Of Caffeine and Chins

Time is ticking. Just not on this awesome Cartier watch, unfortunately.
Time is ticking. Just not on this awesome Cartier watch, unfortunately.

Those of you who know me will find this SHOCKING. I mean really.  Prepare. Assume the crash position. Yesterday, for the first time EVER, I… was … running late.  I know.  Contain yourself.  It’s impossible to picture me, the epitome of promptness, being tardy.  I’m sorry for shattering your image of me.  Please continue to read nonetheless.

I’ve never figured out why, but whenever I’m running late, I find myself uncontrollably compelled to undertake silly tasks that eat up precious time and could sooooooooo easily wait until another juncture. I’m sure there’s some deep-rooted issue associated with this behavior. Most likely, it links back to Jan, who had a habit of waiting to commence her preparation for external family gatherings until about five minutes after we were supposed to be at the homes of certain relatives.  I have several recollections of my father screaming across our ranch house from the den to the bedroom, “JAN! Are you ready? We were supposed to be there already!” And Jan screaming back, “Hold your high horses.  I’m getting into the shower”

I shall refrain from commenting on her use of the term “high horses.” But it’s one of many gems she utters regularly.  Note to self. Idea for blog post: Top 10 Jan-isms.

A few examples of things I have been known to do regularly even though there is absolutely no time and even less urgency:

  • Cut cuticles and/or file nails
  • Shave legs when said legs will be fully covered by at least one layer of clothing and thus invisible to the world
  • Empty dishwasher
  • Conjure  most random person I can and see if he/she is on Facebook
  • Stare into space
  • Caress wedding band worn during ill-fated time with Sloth and pray to one day sport such an item again
  • Inspect muzzles of various stuffed animals (most often Milty, the floppy and myopic moose; Droozy, the feisty but innocent palm-sized puppy; and Horsie, the rogue Texan equine)
  • Attempt to locate t-shirt that I have not worn in at least two years and will continue to not wear
  • Wait to get out of bed until after completely irrelevant Today Show segments have finished.  These include: local traffic (I live in the city and drive nowhere, ever); the Willard Scott/Smuckers birthday announcements (because without the knowledge that Sadie Smith of West Bumblefrick, Arkansas is now 104, an age she reached thanks to whiskey and Marlboro Reds, how can I really do my job?); the importance of early prostate cancer detection (I have no prostate); managing your money (I have no money); and of course, do-it-yourself Christmas decorations (a must for every Jewish girl).

You might think this inability to get the day rolling has something to do with my night owl tendencies. (For a good read on this side topic, see this Rachel Birnbaum essay from the New York Press. She sounds like me in many ways.) And it might. But it doesn’t. It’s just some kind of freakish thing in my DNA. I’m like one of those poor souls in an Oliver Sacks book with no concept of right versus wrong, hat versus wife, or rush hour versus leisure time.

Another frequent but understandable delay involves the procurement of my morning coffee — iced at this time of the year. I don’t know if this act actually CAN wait, so perhaps it’s not fair to include it here, but let’s say it is.  Even if I am beyond late, even if I have the most important meeting in the history of meetings, even if I can hear the subway rumbling beneath my feet or see the bus pulling up to the stop, I MUST stop at the little silver urban coffee cart.

In my  neighborhood, there is such a little silver cart on the corner right by the subway entrance. The man inside the cart is very kind, but very slow, and also very hairy.  I have no reason to believe he sheds during coffee pour-age, and in fact, he always wears a hair net and gloves. But I have to admit, it leaves me a smidge grossed out. His elaborate system for pouring in the half-and-half, then the coffee, then the ice, THEN inserting the straw and removing the paper from all but the very tip allows me to focus on the hirsutism for a few minutes every day. I try not to let it get to me because I really don’t want to change my routine. For almost three years, I have been able to purchase and drink coffee from this man without incident.

Yesterday, there was a disheveled middle-aged woman standing next to me as I waited.  I don’t know if she too was waiting, or if she was just loitering because she has the hots for the barrista or something.  But at the exact moment he handed me my iced coffee, I happened to espy two long, gray and particularly disgusto whiskers sticking out of her chin.

Big fat EW! Thanks for the whisker latte, lady! Blech! (Please note, I am not judging. I merely find it ew-inducing.)

In what I can only assume to be a case of transference (not wanting to think ill of the cart man, I thought ill of the chin), I was completely  unable to drink the iced coffee.  The woman hadn’t gone anywhere near my cup, but I remained convinced that somewhere inside lurked one of her chin hairs. And even when I was able to put that possibility aside for a nanosecond, I found myself haunted by the sight of them.

Frick on an unwaxed, untweezed, unthreaded, un-Naired stick.

The damage was done. It’s over.  It was a good run while it lasted. But now I have to break up with the cart man. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, I arrived at work not only late, but uncaffeinated.  I am 90 percent certain this was some sort of cosmic lesson about the importance of promptness.  And it’s true. If I had just put my shoes on during instead of after the Ensure commercial, I would have missed the chin.

Of Caffeine and Chins

Spilling the Beans

Why didn't I think of this?
Why didn't I think of this?

It was my turn to make the afternoon pilgrimage to Starbucks. Typically, the individual responsible for the daily Starbucks run takes at least one other person with him or her, because it just isn’t possible to carry more than two caffeinated beverages unless one has disturbingly large hands.  But due to a seemingly endless Customer Service meeting that occupied a large portion of my co-workers, I found myself flying solo. 

I was a smidge concerned because I was sporting a cute frock I’d only worn once before, and one of the girls had requested a tall, hot coffee. Never once have I been able to tote a hot coffee any distance without involuntarily demonstrating a little move I like to call the spill-n-scald. Recently, I discovered that by piling 50+ napkins on top of the Starbucks lid, I could greatly cut down on both spillage and scaldage.  Unfortunately, in today’s eco-friendly, greener-than-thou environment, grabbing so many napkins is frowned upon with excessive condescension.  I dreaded the dirty looks I’d get from Birkenstock-wearing, soy latte and green tea drinkers in Chelsea.  Still, the dirty looks were preferable to the ruined expensive white tops.

Today, however, when the barrista slid me the tall hot coffee I’d ordered, there was a mysterious green thing sticking out of the sip hole.  Fascinating! Some lucky individual — probably employed at a crappy job which caused him to require copious amounts of caffeine — had invented a coffee cork! This toothpick-esque sliver of plastic prevented leakage and was alarmingly simple. The guy was probably a bazillionaire now with a lifetime supply of Starbucks. That bastard! Why had I not thought of this?

Thanks to the plug, I managed to deliver the coffee in pristine conditon — having lost nary a drop. I also delivered an ice coffee with grace and aplomb. Then, gently, I began to pull my own drink — a caramel frappuccino – out of the cardboard tray. The lid came flying off and within a nanosecond, the lower half of my dress was covered in sugary beige sludge. 

The moral of the story is: some people are lucky. Some people end up covered in sludge.

Spilling the Beans