Archive for the ‘workin'’ Category

NTKOG #117: The kind of brash Blanche Devereaux type who, when she catches eyes with a man, starts tossing out compliments like Mardi Gras beads.

I am: the girl who — stepping in front of the register at Dunkin’ — takes one look at the cashier and squeals: “I looooove your earrings!”

I am not: quite so keen on extending the same charm to men. God forbid they think I’m after something other than their brains.

The Scene: Bank of America, depositing a few checks for my office. The teller behind the counter is one of those good-looking guys with an almost feminine face that he tries to mask with designer stubble; judging by his gunmetal silver shirt and Kenneth Cole pocket square, I’d wager he’s one of those guys who falls on the side of uncool only because he’s convinced he’s so extremely cool. One of those people everyone loves at first sight then likes less and less. But even if I’m wrong about the personality, I can tell he’s not my type.

As he glances down at my deposit slips, his eyes flutter for a moment and, oh, he’s got the thickest, longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen outside of a Revlon commercial. If he were a woman, I would have immediately cooed, but because he is a man — and, worse, a man who might think I’m angling to sleep with him — my instinct is to check my tongue. But hey, I’m not that kind of girl, right?

TKOG: My god, you’ve got the most beautiful eyelashes! They’re spectacular!
Definitely Not Wearing Mascara: Women always say that. They’ve been saying that my whole life.
TKOG: That’s because they’re jealous. Hell, I’m jealous.
DNWM: That’s sweet of you.

For the rest of the day, I thought all was right with the world. I complimented a man! He didn’t take it awkwardly or give me a look dripping with letting-you-down-easy! We were able to interact completely platonically on a lady-dude-to-dudely-dude level of discussing physical aesthetics!

Then it all went downhill. Over the next few days, when I came in to make deposits, he escalated our chitchat to the degree that I had to take out both earbuds instead of only one. By Wednesday of the next week, he had complimented my dress. The unpleasant encounters came to a head when I dropped off a deposit after the 3:30 rush on Friday afternoon.

DNWM: So what’re you listening to all the time?
TKOG: Oh, y’know, everything. Gregorian chanting, commercial jingles. Right now I’m listening to Stevie Wonder.
DNWM: That’s cool. I go to lots of concerts around here. I’m going to one this weekend, actually.
TKOG: Sweet.
DNWM: Do you have any plans this weekend?
TKOG: Uh, I’ve got to clean my apartment and reread The Great Gatsby oh my god look at the time I’ve got to go bye.

The Verdict: This is why I don’t compliment men. Not because I’m the type of raving narcissist who imagines any guy would fall for her immediately (HA!), but because Murphy’s Law says that any guy I’m seriously not interested in will be the like one guy in five thousand who falls for my accidental charms. That way when I tell the universe, “Dude, seriously, can you not show me some damn love here?” the universe can be like “remember that guy at the bank? geez, all you ever do is complain” and it will be technically right.

I think I’m just going to stick to complimenting women. They’re lovely creatures who smell good and know that I don’t want to hook up with them. That’s as high-pressure as I can get.


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NTKOG #65: The kind of girl who, when she has been mistreated by someone in a position of authority, instead of just taking it with a smile, gives the jerkwad whatfor instead.

I am: laid-back, would be a nice way of putting it. A doormat, though, might be more accurate.

I am not: good with: confrontation, authority, or recognizing when people have definitely stepped over a line with me.

The Scene: Job interview in Brookline last week, for a secretarial position at a firm that deals in a field completely outside my range of interests. The interview has been set up by a temp agency, though, so I put on my power suit, brush up on my interview questions, and walk in fifteen minutes early with resume in hand and a big ol’ smile on my face.

Half an hour later, the guy who’s supposed to interview me finally moseys into the office and immediately I can tell he is — well, “a sleazy fucking jerkwad” is really too delicate a phrase, I think. He’s in his mid-50s; very GQ; too much cologne.When he takes my hand, there is no pretense of a shake. Instead, he squeezes hard enough to pulp the bones down to marrow, then takes a seat across from me.

