“I’ve always had quite a major problem with Insomnia,” Bubbele told Querida Mia. “Even at my very best,” he went on, “I’ve been prone toward waking up several times nightly, then going back to sleep. Often I can remember my dreams, which tend to be quite offbeat.”
Querida Mia, dumbfounded, gave him quite a smirk, as they sat casually in their Basement. “I find it rather difficult to believe,” she complained, “that your supposed problem is all that impossible to handle.”
“Oh really?” he complained. “Is that so? Well, in that case, perchance you’d like me to explain to you just exactly what kinds of insights I’ve come up with lately by my having meditated for three hours at a time, in the middle of the night, on the fact that ‘Meringue” rhymes with ‘harangue.'”
I am coffee, a most unrelentingly potent and seductive elixir. I have been one of mankind’s greatest possessions since at least the fourteenth century. Pope Clement VIII, sometime during either the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century, encouraged Catholics to start drinking me. Some people don’t particularly enjoy me but most people find me quite enticing. I can be drunk plain, black and unsweetened, or with milk, sugar, as well as a wide variety of other flavorings. People often enjoy me with alcoholic beverages too. I often have a large amount of caffeine in me so many people tend to have drastic problems when they drink me. My smell is exceptionally intoxicating. I fit in equally well at all kinds of occasions, ranging from the casual to the formal, happy and sad, work and play. I’m sort of an introduction to adulthood for most people. You don’t usually see very many children or teenagers imbibing me. Some countries, such as England, prefer tea, but the people who enjoy me simply can’t get enough of me. They literally start each and every single morning of their lives with me, as if my presence is somehow unavoidably mandatory. Some people can’t handle me well. I’ve been known to give them problems ranging from headaches to insomnia. Often, though, they’re quite willing to make the sacrifice in order to enjoy me. I’m like any drug, or addictive compulsive behavior. If someone neglects to watch his step with me I can take complete control, akin to a Faustian bargain, of his life. In a way you could even say I’m sort of like a liquid Satan. I’m found everywhere. I can’t be avoided. I give all kinds of short-term enjoyment, and promise even more. There’s an inevitable catch though. I can’t be trusted.
Dear coffee, Now that I’ve decided to write you a letter, I should like to tell you quite a few things, many of which may be very difficult for you to accept. Ever since I was in my late teens I’ve always been quite a compulsive coffee addict. I could tell you, Oh somewhat demonically inclined brew, with which I have always been quite inordinately preoccupied, that over the course of all this timeyou have consistently subjected me to as much pain and sorrow, at the very least, as happiness and enjoyment. For the past couple of decades it appears the we’ve come to a bit more of an understanding but for a while there you gave me a bit too much trouble. You gave me nightmarishly bad migraines, and a violently sick stomach if I drank you black. I never even so much as dare to think of drinking you black anymore, and the headaches have stopped, though now they occasionally come from other sources, and I have always lost sleep over you. I enjoy you in a wide variety of flavors and ethnic varieties, as the ladies at the Coffee Nut Cafe on Park Avenue know quite well. Many people only enjoy the plain kind. Steve doesn’t like any flavors. Sam appears to like only the Costa Rican kind. I like all varieties though. If somehow, over the course of one day, I could put all my feelings about coffee into a letter, I should say that you, like many people, can have quite an intoxicating effect on an individual, leading him to push his luck quite inordinately and to accept quite a horrendous amount of punishment in exchange for a nice time. Now that the nasty part of our relationship is over, you’re like an old friend, who always seems to show up at precisely the right times, in order to help me both to enjoy festive occasions and to endure hardship.
