Let the j-j-jittery times roll
I have coffee issues, and, thanks to science, they are only getting worse.A couple years ago, the first thing I would do after waking up would be to make a cup of coffee and immediately sit down and type out an entire page on my manual typewriter. An entire page of whatever came to mind, no rules, no parameters. Just as a little exercise. I did this for about two years, every morning. Skimming through this 600-plus-page stack of papers, I see that I usually wrote about coffee – how much I love it, how particularly good it is that morning, how I can’t wait for another cup. Whenever I was in a no-coffee phase (I told you, I have issues), it was all about how much I miss it, how I long for it, how poor of a substitute tea is. Eventually I found that there was nothing to write about if I didn’t have coffee, so I’d start drinking coffee again.Coffee is my Muse and my destroyer. Coffee is my inspiration and my perspiration and will drive me to premature expiration. There are those who claim to love the ritual of the morning cup of coffee, but they have nothing on me. Satanists would be shocked by the amount of ritual I have built up around my a.m. fix. I’m a coffee snob, a coffee connoisseur and a coffee whore. I have a French press encrusted with bean-shaped jewels. I have ended friendships upon discovering 7-Eleven coffee cups in their car. I have asked strangers for just one sip of their Joe. I’ve got it bad. I’ve published no less than a dozen coffeecentric columns, drawn countless doodles of coffee cups and am not embarrassed to be seen in a Starbucks.I have had an on-again, off-again relationship with coffee for the past five years that would warrant a People magazine cover story. And with each turn of the roller coaster I have made a big deal about it to anyone within earshot, including the person selling me the coffee at the time.And now, just as I am absolutely and finally done with the bean (I mean it this time), I see the headlines, “Coffee May Prevent Liver Cancer.”What? NO! Don’t you dare prevent cancer!Seems the Japanese have done a 10-year study showing that one to two cups of coffee a day cuts in half the chances of getting the most common form of liver cancer. OK, I remember those TV commercials in the 1980s, the ones where Cecily Tyson claimed that coffee gives you “serenity.” Ha! Are we talking about the same thing? Serenity? Not if you do it right, Cecily.But that’s advertising. You expect to be lied to. But this new claim is not “Juan Valdez sez: Coffee prevents cancer. Drink up.” This is science.I thought science was supposed to help, and now here it is giving me the green light to get all jacked up again. “Drink coffee, Barry, your liver will thank you.” Yeah, but my kidneys will kick my ass. And there’s two of them and only one of me.The study did show that going past the two-cup mark actually starts to INCREASE the liver cancer risk, but I don’t need a third cup to be a jerk.Just as I’m starting to get things under control, just as I’m beginning to be a good person, to quell the ravenous coffee desire, closing in on the twelfth step, about to silence that little whining voice that says, “Coffee makes you happy and interesting,” then I get a bunch of statistics thrown in my face.What next? Research proves that sarcasm increases penis size? Ten-year study reveals that masturbation raises your IQ? Procrastination doubles the life span of laboratory rats, study shows. Frequent napping promotes hair growth. Research reveals pot-smoking chimpanzees more attractive to the opposite sex. I have no choice. Science has spoken. And the kettle is boiling.Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is barry@Irrelativity.com, and his very own Web page is at http://www.Irrelativity.com
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For those of you who follow my monthly missives, and occasionally read between the lines, you may have noticed a trend toward a bit of cognitive dissonance and some internal conflict on my part.