“So, you’re from Prestigious West Coast University, eh?” he says, and I smile and nod. “And you’re looking for a secretarial position. Ha!” He looks like a guy who has too often and too wistfully watched Mad Men, wishing for the good old days when he could have conducted this interview while sipping from a tumbler full of Scotch.

While we are talking, he leans back in his leather exec chair and crosses his arms behind his head. One of his legs is crossed, his foot resting against the table. He looks like he’s waiting for a girl to crawl under the table and just start blowing him right there.

Did I mention he’s a huge fucking asshole?

The whole interview, he lets me say approximately twenty words. The rest of the time he goes on about how important he is and what high-level work he does. He mentions, charitably, that “the girls” are necessary to help run the office. He asks whether I feel up to the challenge of cleaning up the office at the end of the day.

The whole time, also, he keeps throwing out acidic little barbs about the university I went to, and the fact that I left there without a job, then smugging that he bets I don’t like it when he makes these little jokes. Uh, no shit? The school I went to was, like, pretty okay, and not infrequently, insecure people like to play a nasty little head game about it: they’ll make constant negative comments about various stereotypes about the school — not least of all the stereotype that grads are arrogant — then when I finally tell them to, dude, seriously, stop it, they smile back: “See what I mean? You guys are so arrogant.” I — I cannot tell you how much this infuriates me. I love the school I went to; I had four wonderful years there, met all my best friends there, and generally have positive feelings about it. And I’d expect everybody to feel the same way about their own undergraduate institutions, so why are we even talking about this?

And yet, he talked about it. For at least ten minutes of the forty-minute interview. After he’d finished his monologue of Important Manly Poweritude, he asked me: “So, you have any questions for me, honey?” Um, yeah, just one. How does the fine Commonwealth of Massachusetts feel about vigilante castration?

Sadly, though, although I prepared a totally appropriate feminist rant — or at least a withering barb — the asshole hurried me out of the interview room before I could find my voice. So. Fail on that front. But. BUT! I did call the temp agency and withdraw myself from the interview process, citing, in only slightly more polite language, irreconcilably assholic behavior as the reason for my request.

The Verdict: I’m pretty bummed out that my knee-jerk authority cowering was too strong for me to overcome right to this jerkwad’s (jerk)face, but I’m going to go ahead and give myself partial points for actually withdrawing from the interview process instead of continuing to jump through his asshole hoops. The more of the (sometimes terrible) real world I see, the more I realize that there are lots of guys like this out there, who feel the constant urge to make it known: “Hey, little lady, fuck your fancy education and your power suit and all your big clever ideas. At the end of the day, this is still a man’s world and, heads up, I take my coffee with two sugars, sugar.”

Aaaaaaargh. Even thinking about this makes me hate men. So even though I wimped out this time, next time I meet a guy who is Part Of The Problem, dude, he best be prepared for an unholy rant.

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NTKOG #58: The kind of girl who gets her non-ironic Plath on and — gulp! — submits some of her poetry to an actual friggin’ literary journal!

I am: afraid enough of failure that sometimes I forget to admit to myself that I want to be a Real Published Author. Hence the drawer full of pretty okay work that I’ve just never submitted anywhere, because I am so seduced by the infinite potential of what might have been.

I am not,: that said, actually a poet. My writing talents fall strictly in the realm of short stories and the occasional retweetable aphorism.

The Scene: My apartment. My goddamned apartment, where I have been holed away for three days like a Proustian aunt awaiting death, drowning (absolutely drowning) in used Kleenex and self-pity for my raging cold. Hence the self-helpier-than-usual post, and my unusual silence the past several days.

Although I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it now, I went through a bit of a poetry tear during my senior year at university. I became obsessed with syllabatonic poetry (Russians are the masters), and decided that writing a series of sonnets would help train me to inflict maximum violence upon language, making my proser denser and more packed with sharp edges.

Oh, well, and I guess it didn’t hurt that I was in the throes of a mad crush for a grad student in my department. He had a corrected harelip and for some reason I found it unbearably sexy. Clearly fertile emotional grounds for the budding young sonnetist.

