Quick Recipes and Easy

The Far Side of Perfect: Welcome to the Dark (Roast) Side

I don’t trust people who don’t drink coffee for four reasons: (1) They obviously have some sort of natural edge over me; (2) they hail from that mythical land of nod where they regularly get uninterrupted nights of sleep; (3) they must have some other addiction that I don’t know about; or (4) they don’t have any addictions at all and therefore barely qualify as human — just like all those people who exercise at 5:30 a.m. in the morning.

I used to be one of those non-coffee drinkers. But, I came over to the dark side the day I enrolled in law school and started reading dull texts; attending 7:30 a.m. classes in ancient, unheated buildings; and waking up repeatedly from night terrors involving not studying for a test, not knowing where or when a test was being given, and not having enough credits to graduate.

It’s now well over a decade later, and I’ve managed to place law school far behind me, although I still occasionally wake up in a cold sweat over a school-related nightmare. These are often followed by a sigh of relief that it’s just a nightmare and not early menopause.But, my sleepless nights are more often the result of working late, and a child who every hour on the hour needs a drink of water, a visit to the bathroom, or to climb into bed with Mommy. (As a single parent since my son’s birth, I’ve never had the luxury of saying those three magic words on which most marriages hinge: “It’s your turn.”) On the flip side, at least somebody wants to climb into bed with Mommy these days.

I’ve resorted to bribery for the latter (meaning paying my child not to climb into bed with me), but I’ve come to accept the fact that not working late really increases the middle of the night panic attacks where counting the items on my never-ending “to do” list never quite manages to place me back to sleep. Hence, I’m forced into frequent worship at the altars of the patron saints of coffee beans, otherwise known as Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks.

But, coffee is not just about the caffeine. It also serves as an integral social connecter in most people’s lives. Coffee brings people together whether we’re conversing with colleagues in the company kitchen (cursing the coffee cad, who has once again left just enough in the pot to avoid brewing a fresh one; yet never enough for more than a quarter cup of dregs); visiting the local coffee shop with friends; or, for those of us who work from home, using Starbucks as our official conference room.

Why? Because coffee is the ultimate equalizer. We’re all the same in the eyes of the barista and our desperate desire for that decadent cup of dark roast. And while a “double decaf venti latte frappawhatever” from Starbucks may be more expensive than a gallon of gasoline these days, it’s still accessible to most everyone (as opposed to excellent hair days and that new Dolce & Gabbana suit I’ve had my eye on).

Yet, for those of you able to resist the soothing aroma, I congratulate you. And, as I sit here in Starbucks writing this column and relishing my tall coffee of the day, I offer a conciliatory, although somewhat wary, toast to the non-coffee drinkers within our realm. (Meanwhile, in the back of my mind, a John Williams’ theme song is playing, and in a galaxy far, far away, Darth Vader is warning Luke Skywalker to “[never] underestimate the power of the Dark Side.”)

Diane K. Danielson is the CEO of DowntownWomensClub.com DowntownWomensClub.com, a business network and career website for women. For more of her random musing, check out her blog at womensDISH.com womensDISH.com

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