Jittering on down the road
A few days ago I was making the most of this offest of offseasons by enjoying a little coffee at Zélé. When I went to the counter to order another cup, the strangest thing happened.”You’re cut off,” the guy behind the counter told me. “Sorry. State law. You’re overcaffeinated, so I can’t serve you. Why don’t you let me call the Jittery Taxi for you.”I thought this was a joke, of course, so I responded the way I always do when someone is being funny – I reached over the counter, grabbed the guy by the collar and screamed, “Latte! Now! Punk!” Cut off? I couldn’t have had more than four or five cups. And who was this bozo to be making those kinds of judgments, anyway?I contemplated hopping over the counter and making my own damn coffee, but I could see that the other customers were already dialing 911 on their cell phones (you recognize the distinct dialing pattern after a while), so instead I sprinted outside, jumped in my car without opening the door – or the window – and was halfway to Basalt before I even got the key in the ignition. I didn’t have any reason to go downvalley; it just felt good to drive – fast.Somewhere around the City Market in El Jebel, I noticed the flashing lights in the rearview, but I didn’t pull over until just the other side of Carbondale. My right quadriceps had locked up, leaving me unable to lift my accelerator foot off the floor. I took my license, registration, proof of insurance and outdated emissions test results from the glove box and arranged them all neatly for presentation to the officer. I then calculated how many miles per gallon I was getting based on my latest fill-up, organized my gas receipts in ascending chronological order, checked cell phone messages, then decided that the receipts would probably be better arranged in descending numeric order, so I arranged them that way instead. All in about the time it took for the cop to walk from his car to mine. I was spraying Armor All on the dash when he finally tapped on my window.We went through the preliminary pullover chitchat: Do you know why I stopped you? – I guess I was goin’ a little fast – I clocked you at 118 mph – Gosh, my speedometer must be sticking, etc., and all seemed to be going well, until he uttered those 33 letters (I counted) that can ruin your day, “You haven’t had any coffee today, have you?”He was looking down at the passenger floorboard, which was about 2 feet deep with Styrofoam coffee cups.”A few cups, that’s all,” I said. “Two. Maybe three. Why? What’s the problem? What’s your point? What are you getting at?”Unfortunately, I said this before he’d finished asking the question. In fact, I think it was before he’d even finished saying, “You haven’t – “He said, “Sir, I need you to step out – “”OK. I’m outta the car. Now what? Is there a problem? What’s the problem? What is it? What? What!? WHAT!?!””Sir, if you’ll just stand over here, I need you to perform a few simple … sir – SIR!”While he continued to yell “Sir!” at me, I began walking, briskly, back and forth in a straight line with my head tilted back and my eyes closed while touching alternating fingers to my nose and reciting the alphabet and counting backwards from 100 by increments of 13. He grabbed me by the shoulders.”No,” he said, letting go of me and taking a step back. “In this test all you have to do is stand still, look straight ahead and not speak for 15 seconds. Starting … now.””Really, that’s all? Wow, I can totally do that because like I said I only had three or four cups of coffee, which certainly wasn’t enough to impair my ability to drive because you can bet that I would never drive after drinking lots of coffee, and I think it’s great that you guys are finally cracking down on coffee abusers because theyaresurelyjustasdangerousasdrunkdriversare … “”You’re under arrest,” he said.(Next time: Barry is sent to rehab to get “decaffeinated.”)Barry Smith’s column appears on Mondays. Read more on Barry’s blog, http://www.barrysmith.wordpress.com.
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My first step onto the natural lake ice is tentative as I launch off on a thin, stainless-steel blade. Will the ice support me? Will I go plummeting through into a hypothermic bath?