque symphony swells and penetrates my pre-conscious, meta-susceptible brainpan, there to plant the (false, disingenuous, cruel) notion that, cough, in a final selfless act, phhht, of unparalleled courage, gasp, and super-Teutonic strength, ffssh, it, the Braun, will finish brewing, sput, one more pot of java divinity, shhhfft, just for me. In sensory counterpoint, a steady, heady parfum de la barista makes a feast for the nose.
Café con raison d'être!
I, Bob, eager, emboldened Bob, rudely elbow the catatonic mass out of my fucking way, seize the Pyrex carafe of scalding ebony nectar, splash my commodious mug full and drink.
And life as I tolerate it begins.
So. On to Morning Edition. To be apprised of dropped bombs, car bombs, fire bombs, suicide bombs, nuclear bombs and, at 10 minutes before the hour on Fridays, the latest bomb from Ben Stiller. Over my cup of hot solace, I listen anxiously, hoping this is the day I discover Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne have been nothing more than an aural delusion, a tepid on-air apparition, that Bob Edwards is once again in my kitchen chronicling the decline of the planet in his honey-dipped and felt-lined basso despondo. It is not. He is not. Yet I listen on. Because now that the coffeemaker has gone silent, my ears need something to do.
Time to let the dog out, where he'll deposit another steaming doo-dollop of solid evidence for the forensics unit of my landscape crew to collect, analyze and eventually use against him in the case of my lawn's untimely death. Upon his return, I measure out a ration of Kibbles & Bits of Viscera (a prospective doo-dollop) into his bowl for breakfast, though, because dogs can't tell time, I tell him it's brunch.
With consciousness still struggling to topple my unconsciousness' interim government, I nonetheless endeavor to assemble my own breakfast, a meal as formulaic and predictable as fleeting female notoriety being followed by a splashy spread in Playboy: one heaping bowl of Cheerios, dry; a cup of powdered milk, dry; one brown sugar cinnamon toaster pastry, pastry removed; the pulp strained from one 8-ounce glass of orange juice. All mere tick birds, frankly, to coffee's rhinoceros.
Did I just hear Renee report that Ariel Sharon has eaten Mahmoud Abbas?
Second cup. About now, I'm joined by The Partner. Even after so many years of cohabitation, seeing her as she enters the kitchen I'm unsure as to whether her bleary, tousled look is genuine or if she's mocking mine. After a morning kiss (that neither of us has brushed our teeth yet tells me we're still in love; that both of us pull our respective shirts up over our mouths and noses before kissing tells me we're still in our right minds), she pours herself a cup of coffee. My coffee. Of course, to say this out loud would only lead to my losing half the entire pot in the ensuing divorce settlement.
Because she is easily bored, The Partner, unlike me, has no boilerplate morning meal. For her, to have a tofu scramble or tofu flakes or a tofruit smoothie or tofoatmeal or tofancakes or tofausage or tofinnamon tofoast or tof-u-get-the-idea two mornings in a row is as unthinkable as turkey made from a turkey. Or me without a tofaxe to grind.
By the time her choice is made, prepared and dug into, I'm on cup three. The money cup. The cup that sweeps me to the keyboard, gets the brain bubbling, the ideas flowing, the words streaming, the fingers springing. Until, well, about here.
Bob Woodiwiss's column appears here the last issue of each month. His book, Keys to Uncomfortable Living, a collection of humorous and satirical essays, is in bookstores now.