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coffee: the drug of choice

by james hörner

just thinking about writing an article about coffee made me realize that i felt groggy, had a bit of a headache, and could definitely use a double espresso.

i'm weaning, down to only one a day. i get those mid-afternoon caffeine withdrawal headaches, and find myself zonking out earlier and earlier each night. you're probably wondering why on earth anyone would try and get themselves off the best drug on earth. many reasons, really. firstly is the memory of a certain aunt and uncle whose house always had the rich odour of strong coffee. anytime a person went to their house, day or night, you could guarantee there would be a pot on. it seems i've been socialized to think that, hey, there's nothing wrong with exchanging your blood supply for some dark-roast at the door.

secondly is that i realize it sucks being addicted to anything, to know you are incapable of existing without something. this may not seem like a very good reason, but i'm sure i'll simply feel better when i no longer have to have a cup of black coffee within moments of waking up.

thirdly, let's stop keeping track since there is plenty more reasons to come. i've begun to realize how many people actually don't drink coffee lately. it's odd when you ask someone if they want a cup of coffee and they give you this strange, disgusted look, as though i asked them if they wanted some of my body fluids.

recently a friend said it was actually due to economics and our taking advantage of third world countries that he didn't imbibe. i had thought of this once, but hadn't given it much credence before. maybe i always assumed that employing bean pickers was at least something, and probably better than letting them not work at all to feed their families. also, though, this made me think more about what exactly it is we put into our bodies without question. i'm fairly conscious about what i eat, reading product labels and all that jazz, and i've cut a whole lot of crap out of my diet already. yet there is still a certain dark liquid...

do you remember the first time you had a cup of coffee? remember that freak-out buzz, the knuckle shaking high, your mind working at a pace you couldn't have imagined, words spewing out of your mouth, talking, talking, talking about anything, going going hours into the night not caring about sleep but feeling great as though someone had slipped amphetamines into that mysterious bitter substance?

of course we can never get that first time back, but we can have a little pick-me-up each morning, afternoon, and evening. maybe a few other times in between. it's so natural to meet people for coffee, grab a cup of coffee, go for a coffee. one of the other problems is what usually goes hand in hand with coffee. doughnuts or cigarettes. the habit of these things is actually harder to break than the withdrawal symptoms. coffee is so ingrained in us as a social beverage as well as a stimulant. once you start, it seems strange not having a cup.

then there's those folks who don't drink coffee - actually hate the stuff - but pound back the pop. or maybe its tea. caffeine, caffeine, caffeine, it's so hard to escape you. companies pump products full of you so we can feel good and alert and stimulated and soon enough we don't even remember why we buy you any more. is it really because you taste good? or is it because we can't do without you? who wants to go through withdrawal - it's easier to feel good by grabbing a cup of your favourite caffeinated drink.

will i quite coffee? really don't know. i hope so, but ask me again next time i have an early morning class or a late night term paper to complete. i'm sure i'll just ask you to put a pot on.

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