de·caf (/ˈdēˌkaf/) n. – Coffee without coffee

by ANNE GARDNER
edited by ANDREW HICKS

Image from Cubiclecoffee.com

Today begins like any other day, except that by the time I roll out of bed it’s already too hot outside to be alive. This morning, we get up, we take baths, and we get ready for my 4 year old’s play date. If you do not yet have children, doubtless you are unaware of the glorious splendor of the drop-off play date. And if you only have one child, please realize the play date becomes exponentially more glorious once you are parent to multiple children.

So we get ready, and we load ourselves into the car and head down to my daughter’s friend’s house. I drop her off, make plans with the mom for pick up, and then head on over to my happy haven, Starbucks. At this point, I just have my 4 month old in the car. It’s 105 degrees outside, so we decide to take advantage of the drive thru. Just my luck, there’s no line. I pull up, place my order, and pull around to the window to await my pseudo-refreshment.

Why do you call it pseudo-refreshment, Anne? you ask. Well, since my son was born, I’ve sworn off caffeine. Caffeine passes through breast milk, and since I’m breastfeeding and would prefer not to have to care for a rowdy infant, I’ve been assuaging my coffee addiction by ordering decaf instead. And in terms of taste, I’ve actually grown accustomed to decaf and can no longer tell the difference.

The angel at the window passes me my drink and breakfast sandwich, and she swipes my Starbucks Gold Card (yeah, that’s right) for payment. While I wait for her to process payment, I realize my drive-thru barrista has forgotten my straw. And, in an amazing demonstration of willpower, I somehow resist the compulsion to stick my tongue through the hole in the top to lick some of the whipped cream in the meantime.

I get my straw, pull forward, unsheathe the straw and slip it into my drink. Casually taking a sip, I immediately have to put on the brakes just before the exit. As the icy-cool and delicious full-fat, extra-whip Mocha Coconut Frappuccino hits the back of my throat, my eyes roll back into my head. A chill runs down my spine, and I have something that feels an awful lot like a mini-orgasm. Before I can suppress my religious upbringing, I’ve uttered a silent prayer of gratitude that goes something like, “Thank the Sweet Lord Jesus Christ in heaven.”

I stare down at my drink in wonder. What happened here? This is crazy. Oh… right. Somehow, maybe through some intervention of fate, I forgot to order decaf. And now I’m like an addict taking a blissful leap off the wagon and landing in a dark, bittersweet, rush-inducing pool of caffeine. I take another long sip to curb the sudden, irrational urge to dip my finger in my Frappuccino and rub it on my gums.

For a millisecond, I consider correcting my mistake. Silly me. As if I can allow that to happen. Then I realize another mistake, too: I CAN tell the difference between regular and decaf. And, oh, have I missed my precious, precious caffeine. I didn’t realize just how much.

On the way home, I can think of little else besides my serendipitous drink. And I’m happy, feeling energetic and less zombie-like with every moment. The familiar shakes are starting to come back, and my brain began working at lightning speeds again.

Now my mom calls to arrange pickup of my 4 year old, since she’ll be in the neighborhood. I’m giving directions: “Go south on State Street and take a right at the first stop sign, before you get to Steak N Shake.”

She repeats my words: “South on State. Right at stop sign before Starbucks.”

“No. Steak ‘n Shake. Right at the stop sign before Steak ‘n Shake.”

“You said Starbucks,” Mom informs me.

“I did?!” I laugh and tell her about my morning. I leave out the part about the mini-orgasm. Starbucks has me, and has me good. No turning back now.

When I get home, my husband and I chat for a bit before he points out a difference in my mood. I tell him the story. He stares at me, mouth gaping open. I ask, “What?”

“If that’s what you need, drink the damn coffee,” he says.

“What about the baby?”

“He’ll have to deal with it. You clearly need it. Drink coffee.” My husband, the enabler.

I guess that’s that. My son didn’t seem any different today, either. No more active or sleepless than any other day. And now I almost can’t wait until the morning, when I can select REAL coffee to brew. I can almost smell it: steamy, dark, sinister… seductive.

My name is Anne, and I’m a card-carrying, coffee-sniffing, caffeine-addicted, mocha-caramel-hazelnut-peppermint-toffee-vanilla-any-flavor-loving Javaholic. And it’s been *sluuuuuuuuurp* seconds since my last drink…

One Comment to “de·caf (/ˈdēˌkaf/) n. – Coffee without coffee”

  1. Ohhhh I SO hear you on this. Nice definition too ;o)

%d bloggers like this: