Don’t Drink, Don’t Smoke, What do you Do?* 3

I feel left out of a significant part of American culture because I don’t drink coffee or wine.
There are all sorts of rituals, practices, insider secrets and buzz words around these habits.  There are special places people gather to imbibe these liquids together.  Some neighborhoods abound with coffee shops and bars not so much competing for customers but being complimentary to one another.  Get tired of one spot, there’s another close by to visit.

I’ve never had a latte or iced coffee (tried one  once – yuck).  Never went on a coffee run – a daily outing in most offices I’ve worked.  Like a moth to a flame, mention you’re going out for coffee and your office companions will come running with their orders. 

Margaritas, pina coladas, daiquiris, merlot, chardonnay, mojito-mosquito – just not my thing.

My original dislike of coffee began with the fact that my Mom basically didn’t function until she had her morning coffee and cigarette. (I don’t smoke, either. Gave that up after one try.  I tried to impress a guy at a party the night after my high school graduation.  Took a puff, didn’t stop coughing for 10 minutes and that was the end of smoking for me.)  This dislike was cemented when I burned my arm on the electric percolator while pouring a cup of coffee.  I used to walk as slow as turtle with my Mom’s coffee cup , so afraid was I of spilling the precious liquid on the floor or on myself.  The cup rattled in the saucer, that’s how nervous I was.  (Did I ever mention I was a tad clumsy as a child?)

I’ll never have anything I have to have in the morning before I can be civil,” I vowed to myself.
It’s true that I drink orange juice nearly every morning, but it doesn’t pack enough of a punch to influence my morning behavior.

I do drink tea – regularly though not daily – and while there are places to drink tea communally (though far less than those devoted to the cult of coffee) I’ve never felt compelled to drink tea in a setting other than home.  I also don’t have a lap-top, yet, and so the allure of sitting in a coffee house sipping coffee while working or checking email doesn’t attract me.

Except, except, except – I do have a morning ritual of my own.  I love drinking a cold glass of  OJ or water with a twist of lemon or tea on my tiny back deck/porch/thingee and watching the leaves and branches of trees dance in the breeze.  In this quiet space, I thank God, nature, the universe for my blessings – one of which is to be able to see those trees.  I also give thanks that I can hear.  I love hearing the birds chirping and watching the neighborhood cats in all their feline suppleness stalking across the driveway to their preferrd spots on the lawn, on the stone that covers the well, and on the side porch of the cottage out back.  And I give thanks that I can feel –  the sun on my skin and the breeze blowing across my face.  I so enjoy reading the paper in this small, private space.

Early morning is such a lovely quiet time even in this city neighborhood.  I water my few flowers (there will be more soon I vow) and sit down on a beautiful tiled metal chair that’s part of an outdoor bistro set I found at my favorite discount store for a song (and the gift certificates I’d been given for my birthday that year).

There’s a new café on Dot Ave. (Dot2Dot Café) and a coffee house on Neponset.  Both are lovely places meant for lingering over coffee or tea or the computer.  Orange juice is not a lingering drink.  Nor is ice tea.  One doesn’t gather over tea at Ashmont Grill or The Blarney Stone.  I mean the first question the waiters ask is, “What can I get you to drink?”  And they are none too enthusiastic when you reply, “water with lemon.”  (Probably thinking – cheapskate, low-profit margin diner, here.)

*Don’t drink don’t smoke – what do you do?
Don’t drink don’t smoke – what do you do?
Subtle innuendos follow
There must be something inside-out.”

These lyrics from Goody Two Shoes that Adam Ant sang (and co-wrote) could be one of my anthems, except I would say, it must be something outside-in. 

I wanna fit in, I really do.  I’m tired of walking past all the coffee houses and looking with longing at the camaraderie inside.  There must be something fabulous going on to justify the long lines outside of Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, especially in the mornings.  There’s gold in them thar stores and bars but not, alas, for me.  I just don’t like the taste of coffee or wine.  I feel I must make an effort to be more social – I mean I can’t really enjoy being alone that much, can I?  It isn’t healthy, is it?  I welcome suggestions, maybe a ten-step program to get me into the ranks of the coffee and wine crowd.


About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Drink, Don’t Smoke, What do you Do?*

  • dizzymum

    When you see those long lines, just congratulate yourself. One, you’re not addicted to caffeine or wine, and two, think of all the money you have saved over the years! As for catching up, it’s fine to just order tea, water, or whatever when you’re catching up with friends. Anyone who thinks otherwise, probably isn’t worth it!

  • Marelisa

    Well, I’m not much of a wine drinker myself (or any type of alcoholic beverage, for that matter), but coffee for me is one of life’s pleasures. You know what you like and what you don’t like, and people need to respect that. Do you know how expensive those lattes are at Starbucks? Calculate how much money you would spend each day if you were a coffee-holic, set the money aside, and buy yourself something nice :-)

  • Anonymous

    Your morning ritual sounds about perfect to me. I thought I could never give up my morning cup of coffee but after a fortnight drinking the British instant stuff I converted to tea. Now 30 years later I’m back in the US and have to go to upmarket stores to buy at enormous expense the midmarket (builders’) tea I still have to have every morning. I guess I am just an addictive personality. Sounds like you are not.

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