Sunday, June 18, 2006

My Drug of Choice

I supposedly don’t consume caffeine except on “special” occasions, those occasions being when I have a migraine headache and I take a dose of Excedrin, which contains aspirin, acetaminophen, and 130 mg of caffeine. The caffeine is the secret weapon.

But lately I’ve been indulging in a certain murky brown liquid known as Vietnamese iced coffee. Boy, does that stuff pack a wallop. It’s just the thing need when I’m on deadline and I need a little artificial motivation when I start to flag.

It used to be that I’d only get an iced coffee every couple of months or so. But lately—I’m not quite sure why—it seems that every time I am in the vicinity of My Canh Vietnamese restaurant, I’m ineluctably drawn in there. And I’m in that vicinity at least a couple of times a week, as My Cahh just happens to be in the same neighborhood as the FedEx and UPS drop boxes, my bank, and the library. My thinking goes something like this, “Hey, I just dropped off a completed assignment in the FedEx box, why not reward myself with a Vietnamese iced coffee?” Or, “Hey, I just deposited a check, why not use a just a teeny-tiny fraction of it to get a Vietnamese iced coffee, since I'm in the neighborhood anyway?” Or, “Hey, I just did all this research at the library, and now I’ve got to go home and churn out some work, why not get myself a Vietnamese iced coffee as an incentive to be extra productive?”

It’s gotten to the point that the lady who owns the restaurant gives me this knowing little smile when she sees me walk through the door. She always waits for me to place my order, but she knows exactly what I’m there for. She never anticipates or comments. She makes me ask for it. She’s the man.

Except once. Once she asked me with that oddly crafty smile of hers, “You like better than Starbuck?”

Of course, "I like better than Starbuck!" Isn’t it obvious? I’m in here all the time, and I’m totally freakin’ addicted to that murky brown concoction of yours!

I’ve tried making it at home. I mean what is it? It’s just really strong coffee and some sweetened condensed milk, poured over ice. But I cannot create a version that even comes close. Of course, that may be because I make my version with decaf coffee. Who am I trying to fool? I’m slowly but surely readdicting myself to caffeine. So what? Is that really such a bad thing?

Maybe not. But maybe for me, it’s not so great. The whole reason I went off of caffeine in the first place is because an acupuncturist suggested that it might be a contributing factor to my migraines. In a way it was nice to be off of caffeine. I no longer absolutely without fail had to have a cup of coffee every morning or suffer the consequences later in the day—a blinding headache far worse than most migraines.

My migraines aren’t as frequent as they used to be, but I’ve been noticing that Excedrin doesn’t knock them out quite as well as it used to, probably because my body is becoming accustomed to caffeine again. Also, the Vietnamese iced coffees don’t quite make me feel like I can conquer the world the way they used to either. Yet more evidence that I’m readdicting myself. Hopefully, I will be able to keep my addiction under control (yeah, that’s what they all say!) and won’t end up like Marcel Proust who eventually pretty much gave up food and subsisted on a steady diet of café au laits.


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