Sunday, December 03, 2006

Confessions of Coffee

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It's all Randy's fault. Or maybe the fault lies with my own inability to listen to the warning bells set off in my teenaged brain, wise beyond my years at the time. Regardless of fault, it's a fact. I have an addiction. Coffee.

I never drank coffee - for the most part - until I was in my late twenties. I did acquire a taste for the stuff as a teenager camping with my mother and step-father at Percy Quin Park.

We camped in a travel trailer - not much privacy. Every morning at the crack of dawn, my mother and step-father would get up to drink coffee and talk. As my bed was on top of the dining area, it was kinda hard to sleep. I'm a pretty smart girl and very easy to train. I was outnumbered so I decided to join them.

Every day for two solid weeks, I had coffee with the parents at 6 a.m. We returned home and I was looking forward to blissfully sleeping in until my summertime usual of 7 or 8. I was really angry that Monday morning to find myself wide awake at 6. I rolled over in bed burrowed under my pillow. That lasted for maybe 10 minutes. I sat up in bed and realized I was shaking. I felt queasy and weak. When I finally made it to the kitchen in the back of the house where the folks were having their coffee and told my mom how I felt, she announced, "Oh, you just need your coffee."

"NEED my coffee?"

"Yeah, your body got used to having it everyday. You're having withdrawals."

"After two weeks, I'm addicted to coffee?? No, way!"

And with that, I decided I never wanted to taste anything that made feel like I NEEDED it ever again. It took me a month to get over my two week habit and finally not wake up at 6, shaking.

I stuck to my guns for a good 13 years and would've made it further except for taking a job on the worst movie ever made. It was one of those nightmare jobs I had built my reputation on - taking over in the middle of a job for a fired crew. This particular movie, "Blood In, Blood Out" (that would be a gang reference, not a horror movie) was a few days into shooting when I was hired. I was allowed to hire a couple of my own people as per usual. I hired a secretary and my old buddy from film school, Randy.

Randy was new to Hollywood and had every thing I was looking for in a good p.a. He listened, followed directions and understood the basic rule of Hollywood: CYA. That stands for Cover Your Ass. And if you are really good at your job, it means cover the ass of the person who hired you. I trusted him and I knew he would take care of me.

The shoot was brutal and getting worse. We were shooting in East L.A. A no-man's land of warehouses, dead end streets, gang turf and homeless people. Not the kind of place I wanted to be in broad daylight, forget about dark. We were on an endless string of 16 - 18 hour days. Food was brought into our office from the set due to the lack of restaurants in the area.

One day, Randy, being the ever friendly Mississippi Chinese boy he still is struck up a conversation with a location guy and discovered there was a Cafe / Art gallery a mere two blocks away. He checked it out and returned with cappuccinos for everyone along with cookies. I took the cookie and declined the coffee.

The cookies from Cafe Vignes were a work of art. A basic chocolate chip dough with "sweep of the kitchen" nuts, dried fruit and chips. Literally, whatever the chef felt like throwing in on any given day ended up in these delectable goodies.

So every day around 3, just as the afternoon slump was hitting, Randy would take coffee orders and return with cookies and coffees. For weeks, I would comment on how good the coffee smelled but would only take a cookie.

Daily, Randy would implore me to order a coffee. By 3 p.m., we had all been at work for a good nine hours - and most likely had another nine to go. I was always exhausted and Randy - in true CYA fashion - was just looking out for me.

And one day, he approached with my cookie and placed a cappuccino on my desk. "Try it, you'll like it."

Randy, having known me since college seemed to know just how I would like my coffee. Here comes the big confession - I've never grown up. I still take my coffee the way all small children drink their "coffee milk" - milk with lots of sugar and splash of coffee.

Now that I've grown up (on the outside) I prefer to say that coffee should be like a fine lady, fair and oh so sweet.

And so, my daily habit returned. When I left that show, I bought myself a Krups Cafe Presso Espresso coffee machine. And today, she sighed her last drop of steam... 15 years of great frothy cappuccinos. Her replacement is sitting next to her on the kitchen counter. I can't quite bring myself to toss her yet.

3 comments:

Sunflower Optimism said...

After reading this I'm very :-(

I do enjoy a good cup of coffee. But caffeine, wine, sugar now forbidden by several doctors. So I am relegated to decaf - and believe you me, I really NEED that hi-test some days!

So enjoy WHAT you can, WHEN you can! Time to christen that new cappucino maker. Oh - and have one for me ;-)

Velvet Sacks said...

I've never acquired a taste for coffee, but caffeine has a grip on me nonetheless. I can't go to bed at night without knowing there's a cold Diet Coke in the fridge to drink first thing in the morning.

May your new Espresso machine bring you as many faithful years of enjoyment as the dearly departed one did.

CreekHiker said...

Sunflower, That sugar has been replaced by equal and milk is non fat. But, I'm such an expert on this machine, I can make non fat milk froth and foam and have been known to inform snipity waiters that they just don't know how to use a cappuccino machine if they can't make non fat foam!

Velvet, I too was a Diet Coke fiend before Randy brought me that fateful cappuccino. This year, I gave up all soda and dropped 10 lbs. without trying! I do miss it sometimes...