Every morning I find myself waiting in a long line at Starbucks. Alongside my fellow addicts, I restlessly contemplate the first "fix" of the day. At that moment of profound contemplation, a horizon of endless possibilities stretches before my sleepy eyes. A blackberry green tea frappuccino blended with cream, a caffè latte or a shot of espresso? Invariably, I vote against a sugary sweet selection and go for something pungent, dark, hot and jolting. It is certain: I like my coffee like I like my men.
Coffee revives, stimulates and elates us. For many, this invigorating beverage is a need, an anchor, a compulsion. It has benefits and downsides. Depending on the manner of its consumption, caffeine can energize the mind or wire the body to tremble on the tight rope of anxiety. Once hooked, the aficionado forever yearns for its delicious aroma zinging the taste buds to life. The inexplicable pleasure derived from this dark liquid keeps the enthusiast coming back for more.
Coffee is a lot like love. A sip can be scrumptiously delightful or nauseatingly bad – depending on the brew and the blend. Some cups, like certain experiences, are exhilarating, while others are wretched. Every so often, one feels compelled to search the world for exquisitely exotic flavors, but that nostalgic longing for the comforting tang of the familiar persists. Let’s face it; love and coffee entice us to indulge. No matter how ferociously we resist, in a moment of weakness, going in for another try is inevitable. After all, as my famous namesake Oscar once wrote, "I can resist everything, but temptation."
Coffee and men are matters of taste. Certain people prefer familiar and mild options like a milky café au lait. These women are most likely to get married to their college sweethearts and live immersed in domestic bliss. Others are into sampling foreign aromas. Such adventure seekers tend to chase after rare thrills, like the irresistible hunk from Argentina or the sizzling Adonis from Mykonos. Then there are the incurable gluttons for pain, guzzling the black frothiness of Turkish coffee day after day. The elixir of Bosporus attracts them, as its powerful taste is akin to profound heartache -- sharp, piercing and simply exquisite.
Who does not want the enveloping warmth of fairytale love stories? Gentle, sugary, light and easy to swallow affairs; laced with cuddles, kisses, and public displays of affection? Which soul doesn't long to be healed, spoiled, and embraced? The universality of this need renders the soothing and syrupy molten goodness of hot chocolate an all time favorite. But even blissful delight gets oppressive. After ages of taking refuge in safety, the heart yearns to fall from soaring heights. In the end, much like the restless heroine in Dido's song, "the queen wants to be hunter again." Thus, she springs forth into the battle ground of dating, where millions of men and women grope for one another blindfolded. In the dark they reach out, using the senses as the sole reliable compass.
Some give up milk and sugar because they are bored. Others settle for safe bets because the acrid aftertaste of bitter drinks leaves them exhausted. One too many catastrophes later, they embrace reliable, harmless, nontoxic concoctions. With time the mundane safety of complacency grows on them. Realizing to wish is to hope and to hope is to want; they stop wishing and reach for the good old, chipped yet enduring mug. Lost in coffee rings, habit becomes life.
However, no single taste can satisfy the palette forever. Over time even a favorite grows old, boring and dull. Then, it is necessary to spice things up with a side of biscotti or a drop of honey or, perhaps, caramel. But sometimes dire situations call for drastic measures. This could mean abandoning your usual café Americano (black, no cream, no sugar) for an iced mocha blend topped with whipped cream. Similarly, some relationships can survive the test of time, as long as both parties make a mutual effort to keep things new and exciting. But if the sex life is gone and partners are mere friends rooming together, reaching for a new "pick-me-up" may be the only solution.
Coming out of a hiatus, one hungrily reaches for new tastes, new blends, new, smells, new affairs, new beds, new arms, and new embraces. Then, all of a sudden change gets uninteresting, wearisome, and soul-numbing. In a cosmos of one night stands, romance becomes a valuable commodity. Short-lived, overpowering, jolts like a macchiato begin to cause heart burn. Ironically, while the disenchanted put down the cup to wind down, those newly awakened from a long slumber reach for the button of the coffee maker. And the cycle continues.
Every morning before we hop onto the rat wheel people shout out their orders to the bright-eyed, peppy, and most definitely caffeinated Starbucks personnel: grande decaf with a splash of half and half, double cappuccino and a cinnamon stick, nonfat chai latte or a tall Guatemalan roast, straight up! Standing aloof in the frenzy, I ask for a double shot espresso. Like I said, I like my coffee like I like my men.