Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Brown Elixer

Since I've completely given up on the San Francisco Chronicle, which has pared itself down like a late-season Biggest Loser contestant to an x-ray of its former self, on weekends I usually pick up the Sunday New York Times.

My favorite part is stopping by the Starbuck's in the upscale shopping center near my house. I make my way through the WiFi hoboes and screaming, over-entitled urban urchins to the counter, where I slap the thick bale of newsprint onto the counter. "Is that all?" the barrista will ask, after inquiring unconvincingly about my health and happiness level.

"Yes," I respond loudly. "I don't drink coffee." The response from the assembled caffein addicts is similar to when a living human stumbles into the zombie barn on The Walking Dead.

A study last week reported that the average American adult spends $1,096 a year on coffee, but I'm willing to believe that even in these troubled times it's much more than that. At just three visits to Starbuck's or Peet's a day at $4.00 a shot, that's $4,380.  Is it not strange and noteworthy that at 11 p.m. in any city or town you'll find people carting around 16-ounce cartons of coffee? People talk about how meth has ruined small town America but what about its watery brown cousin, the antsy hopped-up one that stains its users' teeth, fouls their breath and drains their already limited disposable income?

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