Friday, December 3, 2010

I Knew There Was A Reason I Kept Him

For the past three years I have been using the birthday money my dad sends me to buy myself a cup of coffee on my way to work. I put my birthday money in a sandwich baggie and store it safely in that special place in my car especially designed to store CDs and baggies filled with birthday money. Then once a week, until the baggie is empty, I buy myself a special birthday money coffee.

I have designated Friday as my special birthday money coffee day. I’m not sure why I chose Friday. I should probably have chosen Monday. What could be better than starting the week with a special birthday money coffee? A special coffee I could drink without feeling guilty for spending money on something I could very well have made myself for 1/100th of the cost. Or maybe I should have chosen Wednesday. Wednesday would be a good birthday money coffee day. It would be a special treat to break up the long, arduous work week.

But I didn’t choose Monday or Wednesday. I chose Friday. It’s become my tradition now. It’s my habit; my compulsion; my own special obsession. I can’t change it. I can’t. Not without some birthday money coffee therapy anyway. But birthday money coffee therapy would cost money so then I’d need guilt therapy because I don’t think I could cope with the guilt of spending money on therapy. The guilt of knowing I could have easily purchased a cheap self-help book would just be too much for me. But then if I purchased the book I’d feel guilty because I could have checked it out for free from the library. And if I checked it out for free from the library I’d feel guilty because I’d know I could have Googled “guilt therapy” (and gotten About 2,430,000 results--0.18 seconds) and not used the gas I burned to get to the library. That would require even more therapy and … well, that’s why I can’t change my birthday money coffee day.

I’ve been thinking about my upcoming ten weeks of Friday morning birthday money coffee since my birthday way back in October but there just hadn’t been time to start the weekly trips yet. It’s important to me that I enjoy my Friday morning birthday money coffees consecutively. I don’t want a week here and a week there. I am willing to wait until I can buy coffee ten weeks in a row. I need consistency; a coffee rhythm that says to me, “everything is right with the world.”

Early this week I began to harbor hope that my birthday money coffee could begin this Friday. I checked the calendar and saw nothing for the next ten Fridays that would prevent me from purchasing my birthday money coffee in those special paper cups with the plastic lids. I don’t know why, but I love those paper cups with plastic lids. I love the cardboard sleeve specially designed to protect delicate fingers from the heat of the coffee. And I especially love being able to throw that cup and plastic lid away when I’m finished. It’s not that I’m wasteful or trying to intentionally add to the landfill. I’m a recycler. I save plastic and newspaper. I have a little pretend garbage can on my kitchen counter for compost scraps. And I live with Dean. But I’m engulfed in such a feeling of absolute power when I throw that cup away with total abandon. It's intoxicating. Take that, you paper cup!

Finally, yesterday I decided it was time. All day at work as I drank my home-brewed coffee, lukewarm from my thermos, I thought “tomorrow I am going to buy my first Friday morning birthday money coffee.” My excitement continued to build once I got home. “I’m not going to need you tomorrow”, I said to my thermos as I rinsed it out. “Tomorrow I’m buying my Friday morning birthday money coffee in the cup I can throw away with utter abandon.”

This morning I woke up excited and filled with anticipation. And then I heard the wind. It was howling. I knew I would have to walk across the office parking lot in 40 mph winds clutching my precious Friday morning birthday money coffee. But I wasn’t worried. I had a plan this year. A “how to get my steaming coffee across a windy parking lot and into my cubicle without spilling a drop” plan. I will share my plan with all of you, just in case you may find need of it in the future.

The Friday Morning Birthday Money
Coffee For Windy Days Plan


• Wear earrings with secure clasps. This is not a dangly earring day. I nearly had a dangly earring blown out of my ear once while walking across the parking lot in the wind. Risking spilling your birthday money coffee while chasing an earring across a parking lot is an unnecessary and preventable risk.

• Pull your hair back and tie it at your neck. Being blinded by blowing hair, causing you to walk into the side mirror of one of the huge pickup trucks parked in the lot, spilling your birthday money coffee all over yourself is, again, a preventable and unnecessary risk.

