He drank coffee, black. Breakfast, lunch, dinner – whenever we went out to eat, it was his beverage order.
I never once heard him complain about the coffee, any coffee, anywhere he got it. Back then my father drank every cup of coffee with the same level of expectation, much like he seemed to approach everything else – just happy to get it. For most of that time I was completely unaware that coffee could be good or bad. It always smelled good to me, one of the few smells I could identify, like peanut butter or Lucky Strikes. But now – now I know crappy coffee when I swallow it, and I know there is a lot of it out there.
We didn’t have a coffee maker. We did have a percolator, but only used it on special occasions, or for company. My mother drank hot tea. We all drank tea, like the Canadians who drank tea like the English, with milk and sugar. We had a kettle on the stove and a teapot nearby. We drank Red Rose tea – a Canadian tea that Granny would bring with her on visits, or my mother would stockpile when we were in the country to visit her family.
My father drank instant coffee. I realized later that it was nasty tasting stuff, especially in comparison to brewed coffee. Even the best instant coffee tastes like feet.
He worked on construction and had a bad fall, resulting in, among other things, the loss of his taste and smell. In the years to follow, when Kathy or I would ask my father if he liked what he was eating or drinking, my mother would point out that he couldn’t really taste anything, so why did we even bother to ask?
Maybe we were just being polite.
I was born in Oswego, NY,
"I had always wanted to be a writer, but was impeded by the belief that to be a writer one had to be extraordinary, and I knew I wasn't. By the time I was ready to give up my academic career I had realized that while books are extraordinary, writers themselves are no more or less special than anyone else." The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield