Thursday, September 8, 2016

Coffee and Cacao

Is there a detox program for Ghiradelli 60% cacao chocolate chips? I'm not saying I need one - I can quit anytime I like! But just in case I get to eating...oh, let's say a hundred or so a day, I'd like to know there's someone out there willing to lift up my chin, wipe the chocolate from my face and tell me everything's going to be alright.

This is the bad news; I now eat somewhere between thirty and forty chocolate chips on any given day. And not just plain. I like to add them to little things. Oooh, banana bread, I can melt chocolate on it, I'll think, or Yum, pumpkin muffins! Now let me stick a few chocolate chips in that. I've had that thought about a bowl of oatmeal, too, but trust me, friend - you don't want to try it. It is nothing at all like chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

I used to make stuff with my chocolate chips: muffins, brownies, cakes and such. But, hey, if you're going to sin with chocolate, why not make it pure, as in pure chocolate, dark preferred?

I've got to stop, though. You know you have a bad habit when five minutes after you get up, you're looking for your fix. I do have a reason why I started down this dark (chocolate) path. I'm exhausted - utterly, completely wigged-out tired from getting up with a baby night after night, month after month. Hey, it's my job, but it's also a hard row to hoe, so I go stumbling into my kitchen every morning, find my special case of chocolate and shove some in my mouth while my vision's still fuzzy.

Recently, though, I had had too many bad nights in a row; my handful of chocolate was not going to suffice. I needed something...what about a fully caffeinated Pumpkin Spice Latte, maybe? Yes, indeedy!

"I'm thinking about going to Starbucks," I said to my son Berto, my only talking companion in the grey light of that early, early morning.

"Cool, I'll go with you," he said. "I feel like going someplace at this time of day."

By that I suppose he meant before the crack of dawn. He was already fully dressed, however. Me? I like to wallow in my sleep-deprived misery awhile before I cave in and try to dress the mummy. Besides, I knew of a drive-thru. No need to wait to look decent. I could get my coffee right away.

Normally I wouldn't attempt such a thing - going out in public with not even lipstick or one small scrap of jewelry, but I was just desperate enough to do it that morning. I didn't even brush my teeth; I just dragged a comb through my hair, woke up Matthew to tell him I was gone and that his girls were still asleep, and headed out in my pajamas with my two boys.

So we drove, listening to the classic rock station. Daniel was placid; Bertie was calm and happy to be out with Mom; and I was looking forward to that fall-flavored Latte. I pulled into the middle lane to enter the shopping center with the drive-thru Starbucks. Hmmm...looked like something was roped off. I really hoped it wasn't what I thought it was.

It was. Some construction workers were working on the drive-thru lane. I would have turned around and gone home if my normal self-respect was present, but I'd lost it somewhere in the thick fog of lost sleep. I didn't even hesitate.

"Guess we're going to have to go in," I said. I jumped out in my baggy flannel men's pajama pants and my faded blue cami shirt. Flip-flops adorned my feet, but they weren't the cute kind. Matthew had brought them home as a gag gift for me from some work convention, and they were white, had some company's business logo on them and were pretty well hideous.

"Look," he'd said after he had presented them to me with a laugh. "I didn't even get the large side, and they still fit you."

They fit alright, and they were about to make their first public appearance in a Starbucks. Out of the car next to ours, a metrosexual male exited and glanced over with pure disdain at the pajama lady removing her infant from the dusty and cluttered white minivan. I slung my plain canvas diaper bag over my shoulder, and my entourage made an entrance.

We awkwardly approached the counter, passing high-heeled business women and slacks-wearing gents. The young man behind the counter eyed me warily, but just then I caught the eye of the lady preparing the coffees. After surveying me and my early morning company, she gave me a broad smile. I smiled back, and in that communicated my appreciation for the fact that I knew that she knew how it was for me that morning.

The young man took our order and warmed up once Berto shyly paid him for my latte, his papa's plain coffee, and his own carbonated clementine juice. He didn't even roll his eyes when I had to dig through the abyss of my diaper bag for the money while another woman was dragging cash from a sleek purse. For not acting like a snob and actually being gracious, I gave cash to Berto and nudged him toward the tip jar.

Because he could have been a total jerk about it. I remember one time when a relative saw me for the first time in my normal pajama attire. He opened his eyes wide at the spectacle before exclaiming, "Hillary, for a person who cares so much about her appearance, you sure do dress like a slob for bed!"

Okay, yes, I know. Whatever.

Anyway, that coffee did me a lot of good. I normally would have gotten a conservative tall, skim, decaffeinated beverage. (But always with the whip - never leave off the whip; it's bad form!) This time I was happily guzzling a fully caffeinated, grande, whipped cream slathered coffee. It did me a lot of good, too. I talked really fast for the rest of the day, did tons of yard work and speed-walked through stores looking for Halloween costumes for the kids.

With as much caffeine as it had, and with me being a nursing mama and all, I'm lucky my baby Daniel didn't start walking, talking and training for his first marathon that day. But he didn't. He forgave me for the extra jolt and didn't even wig out later when I had pumpkin bread with melted chocolate for breakfast.

This post was originally published October 20th, 2010.

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