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Here's the situation; you're my medication: 8.26.09

What's the tipping point between pure indulgence and guilty pleasure? I can tell you. It's not a guilty pleasure if your indulgence is carried out within the neat and tidy parameters of social acceptability. Oh, teehee, I ate a pint of Cherry Garcia last night. Did you scrape it down to the waxy shell of the carton hunched over in the back alley hugging dark corners away from the street light's incriminating radius? Possibly. That's too simple though. It's not only the sneaky skulking pleasures that turn out to be the truly guilty ones. Sometimes they posture like good, upstanding little well-deserved spoils in the right light.

Like coffee. Work week morning coffee? It's practically a prerequisite for productivity. The first cup pulls behind it a little red wagon of adrenaline. It's your official assertion over foggy wakefulness. That perfect acceleration of awareness. Coffee in the morning means yes, you can; coffee means you will; coffee means you mean it. All week long, you are Rosie the riveted, welded to her work. You are tremendous and efficient, and you are good for doing what your bill paying worker bee buzzing back of the mind taskmaster tells you is right. You are correctly, appropriately caffeinated. Congrats, you dutiful drone.

But coffee on a work week evening? Caffeine in the five o'clock world? It's a dark diving well glinting at uncertain depths. It's a whirling pool of high-octane limitless potential. It also means you can, and you will, and you mean it. But this way is so much better. This is the way Sinatra croons it to you. It's a thumb in the eye of the big brother day that's been staring you down since 7:30 a.m. It's a reclaiming of your poor droning soul that did it's duty and has been left wanting and sluggish. What's more, sluggish on your time, your thin little ration of time between sleep and another day when you slam your alarm and pull on the monkey suit again.

Because you shouldn't and you know it, and you do it. Anyway. You do it anyway: The guilt. And it is glorious: The pleasure.

Suddenly, you are a drone no more, you are one of those shiftless, disoriented, end of summer bees, wafting dangerously into harm's way, oblivious. You are gleeful and determined, now to your own ends, your very own. Go out or stay in. Finish reading that book, start that project, write that story, dabble in that painting. Call friends in other time zones. Or just draw out the enjoyment of sitting, slobbishly batting at whatever stray dandelion fuzz of thought blows by, for hours, staring at the city scape horizon that lights up jaggedly like a soundboard grid, brightening with the higher frequency of the night.

Your night is now nearly as long as your day. Ha! And it's all all yours, with a price. But big deal. Tomorrow morning, you'll only need a little more coffee. In the real morning. You'll be back on the wagon right from the wagon.

Here you are now, white knuckled and wide-eyed hanging onto the careening hardscrabble wagon as it sideswipes ditches, dodges gullies, barrelling down the dim winding side roads of early morning. And tomorrow? In a few hours, you'll pull yourself up on that sedate polished up stagecoach wagon, all white gloved prim and proper in your caffeine need once more. You're crisp and pressed and ready again. Only under your eyes, dark circles hang down, like little charms, remembrances of your night before. A souvenir and a branding both of guilty pleasure.

Now, this is somewhat ill-timed, given her great experiment, but no doubt that's what got me thinking on this. That, and last night, I succumbed to the bitch goddess of iced coffee in the summer twilight and spent the rest of the night, and some of the early morning, trying to run myself down. Oopsie.

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