08 April 2007

Like camping?

One of the first things I found in China was Metro. It's a little imported slice of the outside world, and the only source I've found for affordable coffee. Perhaps affordable isn't the exact word I want, but *$ et al charge a lot more. (115 kwai for 240 grams as opposed to 89 yuan for 1100 grams)

The other day, She Who Makes Life Worth Living called on the cell phone. Metro was out of Maxwell House, would I like her to buy "other brand" for 200?

I told her thanks, but that was too much for what might be an unacceptable substitute (I spent a few days on vacation once in a little town where every restaurant and hotel "proudly served" the same brand of coffee, and I tried a cup at each establishment, thinking the others probably did something wrong that caused the results to taste like sewage filtered through singed elastic, but sadly, the flavor was Paul De Lima's fault, not that of anyone in Corning).

Since very few places in this city sell ground coffee (or whole bean coffee) at all, and no others stock anything familiar, I opted to try some instant. Every convenience store, street corner vendor, and grocer sells a variety of instant coffee.

The flavor isn't quite the same, and I'm a little sad to see the coffee maker that cost a relatively large sum sitting idle, but I can live with it for a while.

Of course, sitting on a couch that I believe used to be the back seat of a car, drinking instant coffee made with water that was boiled in a tin can (the bowls are all in use with food just now), I fell into a flashback of "camping" when I was 13-17 years old. Mostly, I just wanted to be alone with my newly-discovered vices (cigarettes, paint thinner fumes, occasional liquor, and more rarely yet, pot) and a cup of coffee made over a small fire covered the evidence of my enthusiasms (the coffee for breath and the woodsmoke for clothing).

Roll the tape forward to now. I still don't dare get caught with cigarette smoke or alcohol on my breath. I'm still freezing cold, drinking coffee more for the warmth than the flavor or caffeine. I'm still a little pissed off Sunday afternoons, because it means the weekend is mostly over and I have to go back to school for a week, without really accomplishing much or enjoying much of the days off.

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