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Brewer Burns

Friday, March 17, 2006


At 11:25 I look at the time. The white numbers against the cobalt blue background stare back at me. Only five minutes until I leave for lunch. Too close to pour myself another cup of coffee.
At 11:28 I look at the time again. Too close to pour myself another cup of coffee. I get up and go into the break room. The clear plastic container full of celery sticks, broccoli and cauliflower tempts me. Its open lid invites me to take a broccoli spear, to nibble on a piece of celery. But I resist.

At 11:29 I give in. I pour myself a cup full of coffee. Hot and dark brown, its slightly burnt aroma reminds me of cut orange peels. I breath deeply of its acrid smell while I pour sugar liberally into it at a spot equidistant from the sides of the cup. The fountain of sugar surges forth from the silver metal spout of the glass sugar shaker. The stream is the same size and shape as a child’s pinky and I hold it there for a predetermined amount of time. Almost as if I’m counting off the seconds silently... one one thousand... two one thousand... three one thousand and then done.

After placing the sugar shaker in its place I open the bin of powdered creamer. Its plastic lid pops off with a satisfying "plop" and the contents are revealed. Creamer is a misnomer for what confronts me. The powdery, slightly orange, vanilla flavored concoction which fills the metal container halfway up the sides and occasionally binds together into clumps is about as far removed biologically and chemically from real cream as any product could be. But its far better than that which comes in the paper packets.

I use the creamer uninhibitedly. After fishing out the plastic spoon used for scooping, I place three rounded spoonfuls in my cup. Wary of lumps I do not stir the powder in immediately but let it slowly spread out on the surface of the coffee, and then dissolve into its depths. The creamer that contacts the hot liquid first is the first to sink into oblivion, and slowly the rest follows. When the powder is no more than a whitish foam riding on the surface like an oil slick I retrieve a metal spoon from the drawer below and stir.

In an instant the entire character of the cup changes. The coffee is now uniformly the color of light colored suede, a clear cut mountain in the distance beyond my office window or a walnut shell. I take a sip. It’s perfect.

I look at the time again and realize it is 11:30. Time to go.


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