Wednesday, September 08, 2004

We make ourselves laugh 

One of the running jokes around our house is that I am unable to use the espresso maker. It’s not that Paul has never shown me how. He has - more than once - demonstrated all of the steps involved in transforming coffee beans and cold milk into a delicious, foamy, caffeinated treat. And, once upon a time, I did make a latte or two for myself. But I’ve never learned to make a really good coffee drink. My lattes were too weak, too bitter, too… made by me. We joke, on occasion, that I must have sustained some sort of brain injury. He marvels that the only lasting effect of my brain damage is an inability to properly tamp grounds and steam milk; I nod, and remark that the brain is truly amazing and mysterious.

Since Paul is much more of a morning person than I, and a sweetheart to boot, he has, most mornings of the past several years, brought me a coffee drink in bed. One of the lovely little pleasures in my life is hearing my husband coming down the hall to deliver a freshly-made latte to my bedside table, singing his own special coffee delivery song:
Coffee drink delivery service
Coffee drink, if you are nervous
About how you’re going to wake
Have yourself a coffee break.
When Paul went into the hospital for surgery in February, he asked what I was going to do about coffee in the morning. I told him that I could buy coffee drinks, or get my caffeine in diet Cokes, and that’s what I did. The UW Medical Center has an espresso stand (this is Seattle, after all), and there are several coffee places within blocks of our house. There were more important things on my mind than coffee. I coped. And, within a month or so, Paul was making coffee drinks for me again.

Summer arrived, bringing more than the usual heat. I did not want hot coffee drinks, so Paul brought me cold lattes. At some point, he realized that he could set up the espresso maker at night, so that it was ready to go at the flip of a switch. Then I could flip that switch! Because he’d set up the machine, the espresso would be good! And you don’t steam milk for a cold latte… just pour in the cold stuff! This I could do, even with that brain injury. It worked fine for a couple of weeks.

This morning, when I went downstairs to feed the cats, I saw that Paul had not refilled the espresso maker for my morning coffee drink. I faced a dilemma: to forego my morning coffee, or to make it myself? And, if I made it myself, how could I explain that to Paul? This morning I really needed the coffee. I looked in the coffee grinder, hoping there might be some beans ground that I could use. Alas, the grinder was empty. There was no way that this would be a stealth espresso. But I needed coffee. So I ground, and measured, and tamped, and poured, and pushed the magic switch... and there was espresso. I added some milk, and it was... good enough.

Heading back upstairs, I found Paul still in bed, but awake. He looked at the mug in my hand. He knew.

K (straightfaced, setting mug on bedside table): "Guess what just happened. I went down to the kitchen to feed the cats, and somehow, magically, there was coffee in the machine."

P (amused, faking puzzled): "Did I set the machine up and forget I'd done it?"

K (crawling back into bed, trying not to laugh): "No, it wasn’t set up when I went into the kitchen. I don’t know what happened."

P (still faking, but smiling): "I thought I heard the coffee grinder, but I wasn’t sure. You didn’t make that coffee?"

K (pulling covers up, sliding over next to P): "Well, I don’t see how I could’ve, with my brain injury and all."

P (not quite laughing yet): "You know, sometimes the brain heals itself. Maybe your brain’s making new neural pathways..."

K (playing footsie with P, starting to giggle): "But if that were the case, you’d think I’d remember it. I must’ve been in some sort of a fugue state, because I can’t remember anything."

P (chuckling, hooking arm through mine): "A fugue state? You’re losing time? This could be serious..."

Snuggled in our bed, bantering and laughing... what a lovely way to start the morning.