Chris Gay is a Connecticut based Author and Voice-Over Talent

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The Gripping Tale of My Only Cup of Coffee, Ever

By Chris Gay

The year was 1979. With it came the debut of the Sony Walkman, the Happy Meal and ESPN. The Pittsburgh Pirates had actually won the World Series. (I’m not kidding; look it up) Among those notable happenings was yet one more that’s remembered, if at all, with much less fanfare. It was the year that saw me consume both my first and last cup of coffee.

I was seven, and having spent most my youth with my great-grandma I had become more and more curious about the taste of the dark, aromatic brew she consumed with regularity. My curiosity ultimately got the best of me, and I asked to try a cup. She told me I wouldn’t like it. I told her I would. She reminded me that we had had a similar conversation once when I’d asked to sample her bar of baker’s chocolate. In that instance, she’d warned me that it tasted nothing like the standard Hershey bars I’d become accustomed with. I didn’t believe her. She was right. This time would be different, though. In hindsight I’d never seen anyone snacking on baker’s chocolate; but every grown-up I knew drank coffee.

I asked her over and over until she at last acquiesced. On that memorable morning, she opened a fresh can and began the ceremonial Brewing of the Grounds. Though it was a daily ritual for her, this time brought with it an air of greater significance. It was to be the day I took another step toward adulthood, while simultaneously pushing my youth a little further into the rear-view mirror. Once I had conquered coffee, I figured the only rung left on the ladder to full-fledged maturity would be to extricate myself from the smaller table at Thanksgiving. That was the future though, and this was the present. I still had to prove my mettle and somehow best the bitter beverage.

As the brown liquid percolated and fell into the coffeepot drop by drop I wondered if the old adage be careful what you wish for was actually true. There was still time to back out. My great-grandma was one of the all time good ones. She’d understand and, what’s more, she’d keep my flip-flopping to herself. No, I finally decided. It would be drunk. After all, I’d already been on this Earth long enough to have seen seven Christmases in person; easily old enough to handle one nondescript cup of coffee.

Suddenly, a familiar scent filled the kitchen; one I had come to know only too well. Time was growing short. Grandma reached into the cupboard and took down one of the white plastic cups with the weighted, inexplicably yellow bottoms she favored for these more caffeinated occasions. It looked like a Weeble-Wobble except that the top was open, so if you were to tip it over, instead of bouncing itself back into place, it would stay down and spill out its contents. Clearly, that was merely a procrastinating thought that carried no relevance now. Coffee time was upon, and I was wavering.

With all the drips now dropped, Grandma pulled the coffeepot from the hotplate and poured my cup, seemingly oblivious to the magnitude of the moment. She placed it in front of me while I tried my best to look unconcerned in my generic, yellow football pajamas. I took it, and then glanced up at her. For one brief moment our eyes locked. Hers filled with sympathy; mine, with apprehension. In the distance I could hear the tick-tock of the old Seth Thomas clock that she had brought with her many years before from Scranton, Pennsylvania to East Hartford, Connecticut. The moment held a little longer. She began to look at me as if I was awaiting a call from the governor. If so, none came. I raised the cup to my lips and, after one more slight hesitation, took my sip. “Well?” She asked with uncharacteristic impatience. I briefly considered what I had just consumed and then reached my verdict. “This sucks, Grandma.” She nodded, knowingly.

Over the years that followed I’ve often considered trying another cup. Especially nowadays, when coffee comes in more flavors than a bag of Jelly Bellies. I’ve even walked into the occasional Starbucks; albeit only to buy a large cookie and the tasty, frozen green tea concoction that my ex-wife introduced me to a few years back. Perhaps at some point the day will come when I am willing to try again, if only to stop being subjected to the snide commentary I receive when someone sees me drinking a diet soda at eight in the morning. Until that day comes however, I’ll content myself with the one special memory coffee allowed me to share with my great-grandmother in 1979

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Chris Gay: Writer, Author, Broadcaster, Voice-Over Artist

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Chris Gay Author, Writer and voice-over artist
Writer, Author, Broadcaster,  Voice-Over Artist