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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Breaking Up with Joe

I’ve had to say goodbye to a good friend recently. To a dear, bold companion. My steaming cup ‘o joe. My beloved coffee. Sigh. Parting is such sorrow. (Notice I omitted sweet.)

Before you think this decision is some testament to my discipline or that it’s is rooted in some deeper spiritual meaning, I’ll tell you right off the bat, it’s purely for digestive reasons. I’m only doing this because my GI tract indubitably demanded it. And so far, my intestines and stomach have been much happier organs now that Joe has left the building. My taste buds are crying out unfair but my stomach is telling them to suck it up and deal with it.

My husband got me hooked on coffee twelve years ago. Come to think of it, that’s not entirely true. It was my son to be exact, when I was carrying him. (Funny how even in utero our children have that kind of power.) Most women lose their taste for coffee during pregnancy but mine was just revving up. The rich aroma of Doug’s coffee actually soothed my precarious stomach in those early months- that and lemon heads- and I eventually started drinking it. Loaded with sugar and cream at first but as the years went by, I gave up the additives and craved pure, unadulterated coffee.

But now, for whatever reason, coffee just isn’t “working” for me anymore.

So now I start the morning with a nice cup of hot lemon water. Or herbal tea. And I tell myself that it’s just as good. And when my husband’s not looking, I hover my face over his coffee cup and inhale the steam. And just to prove this isn’t legalistic, I sometimes cheat. Like this Sunday afternoon, when  I savored a quarter of a cup of French Roast while lounging on the couch reading Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help”. Pure heaven.

It’s clearly good for me, this coffee deprival, but I still fall into whining. The first two weeks of my fast I’d pass a Starbucks and burst into tears.

I’m over that now. I’m over Joe. You know what? He wasn’t such hot stuff after all. Sure, he was charming. Sure he was lovely and comforting and exhilarating, all wrapped in one. But so is my lemon water.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Pencil Box full of Scabs

When I was in the third grade a boy name Brent Something-Or-Other wanted to give me a rather startling gift: his  pencil box full of scabs. Yes, scabs. The kind you see branded across kids knees. That kind your mother told you not to pick or else they might scar. He’d been saving them all year, he boasted, and he wanted to give them to none other than little ‘ol me. I’m not sure if he was serious, or playing an icky-nine-year-old-boy joke, or if had emotional problems and, being as shy as I was, I never discovered his intent. Although it was clear from his abundant pencil box, he’d had his fair share of scrapes and falls over the school year.

Eeeeeew. I know. I’m sorry. The lengths I go to make an analogy.

Sometimes when I’ve found, in my opinion, a nifty men’s sweater at Kohls, I have to pause and ask myself: Is this a gift my husband would truly want, or is it merely a pencil box full of scabs? In other words, would the intended receiver desire this, or is it just something I’d like to give, something I like and want him/her to wear/watch/read/own?

Like an American Girl doll. I really, really want one. A sweet little dark haired Asian doll that looks like my daughter. At this point, my daughter couldn’t care less. (And yes, I realize the money I’m saving on this one.) Or years ago when my son was in pre-school and I obsessed over all the Fisher Price town pieces: the farm, the airplane, the gas station, the school…. It’s sad when a mother has to bribe her youngster to play “Little People” with her. (“Please, please, please? I’ll let you be the fireman?”)

An object becomes a gift when its receiver deems it valuable.

Mother’s Day is coming up. And of course any old thing my kids wrap up and put in my hands will be just perfect because honestly, when it comes to our babies, we moms are suckers for sentimentality. You picked out this rock all by yourself? I absolutely love it! How did you know?

So on this Mother’s Day, enjoy your bouquet of weeds, your denser than a rock but made with love cake, your gargantuan earrings that will stretch your earlobes like taffy, your macaroni necklace that leaves traces of paint on your collarbone. These are the gifts of incalculable value. That little sticky faced giver is what makes the gift "just perfect". 

And as for all the other not-from-our-kids gifts we receive that fall short, someone came up with a brilliant catchall phrase: it’s the thought that counts.

Sure. Okay. But I still can’t apply that to Brent.