Core Samples |

Core Samples

According to the label wrapped around the can and fleshed out in both English and Spanish, the coffee purveyor in question is totally onboard with salvaging the rainforest, sustaining wildlife, and allowing growers to make a buck. Rather strange reading material, admittedly, but in the context of a somewhat blurry New Year’s Day morning, one doesn’t reach for "Finnegan’s Wake."

Not if they’d been out polishing hardwood floors with boot soles and spunk, anyway. Any countermeasure in a storm, as they say — and on mornings after, such as these, deciphering small print on a coffee container, while not possessing the same healing component as actually ingesting the steaming brew itself, does have therapeutic value. I read, therefore I am.

In those spaces where honky-tonk exists as both verb and noun, endorphins avail themselves through improvisational movement and interaction upon the aforementioned hardwood. In that the beats and accents are easily anticipated, fueling the energy field to the point of rapture is a constant. The vibe that goes around comes around. And you make it up as you go.

Now, to ignore the fact that fueling of a quite different sort took place would be to overlook that part of this annual rite of passage that leads to reaching for the coffee can the next morning in the first place. In retrospect, you like to think that properly managing this aspect of the ritual improves with age, that the rewards of moderation have become more apparent. You like to think that.

But back to the morning antidotes and the concocting thereof. This has long been the more creative and sacramental aspect of the observance. As opposed to the night before, this is where subtlety and nuance hit the pavement. This is where poetry is written by incremental combinations of what some have come to term "hair of the dog."

Although the desired effect of such manipulations is, obviously, to contrive an elixir with the power to heal, to make whole, there is no denying that playing chess with a countertop worth of additives has rewards in itself. Not unlike the witches in "Macbeth," you are able to conjure salvation out of misbehavior.

Without a doubt, that’s a lot of responsibility to put on a maltreated brain, but, as Hunter S. Thompson — the patron saint of such shenanigans — used to say, "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

Actually, if the truth be known, this morning-after concoction more often resembles, in both look and taste, a chocolate mousse. Not that it’s frothy, but if you were to stand-up a spoon in it, it would be a spell before it tipped over. As with Vonnegut’s "ice-nine," the molecules involved are densely packed.

There’s the coffee, of course, and the cocoa, and the coffee liqueur, and the Bailey’s, and just a touch of that ever-so-flavorful fruit-of-the-grain they thrice distill over Ireland way. Then comes the whipped cream and a whisper of Drambuie. The caveat here is "do not try this anywhere but home."

This particular after-market snake oil is made to slurp. Sippin’ won’t get you anywhere. Come to think of it, neither will snorting. This is serious work and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Think gulp! Then you can get down to the true business at hand — the Rose Bowl. The football game, not the parade or any of the other attendant nonsense.

Your West-coast boys have been all over the psychological map this year and attempting to figure out which mindset will show up to take on the proud warriors from the Midwest is anybody’s guess. This particular long-time foe sports an awesome running attack, of course, and their defensive line has yet to show itself to be the least bit friendly.

Was it mentioned that they also took the No. 1 team in the country down to the wire and pretty much thrashed everybody else. Historically, these situations most always lead to a day filled with high anxiety. You are able to configure untold ways in which the eggs you put in this basket will become an omelet.

You build another concoction. There is worry in the cup, to be sure. But, somehow, in itself, that doesn’t satisfy. You scoop in generous helpings of fluster and tension and a few tablespoons of distress. You’re getting nauseous and have the shakes — but you’re not quite totally overwrought, which is the disposition you want firmly in place prior to kickoff.

You’re muttering to yourself, so that’s good. And there is a sense of looming dread. The day’s got that going for it. Dawn broke glorious in the Heber Valley and it’s as beautiful a morning as one could imagine. So you react as only a neurotic football fan can. You put on your shades, lower the blinds, and turn off the lights. In darkness there is light.

It’s all coming together. You’re bewitched, bothered and bewildered and your ongoing, worse-case scenario is perfectly polished. Lowered expectations, of course, are a tried and true defense mechanism. And that, coupled with the fact that your team has lost the last two times they played upon this particular field of honor, is somewhat comforting.

In the world of sports, nurturing thoughts of impending failure has a way of soothing the wound before it’s been opened. The function is that of a preemptory bid. Psychologically, you’re playing over a net. In order to minimize collateral damage, you not only expect the worse, you demand it. That way, anything short of total annihilation is a "moral victory."

This is not to say, however, that hiding just below the surface, wearing a slouch hat and overcoat and a pair of those horn-rim glasses with nose-and-mustache, isn’t a hint of optimism in drag. That way, just in case the unthinkable should happen and you should actually win, well, you can always say you kept faith, that you believed.

There was never a doubt. You tried to tell them. How ’bout them Trojans! Ain’t they a bunch. You knew it all along. Yeah, right! Anyone for a cup of "Certified Rainforest Alliance" coffee, straight up? We could even add a bit of good cheer and hope, if you’d like.

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