Love and the Third Degree (Burn)
A while back I did something clumsy – I poured boiling water on myself while trying to make instant coffee; I overshot the cup and scalded the back of my right hand. In no time at all, the skin turned red and started to blister. Immediately, I put it under cold water and then, because we live in a society so self-absorbed we post pictures of our food online, I immediately posted the scarred hand on my FACEBOOK page. In response, I got a few “ouch, that looks like it hurts”, and a few call outs to “stop being such a baby” along with some actual helpful information - “Silvadene, stat”. Then I got a few posts, not about the injury, but to how I received it. They seemed incredulous, the idea that anyone would actually drink instant coffee was insane. They all asked the same question: “Why in the hell do you drink instant coffee?” Well, I have an answer for them:
That’s right, love is the reason I drink instant coffee. And love is the reason I burned my hand.
Let me explain.
As a young man, I fell in love. Actually, I fell in love all the time. Usually, it was one-sided, and never amounted too much. Finally, though, I met the woman I would marry. I was happy, she was happy, as we went through the ‘all the world is beautiful’ stage of our relationship. Plus, I was getting laid. After a relatively short time (six months) we moved into an apartment together. A year later, we moved into our first house. A short time after that, we married.
It’s a familiar story; everyone has some version of married life. A bigger house, and a first child. The years start to slip by, a second child, and then unexpectedly, a third (my apologies, Danny). The whole ‘the world is beautiful’ and ‘I’m getting laid’ takes a back burner to ‘we owe the school fifteen-hundred dollars’ and ‘put that thing away’.
Eventually, we arrived at the point where fifty-percent of all marriages end – divorce. There is no positive side to a divorce, not for anyone. Although, not having enough money to live on is not the worst aspect of divorce, it doesn’t help when you live your life as a divorced man in the real world.
Remember those times after college, back in the day you didn’t automatically move in with your parents? How did you fill your living space? The repurposed milk crate that went from holding your albums to becoming a coffee table, dining room table, and TV stand. A friend’s kitchen table destined for their trash ends up in your apartment. The phrase “one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure” becomes your mantra.
With my divorce, take the above, throw in a few couches that a future ex-sister-in-law provided with pity, and you’ll understand what my life was like.
With luck, though, over time, things began to settle down to a more normal existence. I bought a townhouse, but I would never consider myself well off (I still have those pity couches). In addition, my car was soon to reach a two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand milestone. The thought of me stranded some night, in the middle of nowhere, did not appeal to me. For once, I would be pro-active; I would break-up with the car before it broke-up with me (a stark reversal of my dating history).
Already at a point where any extra expense would flip the delicate balance of debt to despair, sacrifices needed to be made. Where to find an extra three-hundred-dollars a month to allow for a car payment? I already was not a person with expensive habits, no travel, didn’t go out to dinner much (my god, I’m boring). First thing to fall victim to my new budget was my lunch. Every day, I would buy lunch at work; it was disgusting how much money I spent every day on food. But, by substituting cafeteria-lunch with a homemade-lunch, that went a long way to cover my new-and-future car payment. I was on a bologna kick for a while, but even I had my limits.
With lunches off the budget, one more item on my list I could no longer afford as a luxury: coffee. With an average of two or three cups a day, it is astonishing how quickly not buying coffee adds up. So, instead of buying my coffee over the counter, I buy instant coffee, and drink that.
So you see, in the end, love is the reason I burned my hand. Because, if I hadn’t fallen in love, I wouldn’t have gotten married, had kids, bought a house, lost a house, lived on a strict budget, needed a place to live, and needed a car to get to work, and ultimately, I never would have burned my hand.
And that, my friends, is why I drink instant coffee.