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LeAnn and I went to the BodyWorks exhibit at the Denver Museum of Science (and Nature?) Anyway, the exhibit was awesome, but not really the point of this little story because I have only one complaint about it.

After two hours of learning, the mind tends to feel a little overwhelmed. Instead of going to appreciate the rest of the museum, we decided to go to the Deli area and have coffee. I love coffee. I drink my coffee black and strong and am proud of that. What makes me even prouder is the fact that I had to make myself like coffee. I used to hate it, and I was a little afraid of it. My Mom hates coffee so it was rarely in the house except on holidays when she would break out this 1.5 foot tall behemoth that made fascinating and intimidating noises seemingly at random. The only people that ever drank from this scary contraption were all of my old relatives who smelled a little funny and always asked me what grade I was in and why I didn’t play any sports like my brother.

When I was a sophomore in high school I decided that the only way I could succeed in college was by liking coffee. If I didn’t go to college, it would be because I was a published writer, and no writer can succeed without a coffee (or other) habit. I didn’t want to be someone who merely liked coffee, but a person who needed coffee. I have very few addictions so I was completely fascinated with the notion of needing something so much that people would understand I was someone who had needs and they’d better be met or bad things may happen.

I got a tiny four cup coffee maker and bought a bunch of (crappy) coffee. Every day after my 6am aerobics class I would come home, shower, and suck down a pot of the strongest coffee I could tolerate. It wasn’t about taste or enjoyment or savoring the moment; it was about getting it done in the hopes that I would trick myself into liking it, or forget that I didn’t.

Eventually I started getting severe stomach pains from all of my trying so I had to back off, but I came back successfully and have been obsessed with coffee ever since.

The coffee cart at the museum was inexplicably closed, but no matter because that was another coffee bar that had the self-serve pots sitting on it. One regular, one decaf, one hot water, one 2%ilk and one half-and-half. I saw the pot of half-and-half and inwardly scoffed, berating the people who need to undermine the glory that is coffee with whiteners and sweeteners and whatever else. Half-and-half has always horrified me; the notion of drinking fat is something that does not sit well with me.

I started filling a paper cup with regular coffee, and at about 1/4 full it stopped coming out. There was no other pot of regular and I will not– will never!–drink decaf. What to do? The place was severely understaffed. The coffee cart was closed and the lone cashier couldn’t be expected to abandon her post to make more coffee for two girls so selfish as we. LeAnn managed to find another little old lady hiding in the back doing dishes and told her that we were in dire straits. We then stood there for fifteen minutes waiting for the coffee to emerge from behind the counter. We peeked back at intervals and saw nothing coming out of the brewer. We had been had.

So we settled for tea and got in line to pay. Naturally, the woman came out with the coffee after we already dunked the tea bags and couldn�t not take them, so LeAnn paid for the tea and I went to get some coffee as well.

I filled two paper cups and put half-and-half in LeAnn’s. Then, as if operating independent of my actual wants and needs, I squirted a very liberal amount into my own cup. I put in so much half-and-half that my drink was cooled down sufficiently for me to chug it in an amazingly short time. Then the coffee cart opened back up. I got into line, ordered a 20oz cup and added a ridiculous amount of half-and-half. After chugging that cup I felt, a little warm, and also a clarity that has escaped my recent coffee drinking experiences. Right now, I’m going to blame the altitude for my lapse into the “slightly bitter milk” milieu, but I’m craving more of that beautifully colored, completely mild, and gloriously fattening beverage. Here come the questions: What does this mean? Have I capriciously abandoned my principles? Am I getting so old that the thought of pouring scalding hot acidic liquid directly into my stomach is unappealing?

At least it wasn’t decaf–I couldn’t live with myself.