I have reached the age (old enough to know better) where getting a good night’s sleep depletes me so much, especially if I dream about something exciting, like sleeping, that I need a liquid boost to start the day.
No, silly, not gin. I refer, of course, to coffee.
And it’s my dumb luck to make it better than my wife, Sue, which is why, on most mornings, I have to get up first to brew a pot of rich, dark, steaming hot java that gets the blood circulating and puts smiles on our faces, at least until the caffeine wears off.
Often I will detect, after getting up quietly to use the porcelain convenience, that Sue is awake on her side of the bed, pretending to be asleep so I will stay up, instead of climbing back in the sack, and make the coffee.
Down the stairs I thump, yawning and stretching, attorneys at law, and stumble into the kitchen, where I put a filter into the basket of the coffee maker and begin the meticulous process of measuring the exact amount of ground beans: nine even scoops, one bulging scoop and — this is the key — a pinch that would barely cover an ant, which you definitely don’t want in your kitchen, and especially in your coffee.
Then I fill the pot with precisely a dozen cups of faucet-fed water, flick the switch and — voila! — realize I haven’t plugged in the machine. Once I do, the percolation commences.
Ten minutes later, five beeps indicate that the coffee is done, at which time Sue enters the kitchen. I pour her a large cup of coffee and put in a splash of milk. She takes a sip, smiles and says, “Good! You make it better than I do.”
She’s right. I have had Sue’s coffee. It’s not so strong that it will take the paint off the wall (I’m off the wall, so I should know) or so weak that it will fail to awaken the aforementioned ant.
It’s just, well, not as good as mine.
Such is the curse of the man who never used to drink coffee. In fact, I had always considered coffee a stupid drink. It’s made from beans that are grown on mountains and brought down by mules so they can be ground into grounds, through which hot water is run.
I prefer a sensible drink. Like beer.
I once brewed my own brew, which I called Jerry’s Nasty Ale. It went down smooth and came back up the same way.
Actually, it wasn’t bad. It had an inadvertently smoky taste, which I couldn’t figure out since I didn’t put cigar ashes in it, and earned raves from Sue and a couple of neighbors, who did not, thank God, have to be hospitalized.
Another sensible drink is wine, which I have also made. The first time, I got grapes from a vineyard, brought them home, stomped on them in the bathtub like Lucille Ball did in “I Love Lucy,” bottled the concoction, let it ferment for a couple of weeks and brought it back to the vineyard, where the winemaker tried it and exclaimed, “It tastes like nail polish remover!”
I went back the following year to help him make the real thing, mainly by shoveling grape skins out of a vat and watching him do the rest. The resultant vintage was dubbed Merlot Jerry. It tickled the palate. Then I sneezed.
But it wasn’t nearly as good as my coffee, which I serve in two of the approximately 85 mugs that are crammed into a couple of our kitchen cabinets.
“Good!” Sue said this morning after taking her first sip.
“I’m glad,” I replied, waiting for the caffeine to kick in, “that you don’t have grounds for complaint.”
Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Hearst Connecticut Media and is the author of four books. His latest is “Nini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures.” Email: JerryZ111@optonline.net. Blog: www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com.