I have this old friend with a problem. He’s one of my oldest friends in the world and we have a complex friendship that goes back many years. I recently spent 10 days visiting the city where he lives, but could not bring myself to visit him or invite him to meet me for lunch or dinner, despite our long-standing friendship. You see, this person has many good qualities, but has this habit I find deeply offensive.
It is a habit I used to engage in, but gave up 30 years ago in order to get my own head straight. And while people in some states are allowed to use this substance for some vaguely defined “medicinal” purposes, it is ILLEGAL in most states. I remain dubious as to the efficacy of anyone using this substance for any so-called “medicinal” or “healing” purposes, because I used to use this substance for fun and recreation.
More to the point, I know this substance to be a very dangerous drug, and I cannot respect anyone who freely engages in such activity. It’s childish; it’s immature; it illustrates disrespect for one’s body and health. So I cannot subject myself to the negativity and bad energy of anyone who does this. Long-standing friendships aside, I simply cannot keep the company of any person who drinks coffee. I admit it – I judge people for this.
I drank coffee as a younger man. It was a bad habit I picked up in college when everybody was doing it. There was a lot of social pressure to go along and conform. One night I was in a dorm and people were drinking coffee – I could smell it down the hall. I wouldn’t have even gone in that room, except that I had to borrow a book from one of my classmates for a research project. When I walked in, the smell of coffee was heavy and everyone was sitting around giggling and talking real loud and fast. They offered me a taste and I reminded them that drinking coffee went against the advice that came with the Human Body’s Owners’ Manual. Everyone in the room laughed at me with great ridicule and I was pressured into trying it. I didn’t like the taste at first but got used to it. And it made me feel good – it made me talkative with a sense of well-being, but I learned from my teachers that this is a bad sign. If it makes you feel good and you like it, it can’t be good for you. That’s common knowledge.
I knew coffee wasn’t good for me, but I kept drinking it. For several years, I did it socially, and even purchased it myself on a few occasions. Finally, I gave it up, at the same time I gave up booze, tobacco and other harsh substances. Coffee was interfering with my clear consciousness, and I could feel how it interfered with my sense of Oneness with the Universe. The longer I went without coffee, the more proficient I became in Yoga; and the more effective I became at counseling people who were fucked up on coffee. So I knew I was on the right path.
When word leaked out I was visiting his town, he started sending me messages and calling me to meet for lunch. In our 4th exchange of messages, he invited to meet me for coffee. That was it – I had to be candid. I made the decision to cut off this long-standing friendship for my own good and his. I figured that by having me drop him as a friend, he’d get the clear message once and for all, that coffee drinking is bad karma for the Universe and one’s own body. Only people who don’t care about their own health or the Universe drink coffee. They might as well be blowing up oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico for all I care.
I am in a fair position to make these judgments about old friends and even strangers on the street because I am drug-free. I only smoke marijuana which is legal, and is widely considered to be socially acceptable. After all, marijuana is sold in restaurants, grocery stores, and retail outlets that specialize in boutique concoctions. It’s even served in assisted-living facilities and hospital cafeterias. But I will not brook the presence of a coffee drinker, because the bad karma and bad energy of these people bring me down. I know that because I’ve been enlightened from many years of being coffee-free. People who drink coffee can’t really think straight, but they nurture the ILLUSION that they are clear-headed. That’s how insidious this drug is.
I did get back to this person and offer him counseling to help him kick his coffee-drinking habit. After all, I’m a generous and charitable person, and I have compassion for my fellow man . . . even those who drink coffee. But only to a point. These people may be worth my professional attention as a substance-abuse counselor, but I would never stoop to being with such people in social situations, no matter how long I’ve known them or what we experienced together in the past. When I left coffee behind, I left behind the people who do it. I made a clean break from that culture and I feel good about it. After all, I am a superior and evolved human specimen because I don’t drink coffee.
Scott Prostermanis a music, film and dance historian in Berkeley. He worked as a disc jockey in Pittsburgh and Memphis, where he grew up and where it all began. He was born in the 50s, grew up in the 60s, thrived in the 70s, barely survived the 80s, and re-grouped in the 90s.