Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The Breakfast of Champions


There are very few things I allow to interrupt or disturb my morning coffee ritual. So ingrained in my habits, that if I were ever really important enough to kill, a hit man (whom, I hope, was paid quite handsomely) would have no trouble pinpointing the time and place to dispatch me. In short, a cost effective hit.

Most mornings I rise early. Before turning on the lights, I feel around the top of my nightstand in the manner of the blind (excuse me, sight impaired) and find my cigarettes and lighter. As if interpreting Braille, I determine the filter end with my right hand and shove it my mouth. With my left (and this is one of the very few ambidextrous skills I possess) flick the zippo to see my first light of the day. After a few puffs, I rise like Lazarus and make my way to the kitchen where I switch on the coffee maker that was prepared the night before. In the few minutes it takes for the first cup to brew, I smoke and stare mostly. There are no coherent thought processes occurring beyond the craving of the second level of the McClelland food pyramid – caffeine.

The first cup is poured - black and strong and with a decided preference for French Roast. Wrapping my hands around the cup to absorb its warmth and to loosen my increasingly arthritic fingers, I raise the cups to my lips. My children when they were small learned to avoid Dad at this moment. Much like small animals that can sense earthquakes, they seemed to instinctively understand that the course of the entire day is often determined in that first sip.

Another cigarette is lit and a marvelous transformation occurs. I turn into an optimist.

Mind you, not one of those perky “ain’t it grand to be alive” optimists who have no grasp on reality. Or worse yet, those studied corporate types recently returned from a self-help seminar that want impose their optimism upon you and the rest of the world for monetary gain. No, just for that tiny sliver of time in the early morning, all is right with the world. The flowers bloom, the poets sing, and the children are happy. Fleeting though it may be, twenty minutes or so, the world has possibilities. The cynic in me, the pessimist, the nay-saying old crank, the cultural grinch who still believes in the Western Canon, standards and views the happenings in the world with marked disdain yields the floor to this metamorphosis of the spirit. After all, what has he to lose? He knows very well that he will always be called back into service. The morning news insures this.

It seems the culture of optimism has yet another victim – Krispy Kreme doughnuts. In a headline that says it all, ‘Krispy Kreme Vows To Meet Low-Carb Challenge’, the manufacturer of one of the essential food groups is bowing to pressure from the health nazi lobby to cut the fats, carbohydrates, and sugars; in short, everything that makes them such tasty little critters in the first place. After coffee and a cigarette, nothing quite lights up the day like a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut (unless, of course, there is bacon frying in the skillet!).

Let’s face the unpleasant facts shall we (the pessimistic cynic has returned at this point), dieting is nothing more than optimism ran amok. There is no magic formula. People eat too damn much and they lie on their ass and they get fat. Case closed.

But the health fascists are not satisfied. Like Stalinists of old (another group of incorrigible optimists), they seek perfection and do not care how they do it. The end justifies the means with a vengeance with this crew. They have sought and largely won exile for that most vile of creatures – the smoker. They have turned California, New York, and the whole nation of Ireland into terra non grata for that ilk. California, the truth told, is not much missed, but New York…and Ireland!

They have tried repeatedly to prove that coffee is bad for you, but have yet to provide ‘conclusive’ evidence. They have inflicted the most worthless beverage ever created on the unsuspecting public, decaf. I mean, what is the point?

To take a phrase from that eternal optimist, Lenin, you might ask; “What is to be done?” I will let you know after I have another cup of coffee and a cigarette.

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