When Coffee Attacks

The plague hits Chico, a gripe about vinyl, and an unexpected reaction to coffee causes me to question everything I thought I knew about life.

Apparently the plague is going around Chico, or maybe a variety of different plagues. People are coughing, aching, vomiting in the streets, and hacking up little green and yellow hunks of lung tissue; people are sick. I don’t want to bore you with mundane details about my own poor health, but I will tell you this: Thursday I will be stepping into a doctor’s examination room for the first time in at least a half-dozen years.

On a semi-related note I’m also giving up alcohol for the month of February, and coffee for an amount of time yet to be determined. The alcohol abstinence is voluntary; the coffee not so much. About three weeks ago I found myself persistently nauseous. I drink coffee first thing every morning like clockwork, so the thought that the wondrous brown elixir might be the culprit never crossed my mind. But one morning my coffee ritual was delayed, and I was feeling fine. I figured whatever was causing the nausea had passed until I drank a half a cup of life-giving mocha java. Then it hit me—both the queasy stomach, and the horrifying realization that the drink that gives meaning to my life had somehow turned against me. Now I’m drinking tea and seriously questioning whether or not there is any rhyme or reason to the multiverses.

The alcohol lay-off is a planned event. I try to take the month of February off every year, well, at least for the past couple years—though last year’s wagon ride didn’t last long. I do this for physical and mental reasons: to give my liver a break and to prove myself that I can quit anytime I want. I pick February because it is the shortest month of the year. The one year I actually followed through I lost weight, saved a lot of money, and found my thinking clearer and my emotions more stable. Then March came around and I decided to make up for lost time. I don’t know if there is any real benefit from the ritual, but what the hell.

For the Record

I want to say for the record that I love the ARC Thrift Store, but I’ve got a bone to pick with whomever is pricing the vinyl there. You buy a book at ARC and the price is determined not by the content or quality of the book, but simply by it being a hardback or a paperback—but for some reason the powers that be have decided records need to be priced individually. It’s a crock. The records are not sorted, so you go flipping through junk—Juice Newton, Barbara Streisand, and enough Glen Miller to choke a mule—before you get to something you might actually consider listening to, and then you find that instead of the typical fifty cents, they’ve got it priced at eight bucks. To top it off you pull the album out of the sleeve and it looks like somebody held a damned cockfight on the thing. Come on. What they’re charging for some of the albums at ARC is comparable to Melody’s pricing. But at Melody you get albums that are organized, inspected, cleaned, and stand a better than average chance of actually playing through when you get them home. I don’t know why I’m complaining, I guess I should stop wasting my time flipping through rubbish and go to Melody, but there is no feeling like scoring a gem at seventy five cents, and I did pick up a pretty pristine copy of David Lee Roth’s Scyscraper today for a buck fifty.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.