But really, it’s impossible NOT to drink coffee in Italy. Everyone drinks it, and they drink it in so many ways! That strange drink we call just “coffee” in America Starbucks can become an exquisite Café Americano, Café Macchiato, Café Latte, Cappucino, Espresso, Espresso Ristro, or a Café Au Lait in Italy… it was mind-boggling to me that there could be so many beautiful possibilities!
My brain ached and sweated from my resistance against the drink.
I even initiated pitiful tactics to keep me from thinking about the tempting drink. I drank hot chocolate, I consolidated myself with chewing gum, and I wrote enthusiastic emails home to my parents.
But unfortunately, my personal war of unbelievable mind power was brought to a climatic end when I dragged myself from the train station one evening, cold and drooping, the soft glow of a nearby café glowing like an evil demon that was trying to break my resolve. I realized I needed something warm. Something similar to coffee… actually, something exactly like coffee. I could just order warm milk… with coffee… decaffeinated! Who would ever know?
No, I couldn’t possibly.
….No, I shouldn’t….
…. (brain straining…!!!)
But I was also really tired. Really, really tired, when I thought about it. And my brain was like a fragile sphere of goo after two weeks of unyielding will-power. Just a little caffeine couldn’t possibly do me any harm, could it? I wouldn’t get THAT hyperactive.
“Café Americano por favore.”
One cup didn’t do the trick. I was still tired. In desperation, I realized that the minimal caffeine level I had consumed was not doing me any good. It just made me jittery!
Another cup? Still no good!
Finally, I decided I would drink all the coffee in Italy until I was awake. For all I cared, Italy could be swallowed up in my hyperactive psychotic hurricane, so long as I wasn’t tired anymore.
10 Espresso Ristros later (and also a cup of café macchiato, café au lait, café latte, café cappuccino, and café Americano), my teenage body had morphed into a writhing mass of pure energy encased in a layer of desperation. Even though my brain still felt like I was about to fall asleep, the rest of me was filled with an explosive energy that made me feel like running a marathon. My heart was hammering! Not even a pack of rabid Chihuahuas could come close to me in hyperactiveness!
In the spasms and twitches that ensued after nearly 15 cups of coffee, my memory must have blocked out. I spent the rest of the evening in a hyper-caffeine induced fit, alternately running around like a maniac and crashing into a narcoleptic sleep. I think some way on my run home mia madre must have found me lying horizontal by the street sign. I don’t know. I don’t remember. My brain was twitching too much.
All I remember thinking was that it was too late to go back now. I had tasted coffee and there was no going back from a life of caffeine addiction. Sorry Mom, sorry Guido, I remember thinking, the hurricane’s coming.
…And now I that the caffeine addiction had begun, I was unstoppable. It was Italy’s fault. Italy and their exquisite coffee.
Guido’s Wisdom: “Non bere” [Don’t Drink]