Thank you for joining me for the summer redux series. I am re-posting stories you may not have read, in the fashion of a summer re-run. We’ll get back to our regular posting schedule in a few weeks.
The original “Farewell Mr. Coffee” posted back in January 2013. It’s been embellished a little since then.
* * *
Water bubbled, steam rose, the smell of french roast coffee permeated the kitchen. Rich, black liquid filled the pot. Richard and I stared at the pot willing it to fill faster.
Sunday—day five of our freezing fog imprisonment. The white stuff, gauzy in places, wrapped our Gig Harbor, Washington, home with its chrysalis of ice.
Watching the news the night before, the weatherman said, “the ridge of high pressure will not be moving until Wednesday. If you want to see the sun, you’ll have to drive to Mt. Rainier.”
“What’s the longest stretch you’ve been without recordable sunlight?” I asked.
The coffee reached the two cup mark.
“Before this—four days,” Richard said, “and you?”
“Eight days, but it wasn’t this bad. It just rained,” I said, waving my empty cup toward the kitchen window. The sunny yellow and white curtains muted by the fog. “This is worse,” I said, ice crystals formed a lacework frame on the window, “you can’t even see ten feet in front of you. And all the muffled sounds. It’s creepy.” Twenty-five millipedes marched up my spine.
“Yeah, I feel like some monster from a Stephen King novel is gonna walk through our backyard,” Richard said, his tall lean frame shivering.
The black gold rose to the four cup mark, eight cups to go. Our Mr. Coffee gurgled, hissed, and let flow the sacrosanct morning brew. Reaching the six cup mark, he burbled and popped. Texas Tea flowed into the pot and clear water flowed down its side.
“No, no, no,” I said, grabbing the paper towel. “Richard turn it off before it spills onto the floor.”
“This is not good,” Richard said, unplugging the defunct coffee maker.
“I think it’s released its soul after ten years of industrial service,” I said, running my fingers through my short brown hair, “your mom will be glad to know it lasted so long.”
“Why’s that?” Richard asked. His “Fannie, you’ve lost your mind” look flitted across his face.
“Because she and your dad gave it to us for a wedding present,” I said, laughing.
“I didn’t remember,” Richard said, shrugging his shoulders under his favorite loose gray sweatshirt.
Poking him in the side, I said, “That’s cause it’s not a shop vac.” The sacred cow of my husband’s family.
I cleaned the counter while Richard poured the salvaged coffee into liquid measuring cups.
“Well, if we use smaller coffee cups and add a little milk it’ll seem like more,” he said, eyeballing the measuring cups.
“Richard, can we last until Wednesday without our morning brew?” I asked, my green eyes hidden behind swollen slits over puffy cheeks. Richard’s eyelids sagged a little, his bright blue eye’s a steel gray.
After breakfast we climbed into the Love Wagon, a red Ford F150 with disco ball and queen futon in the back. We ventured out, fishtailing our way to the local big box store.
Eyes still somewhat swollen—let’s face it, it’s morning—we bee lined for the small appliance section. Two full shelves of sparkling coffee makers adorned the wall under dazzling display lights. Information Society’s What’s on Your Mind, spilled from the overhead speakers.
Coffee, Coffee, Coffee. Pure Energy.
I read the back of the current Mr. Coffee box.
Richard sucked in a sharp breath.
At the far end of the shelves sat several french presses. The shelf above my head, at Richard’s eye level, played host to the Bodum Kenya.
“Fannie, can we have one of these?” Richard asked, holding up the display model. “Have you ever tried coffee in a french press?”
I shook my head.
“It’s the difference between hand holding,” he said, pointing to the box in my hand, “and loosing your virginity—in the right hands.” His devilish grin spread across his face. He stroked the side of the carafe.
We left the store with the french press.
The coffee’s sensual aroma filled the house each morning with its siren’s call.
* * *
Sunday morning after breakfast, I washed the coffee carafe. The glass carafe slipped from my fingers. It traveled faster than the speed of a shocked mind—no, no, no—onto the dish rack and shattered.
* * *
“Richard, I don’t get it. Why sell a press and not stock the replacement carafes?” I asked, looking at a shelf bare of any replacement parts for the Kenya.
“Well, there seems to be plenty of the others here on the shelf with replacement parts,” Richard said. “Whoa—look at this tea pot.” His voice rose with the enthusiasm of a eight-year-old boy in front of the cotton candy stand at the state fair, “Can we buy it?”
Richard held up a glass and metal cordless tea kettle. The Cheshire Cat commandeered his lips. His teeth sparkled like a game show host.
We drove home proud owners of both kettle and carafe.
* * *
A rare Pacific Northwest January sun break filtered through our dining room window. Dust danced in the sunbeams headed straight for the maple dining room table.
Clarissa Taylor and Bunny Gutierrez entered our house for our Saturday morning coffee klatch.
“Honey, I can’t wait to try out this new carafe of yours,” Bunny said, with her refined Texas accent. Her long blond hair, swept back into a pony tail behind her head, crowning her statuesque figure. “Every time I run into Richard on the street, he just raves about it,” she said, adjusting her signature royal blue sweater set.
“Well, I purchased some Tully’s Breakfast Blend for us to try,” I said, holding up the bag. The sleeve of my black and white rugby shirt catching on the bottom of the bag.
“Oh, you know Dr. McDreamy tried to purchased Tully’s don’t you,” Clarissa said, lighting up. Her red curls framing her round face. “He’s so adorable.” She twisted the bottom button on her ivory-colored cable knit cardigan.
I elbowed my childhood best friend in the ribs. “I wonder what Devin would think of that?
“Like he doesn’t have his own Hollywood crushes,” Clarissa said, twisting one of her red curls.
The tea kettle boiled as I scooped coffee into the carafe.
“Honey, now that’s some tea pot,” Bunny said, taking the pot off the stand. “I’ve never seen one quite like it.”
“It’s a lot of fun watching the water boil,” I said, laughing. My inner Tom Sawyer delivered a high five.
Pouring the boiling water into the new carafe, I stirred the grounds and placed the lid on the press. Turning my back long enough to put the spoon into the dish washer, the press escaped the stem and sank sideways into the carafe, the handle followed in pursuit.
“Fannie honey, is it supposed to do that?” Bunny asked. The handle hit bottom.
Clarissa, tucking a red curl behind her left ear, said, “They just screw on, it’s easy to fix. Watch.” She pulled the plunger up. The threaded lower portion of the rod stayed at the bottom of the carafe with the plunger. The black ball knob detached itself from the metal rod.
I threw my hands out toward the carafe. “No, no, no.”
The rod hit the glass with a clank. In the back of my mind it sounded more final, like a ball-peen hammer hitting an anvil.
My chin crashed on my chest and my shoulders fell about a story, I said, “It looks like we’ll be having tea today, ladies.”
* * *
Later that morning, Richard purchased a high-end french press from Starbucks. Here’s to hoping for something Fannie-proof.
I washed the carafe. The cordless glass tea kettle brought the water to a boil. Richard scooped the coffee into the carafe. He smiled. Extending me the honor of pouring the water.
I poured the water and the top third of the glass tea kettle onto the carafe.
The coffee grounds danced among the glass shards in the unbroken carafe. The lid of the tea kettle bounced off the carafe, hit the yellow linoleum counter, rolled, and landed on the yellow and white tiled floor with a coffee splash chaser.
Carafe 1, tea kettle 0. Fannie 0 for 3.
Farewell, Mr. Coffee. I miss you.
Going old school, we pressed our traditional all metal tea kettle into service after its brief stint in the cupboard.
Three days later we received a sympathy card from Sabina, Richard’s mom.