Opinion

Staying perky with coffee thoughts

My father drank his coffee with two teaspoons of sugar, my mother hers with cream only. I avoided choosing one or the other by drinking mine black. Years later, I read that the caffeine in coffee takes calcium from bones, so when calcium leaves the body, it takes calcium from one’s bones along with it, thereby contributing to osteoporosis. 

At that point, I quit coffee. Caffeine was making me so hyper I felt like “crawling up the wall,” anyway, and decaf was little better. All the caffeine is never removed, so the small amount left still affects some people. I knew a doctor in France, a friend of my friend there, who had gone through a bout with serious depression, after which he could not tolerate caffeine. He said, “I can’t even sniff it without it making me feel nervous.”

I suppose that, for me, another logical route might have been to get more calcium from milk and/or calcium-rich foods, so that I could afford to lose some.

It seemed unfair to me when my neighbors, the older couple next door, still drank their black coffee each night after dinner. When age came up in conversation, I told them that my mother was older than they, since she had just turned 80. The woman said coyly, “Don’t be so sure.” Her husband chimed in with, “You don’t know…” She said, “I’m 84 and he’s 82. We just can’t believe we’re that old.” They had cooled it all those years, never mentioning age to anyone because they thought a man was expected to be older than the woman he married.

People have perpetuated that idea. Celebrities are more likely to ignore the idea than others. There have been many such combinations, of course, but one that comes to mind is Elizabeth Taylor. She would not sleep with a man unless she married him first, and she had seven husbands, eight marriages, having married Richard Burton twice. They fought terribly when together, but could not tolerate being apart. There came a time when he was living in Paris and had bad backaches. When she offered to come and help him, he debated the choice and rejected her offer. (At the time I was living in Paris and reading a newspaper published there in English; the article about Liz and Richard still remains vivid for me today.) Age difference varied between her and her mates, and her last was considerably younger than she was. They were said to have met in detox, where they were both recovering from alcoholism.

I wonder if they both drank coffee to help the detox? If so, with cream or sugar or both?

Byrna Porter Weir was born and grew up in Houlton, where her parents, Ina and Porter, were portrait photographers. She now lives in Rochester, N.Y.  

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