If there’s one thing that can compete with cold weather for the distinction of being the thing I most bitterly despise, it’s when I’m forced to stay up late at night. Of course, I arrived, quite a while ago, at the conclusion that I have all sorts of major neurotic problems about control anyway but there’s something about staying up late that tends to drive me especially crazy. Besides that I always, whether I like it or not, and whether I’m obligated or not, end up waking up obscenely early each morning. I always tell people that I haven’t gotten an entire five minutes worth of sleep since the Kennedy-Nixon debates. That may be perhaps a bit of an exaggeration but throughout at least most of my adult lifetime I always have been incapable of sleeping well at night. What make things even much worse are the facts that I have a major problem with impatience and frustration and that I get unusually tired out anyway, combined with my inability to fall asleep. Many people claim to be able to fall asleep either by reading or by watching television. Things like that never do me any good. I just like to lie in bed and wait for sleep to happen. I got to the point, quite a while ago, where I finally decided to settle for as much rest, though not necessarily sleep, as possible. Often people have told me to go to bed later than I’m used to, based on the assumption that a later bedtime will help. Having taken them up on it, I found out the hard way that I wake up with a headache if I stay up too late. For quite a few years, my cousins and I were on a bowling league with St. Jane Frances de Chantal Knights of Columbus council 6526 in Wantagh. Although it was always quite an especially enjoyable experience for me, it drove me crazy whenever the night lingered on until very late. Whenever we ended up staying in the bowling alley’s bar for an even somewhat long time I got frustrated and restless. It was even worse at the end of each season at the annual party. Those nights lasted until at least midnight and always drove me nuts. Cousins Larry, Gary and Joe enjoyed being out all night long but I was the lone voice of dissent among us all. Another example of this problem was when Mary Anne, Steve and I, along with Mark, Laura and some friends of theirs, spent two consecutive days and nights in Manhattan a few months ago. It drove me entirely out of control. Besides the fact that both days were filled with non-stop activity, neither ended until insanely late at night. I simply couldn’t handle the strain. Those were examples of nights that are filled with activity, but I can’t even try to enjoy a late night of peace and quiet. After a while all I really want to do is to go to bed, no matter how especially nice and enjoyable my circumstances are, and to get it over with. I seem to be quite good only during the daytime. In the morning, no matter how much I may dread having specifically to get up out of bed, once I’m up and taking a shower, getting ready to start my day, I can count on having all the spunk and I’m going to have, as well as quite an exceptionally charming personality. I appear to be the veritable personification of the rule about early-to-bed-and-early-to-rise. If I do things any other way I’m simply incapable of functioning.
At least since I’ve been an adult I’ve never been able to sleep the least bit well. I often tell people that I haven’t gotten five minutes of sleep since the presidential debates between Kennedy and Nixon. As far as I’m concerned I qualify as an insomniac. No matter what I do, I always end up lying around wide awake in the middle of the night, and frequently go back to sleep for only very short periods of time. I know that I get some sleep because I often end up perceiving circumstances that couldn’t possibly happen were I awake. Frequently I dream of the long ago past, and my dreams are populated by people who are long deceased, or whom I don’t even remember ever having met. At least once I dreamed that my cousins Vinnie and Noreen, who both live very far away, were in another room as I lay in bed in the very pajamas I was wearing that night. I heard both their voices as literally as if it were real. Over the course of the past few decades I’ve tried all kinds of gimmicks to help me sleep. I usually avoid coffee or anything with caffeine late in the day but that doesn’t help. People have told me that I go to bed too early. When I’ve tried to go to bed late at night I’ve woke up with bad headaches and in a bad mood. I’ve found, over the years, that it’s best for me to go to bed as early as possible, preferably before 9:00 p.m. , and to get up extremely early too. As anyone who’s ever been in my company late at night can tell you, I’m not an interesting character when I’ve stayed up too late. When I worked for the postal service in Bethpage, I often was forced to work overnight, from 8:45 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. One of the most horrible parts of that job was the fact that it was impossible for me to sleep during the day. Having been to high school reunions and several other overnight occasions, I’ve noticed that no matter what my circumstances are at night, I simply can’t possibly sleep for any significant length of time during the day. I can remember once, though, in the late 1980’s when I was working at Citicorp Retail Services in Farmingdale, when I fell asleep for a few hours late in the afternoon. When I woke up to a clock that said it was sometime after 7:00, I couldn’t figure out whether it was a.m. or p.m. I need as much dark, and as much peace and quiet as possible, to sleep well. Noise has always been an unwelcome part of my life. Over the course of the past few years I’ve always lived close enough to airports that I appear constantly to be subjected to the perpetual sound of jets flying by. It literally never seems to end and I’m quite hypersensitive to that. I’ve never been able to sleep in a moving vehicle either so travel presents yet another problem. Unlike many people I can’t watch television , read or listen to music to pass the time in the hope that it will put me to sleep. Those kinds of things only make me groggy and even more frustrated. They increase my risk of getting a headache. By now I’ve learned quite well how to handle all this annoyance. My inability to sleep well has even become quite a part of my image. Instead of bothering to complain I simply deal with it from an early to bed and early to rise standpoint.