Thursday, August 20, 2009

Breakfast in Bed: An Anniversary Tale

As of yesterday I've been married to Vild for nine years.

By way of surprise, our kids made us breakfast in bed. I knew they were up to something because Lou's elbows were not embedded in my rib cage as they usually are at 7 a.m. on a given day. There was a distinct absence of cereal requests or harassment for cartoons immediately upon opening my gritty, crossed eyes.

Suddenly our bedroom door sucked open, pulling the window shades away from the glass, and there were our kids beaming in the doorway, wobbling a tray between them, approaching the bed with something that looked like two coffee cups and a banana.

Upon closer inspection,there was indeed a banana, but also two cups of wet coffee grounds, some of which had slopped over the side so that it looked very much like a trail of ants crawling up the side of the cup, which it very well could have been, our house being what it is.

Coincidentally, I've had a headache for three days. I mention this because coffee looks real purdy to a girl whose had a headache for three days. But a cup of black, gritty mash like liquid sandpaper looks slightly less good. Clearly steps were missed in the brewing process.

There's a tender balance to be struck between the woman with the bad head and desperate need for coffee and the glowing children with the bright intentions and wretched brewing skills. I wanted to be a good parent but I also very much wanted a coffee do-over.

I once presented my own mother with a ten egg omelet, scorched on the outside, running raw on the inside, its edges extending over the edge of the plate like it had fainted there. She was tender enough as she scraped it into the trash, telling me she loved me for the effort. I was mortified and angry, hurt and confused. It was an omelet, I'd made it for her, and I couldn't see what the problem could possibly be, why wouldn't she just eat it?

I went down to the kitchen with the kids. Lily mentioned, as I neared the scene, that I should prepare myself for some possible spillage that may have occurred. The coffee pot, it was explained to me, had done something wrong.

With as much tenderness and love as I could muster, six minutes after waking, I told her she'd done a beautiful thing, whatever I might find, and that I'd walk her through the coffee making steps to see what error the pot had made.

Turns out the pot had forgotten to put a paper filter in, and the plastic basket had been filled to the top with about forty dollars worth of grounds. After the 'go' button had been pressed, the scorching dribbles of well-water had nowhere to go and had run off the packed mesa of granules, both spurting from the sides under the lid and flowing back into the water reservoir, then down the sides of the machine, across the counter top, drooling down the cabinet front - a river of hot grains running to the center of the kitchen. In the process, Lily had managed to get the cups into the flow, and filled them with some of the molten run-off from the counter top Vesuvius.

I unplugged the coffee machine which hissed gratefully as I carried it over to the sink like a fallen lover. I had to dump the thing in one deft motion, to avoid burns or worse, permanent damage to the hero maker. But deftness, it turned out, was not on the breakfast menu.

The tidal wave of caffeinated slop that sloshed into the sink, did a half-pipe maneuver, washing up the side of the basin in a hot arc that not only dumped a half gallon of liquid over this other counter, but sprayed coffee grounds in a fan across the window screen above the sink, which grabbed like Velcro each individual ground and held each one perfectly, one grain per grid of screen. It was an epic display. Lily watched in disbelief. This, she informed me, was not how coffee was made. She knows how to make coffee, and if I'd just let her do it, she'd show me how. Besides, she said, I was ruining the surprise.

A mop, half a roll of paper towels and two dishtowels later the kitchen was only slightly more tidy than when I entered it. Turns out, wet coffee grounds are stubborn little fuckers. They don't go quietly.

We re-brewed with the insufficient half cup of grounds that remained dry. I talked them through the process, highlighting the benefits of the filter - enlightened "oooohhhhh"s - and we all walked the tray up to Vild who slept peacefully.

He woke on our anniversary to his weak coffee and banana and with real pride Lily told him, "Me and Lou did it all by ourself!"

Happy Anniversary Vildy.


  1. Thanks for the chuckle, Sweetheart, and happy anniversary. Guess it's a special day for all of us. Just watch out for number 18 -- it's a doozy.

  2. All hail, tiny Barristas! We salute you! Juan Valdez salutes you! Anyone can make coffee the other way, all filtered and everything. No fun or blog in that.

    I say, Happy Anniversary! I think you'll enjoy next year's pot au feu - which I happen to know they're working on.


  3. I have a vivid picture of your beaming cherubs, a banana and the whole coffee fiasco. Happy anniversary, dear one!

  4. "I unplugged the coffee machine which hissed gratefully as I carried it over to the sink like a fallen lover."