• Wear pants. There may not be anyone else in the parking lot at that ungodly early hour but a woman’s first reaction when her skirt blows up over her head is to grab for it. And if she is holding a cup of hot coffee, … well, I don’t want to go there. Again, a preventable risk.

• Wear solid shoes with low heels. I don’t believe this needs any further explanation.

• If possible, fill your pockets with rocks. (This is where being married to a geologist can, for once, come in handy). Flying through the air may sound like a thrill, but the folks below you who will be pelted with droplets of hot coffee will not appreciate it. Another alternative is to eat a lot of pumpkin pie, completely covered in whipped cream, like I did. The added weight will hopefully keep you grounded, but if you should still find yourself floating like Mary Poppins, the subsequent landing will be softer due to your increased soft, fatty tissue.

Parking Lot Protocol:

• Place your coffee securely in your right hand.

• Push open your car door with your left shoulder and old it open with your left foot. Do not let the door close no matter how strong the wind is.

• In one smooth move, slide out of the car, covering the special coffee-sipping opening on the top of the cup with the first finger of your left hand (even if it leaves a brown spot on the new alpaca gloves you bought in Ecuador). Step aside quickly, letting the wind slam your door shut.

• Tightly hold your Friday morning birthday money coffee in your right hand, still pressing the first finger of your left hand onto the coffee-sipping hole on the top of the cup. Lower your head, lean into the wind, and stagger as fast as you can to the office door. Do not release your finger from the coffee-sipping opening on the top of the cup no matter how much your finger is burning. If you raise your finger, even for a second, the wind will blow that coffee out of the opening, straight into your eyes, blinding you. This may very well cause you to trip over the parking lot curb, onto the sidewalk, where your sprawled body will then be whipped and rolled, over and over, until you are tangled in the snow fence where no one will hear your cries or see your battered and beaten body.

This morning I followed that plan exactly. It went like clockwork until I was halfway across the parking lot and realized that my coffee was still bubbling up out of the lid. How could that be? The lid was on tight. I was holding my finger tightly on the special coffee-sipping hole on the top of the cup. Did I have a damaged lid? How could my plan be defective?

Once I got my Friday morning cup of birthday money coffee safely in my cubie and took a closer look I realized there was a flaw in my plan. There is a tiny, tiny pinhole in the lid across from the larger special coffee-sipping opening. A pinhole large enough to allow coffee to bubble and erupt on a windy day.  Can I cover both the coffee-sipping opening and the tiny pinhole while walking across a parking lot fighting hurricane-force winds? Can I do that and stay upright until I reach the safety of the door? I don’t know.  I feel I must develop a revised plan. A plan that I fear involves physics and math and some kind of complicated aerodynamics formula. And I need to come up with it before next Friday because what if it’s another windy Friday morning birthday money coffee day? I can’t just wait until a day when it’s not windy. I can’t change the day. I already told you why.

If I can’t come up with an adequate revision to my plan I might have to come up with an alternative course of action. Right now there is only one alternative I can imagine. I need to find a Friday morning birthday money coffee delivery service.

Where IS Dean?◦


Jerry said...

Maybe I should double your birthday money so you can double you coffee consumption.

Art Elser said...

Cathy, have you been appointed the Casper BLM safety officer? I've never seen a disaster plan so carefully thought out--except for that pin hole, of course.

And if you are the new safety officer, have you figured out how to get people safely into and out of the parking lot since the arrows are, and this comes to me second hand, pointing in the wrong direction or no direction at all?

Have you considered sitting quietly in the coffee place and drinking you coffee, relaxing, and enjoying yourself? Perhaps you could just think of how nice it is not to have Al across the wall making those obscene noises.

Amber said...

What a funny post! I love Friday morning Starbucks Coffees. I get the urge to buy coffee and a pumpkin loaf from Starbucks. The urge comes either on a Thursday or a Friday. Next time I get a coffee I'll have to remember to cover both coffee lid holes. The unfortunate part is I can only wear dangling earrings. Remember, I will tell you in January. :) Thanks for the laughs!