Last week on a work day filled with unsanctioned breaks and work avoidance, Jessica and I stopped to kibbitz with everyone's favourite bagel lady and get a cup of coffee. From there, we headed for the parkette outside the building to take our places on a bench warmed by spring sunlight.
We chatted a bit and I took a sip of my coffee. That's not right I thought, it must be the gum in my mouth. I went ahead and took a bigger sip and thought that weird taste can't just be from my gum. I asked Jessica to try hers and she did a brilliant spit take followed by a rapid fire: That's awful, there's something wrong with this coffee! Tastes like there's something in it that shouldn't be.
Seconds later, my tongue was tingling and my lips felt numb. This was more than just the heady thrill of being outside for the first time in months without a jacket, this was from coffee most foul. We headed back inside and approached the scene of the crime with caution.
After treading through our explanation, the Bagel Lady asked So, maybe coffee is too weak? No, it's not weak, there's a chemical taste to it, I said. No use any chemical, only clean machine Fridays with safe "cleaning" that company give me (she owns a franchise).
Maybe coffee too strong? she continued. Quickly becoming exasperated, I said No, it's not too strong, it's not too weak, but it's definitely not just right, there's something wrong with it! She scowled and said Here, let me see - which one Jessica and not yours? She took a swig from her cup and looking more sour than usual found her breakthrough moment. Yes, it bad, she declared.
You'd better throw out the rest of that pot before someone else drinks it, Jessica said. Skipping over this point she went straight to You want free coffee? Here, I give. She was about to pour a new cup out of the same pot. You can't serve the rest of that coffee!, we chastised, there's something wrong with it!. She acquiesced and disposed of the rancid brew. She then told us to wait while she made a fresh pot.
We compared symptoms and wondered what our livers were about to start trying to process until the new brew was ready. We hesitantly poured and went for the milk. It was empty. You're out of milk I said. Here, new one. As soon as it hit the hot coffee, the milk curdled. I can't take any more of this, let's just go, Jessica said. We told her we'd decided to pass on the idea of coffee today and she countered with Come back tomorrow, I give you free one!
Within a half hour, my head was pounding. I'm getting a headache now I called over the partition separating my deluxe cubicle from Jessica's. So am I. We shared some Advil and started drinking lots of water.
When I got home that evening, I brushed my teeth and tongue several times but the funny taste/feeling lasted right through to the next day. Jessica had enjoyed her evening even more after spending part of it throwing up.
We went back to our would be executioner and told her about it. She at first tried to say that we were just thinking about it too much and that's why we felt funny, you imagine it. When she saw that we were about to reach over the counter and brain her, she said she'd isolated the rest of the bags of coffee from that batch and opened a new case. She also called the company to test the coffee. Free one? she asked. We declined.
She refused to agree that there was any sort of chemical involved although my thoughts went to her long ago claims to having put bleach and CLR in my coffee. My guess is that maybe she did clean the pot out with something and forgot to rinse it.
I haven't been back since. I've walked by a few times and tried to avoid her icy stare. My response has been to just smile back while shielding her competitor's coffee cup from view. I know that sooner more likely than later, my body will betray me and demand bacon on one of her damned cheese bagels and I'll be back, but for now, I'm just biding my
PS: While I have broken up with her, I haven't forgotten you my lovely readers and commenters. I've just been very busy. As soon as I have time, I'll break up with you properly.