Of Its Own Volition

My father was an early riser. He took pity on his half-frozen, icicle of a first-borne male child as he poured me a cup of his fresh brewed Butter-Nut in a brown melmac* cup with accompanying white saucer.


tres chic

in the land of Baloney on White with Miracle Whip.

It was an upgrade from the pink melmac set which preceded it. My little brother once launched some pink melmac down the laundry chute to test Mom’s theory that it was unbreakable.

Theory disproved. Sorry, Mom.

It was April, 1971 and I had just stumbled in at 6 a.m. from

delivering newspapers

after one of the biggest snowfalls in Wichita history. 13 inches.

I was 13 and have been drinking coffee ever since.

Today, I’m a Starbucks man. French or Italian Roast. Extra Bold.

Strong enough to walk.

Find a winner and stick with it.

Nothin’ worse than getting stuck behind a


coffee drinker in line at the coffee shop. You know the type.

“Umm, yes, I’ll have a double low-fat extra

con leche

quad frappuccino

au lait

grande soy caramel chai decaf… with room for cream… if it’s not too much trouble?”

Aaargh. Mocha chocha latte ya ya.

My turn, finally.

“A shot in the dark.”

Any barista worth his/her (her/his?) salt is hip. For you Maxwell Housers, it’s shot of espresso in the best, darkest joe available. Sometimes called a ‘depth charge.’

At the corporate Taj Mahal, some poor schlub gets up at oh-dark-thirty (“other duties as assigned”) and brews an industrial-sized vat o’ battery acid in a machine the size of a small Buick crossover. It’s called… wait for it…



. (Why do I envision Suzanne Somers?)

This is my backup java. If I’ve failed to bring along the good stuff from home, or swung by Bluestem Bistro, Radina’s or Starbucks

en route


Over the years, I’ve developed some bad habits related to drinking coffee.

A colleague at a radio news network once remarked, when breaking in a new guy, “Don’t put anything you care about near Matson. He’ll spill coffee on it.”

Tru dat.

Shiny and clean. 3x per FY.

At work I tend not to be as vigilant as maybe I should be about washing my coffee mug. It generally averages out to about three times each fiscal year.

When the bottom-of-the-mug leavings begin to evolve into a life form possessing the instincts to move across the room of its own volition, perhaps it’s time for a quick rinse.

Back to the melmac.

When I was but a lad, on occasion, the old man would “saucer and blow” his Butter-Nut. Actually pour the coffee into the saucer and pound it down after it cooled.

No way could I do that.

I’d spill it.


* It says something (though I’m not sure what) when the spellchecker doesn’t even recognize the word “melmac.”