His cup runneth over with coffee

KEVIN COWHERD

February 26, 1992|By Kevin Cowherd

An experiment was conducted recently to determine the effects of numerous cups of coffee on human physiology.

The test took place in the bright and well-ventilated offices of a newspaper. Regular automatic-drip coffee was used. The brand name is not mentioned here because of possible pending litigation. The names of two ancillary participants have been disguised due to the likelihood of assault charges being filed with the District Attorney's office.

What follows is a journal of events as recorded by this reporter:

First cup (7:30 a.m.) -- Do my Night-of-the-Living-Dead shuffle over to the coffee pot. My mind is a blissful haze. Larry, the guy who makes the coffee, snarls a greeting. The coffee is rich in sediment, as if scraped from the bottom of a pond.

"Mmmm, good coffee," I say to Larry.

"I hate you," Larry says.

It's morning in America.

Second cup (8:00) -- I gaze through half-shut eyes at the warning on the pink package of my sugar substitute: "Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin which has been determined to cause cancer is laboratory animals."

Terrific. White mice are keeling over on treadmills after ingesting just a few grains of this stuff. Rats are convulsing in the most horrible death throes. And I go through 10 packs a day. If I were awake, this might be cause for concern.

Third cup (8:40) -- Beginning to feel that familiar jolt to central nervous system. Brain slowly starting to kick over, like a lawn mower that has languished in the tool shed over the winter. Might even be able to write a simple declarative sentence.

Fourth cup (9:15) -- Oh, yes, yes! Feeling a sudden burst of energy now. I empty all the wastebaskets.

Fifth cup (10:15) -- Caffeine has kicked in big-time. Arrive early for meeting in editor's office. To kill some time, I wash all her windows. Then I straighten her desk and reorganize her files. Then it's on to a little light vacuuming.

The meeting itself goes well. Not exactly sure what is said, though; I spend most of the time trying to catch this fly buzzing around my head.

Editor appears concerned by my behavior, repeatedly insisting that she doesn't see any fly in the room. Finally she barks at me to "stop this nonsense." But I know it's there.

Sixth cup (11:45) -- Just had an interesting conversation about the primaries with X on the way to lunch. I disagreed with him on several points. Unfortunately, I also pushed him down a flight of stairs. But he asked for it with that crack about the Electoral College. So did Y, an elderly woman who tried to intervene on his behalf. OK, I was a little jittery. But she should just butt out of matters that don't concern her.

Wasn't that hungry at the restaurant for some reason -- just sipped water and knocked back a few breath mints.

Oh, and another cup of coffee. You don't want to feel sluggish after a meal.

Seventh cup (12:50 p.m.) -- Can't stop talking. The words are coming in machine-gun bursts, like one of those "Morning Zoo" radio DJs. Blood pressure must be soaring. On my way back to office, I stop and wash a few cars in the employee parking lot.

Eighth cup (1:44) -- This sentence appears on the screen of my word processor: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. I've written it 50 times. Can't think. Mind racing now, like a car accelerator jammed to the floorboard. Someone just tapped me on the shoulder and I jumped over a filing cabinet.

Ninth cup (2:30) -- Just lit a Winston and I don't even smoke. Smoking isn't allowed in the newsroom, either. But, hey, what are they gonna do about it? I've got two words if they send Security up here: hostage situation.

Don't play any games with me, pal. My nerves are shot as it is.

Tenth cup (3:35 ) -- Sweating profusely now. Just dropped to the floor and knocked off 20 push-ups, apparently startling the woman at the next desk.

"WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?!" I scream at her.

She flees in terror to the rest room. People are staring in my direction now. Maybe it's 'cause I'm doing laps around the newsroom.

Boy, my head is pounding. Feeling slightly nauseous, too. But you know what? It's a good kind of nauseous.

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