Anyway, a couple of the poems (despite their embarrassing and old-fashioned insistence on being sonnets) turned out like pretty okay, and so last night I rounded up a few, chose a few journals with decently low acceptance rates on Duotrope, and — gasp! — actually sent them out. No editing. No angsting. Just a short, funny cover letter and, bam, some of my actual, real-life writing spirited away for real literary dudes to read.

I felt relieved. I felt empowered. I felt fucking terrified.

Obviously no word back yet, so the verdict is apt to change. Also, because there is so little meat to this story so far — you guys, it’s a bad idea. It’s a really really bad idea. And it makes me positively vom to even think about doing this. Which I guess means it’s a good ntkog. But I’m going to go ahead and post a poem here. An honest-to-god “wrote it ’cause i meant it” poem about truth and feelings and all that horrible stuff the thought of which makes me anxious and violent-sarcastic.

Oh god please don’t judge me. This intense cold has made me emotionally vulnerable. (And obviously I don’t think the poem is good or else I’d be trying to get it published instead of wordpressing it. And — and caveat caveat caveat until we all die, but seriously, I’m a prose writer, not a poet by any means.)

The Poem (oh guys please don’t hate me):


I hack out slickly viscous thoughts,
distortive phrases where your body
can firm its curves, reslope its drops.
With words I sculpt you as you’re not – we
could never intersect in life:
I’d dog you like a faithful wife,
I’d buff your jags, soon sanitize
your lurk, your dank seraphic guise.
I fear that soon I’d start to see
your blunt-nosed apprehensions seething,
the burden of your constant breathing;
No charm in your asymmetry.
And yet I cherish thoughts that we
might have been gratefully unhappy.

The Verdict: So obviously no word back on the publication status, although you’ll know when I know. Personally, I’m hoping to acquire enough rejection letters this year to wallpaper my apartment. But it did feel amazing to actually send something out. It’s so easy, I think, to get entranced with work you’ve already completed and let it acquire a totemic stature in your drawer. You convince yourself it’s beautiful and perfect and you’ll never write anything half so good again, so why squander your store of genius by sharing it with the world just yet?

Which is why I chose to start out by sending my poems out there. Because I already know they’re terrible at best, and the rejection isn’t going to kill me. Still. I felt good enough about sending work out that I’m going to drag a few stories out of the drawer and submit them to read, actual, prestigious journals. By six months from now, I have decided, I’m going to be published. There is no other option.

Also, sharing an actual poem with you guys is by far the NTKOG-iest thing I’ve done so far for this blog and my stomach is already tied up in knots and I’m probably going to go drink some wine just to calm my DELICATE WRITERLY NERVES so please do not compare me unfavorably to Shel Silverstein or anything in the comments section. (God, I’m usually so oppressively confident. Turns out I found the nerve center for my otherwise hidden insecurities.)

[Edit: haHA! First rejection already! Not even a very nice or grammatical one! Excellent. Must stop by Kinko’s to print it out for the WALL OF REJECTION.]

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NTKOG #51: The kind of affectionate, magnetically vivacious woman who doles out hugs like candy at a parade and punctuates every conversation with casual contact.

I am: an armchair person, not a couch person. As in, I will not even sit two people to a three-person couch with someone I have known for years. And if my leg accidentally grazes yours, rest assured I will apologize until you become semantically satiated with the word “sorry”.

I am not: super comfortable with personal contact. Can you tell?

The Scene: In an effort to grow slightly less neurotic about never touching anyone ever ever ever, I’ve been attempting to — um, touch strangers in what I consider to be inappropriate ways? Okay. That doesn’t sound quite as noble when you say it aloud. Nonetheless, a trio of interactions:

The Acquaintance Hug: A few mornings ago, one of my co-workers entered the office in a fairly deflated mood. She’s usually warm and vibrant, very sweet girl, but whatever combination of events — some confluence of relationship and finances and all the thousand slights the world sometimes likes to heap on you before breakfast — had chipped her veneer.

“Dude,” I said, standing up. “You need a hug?”

I was only a little horrified when she actually folded herself into my awkwardly proffered embrace. Then I stood there, not moving, waiting for her to leave. Apparently she didn’t think it was weird, and I was glad to be emotionally available, I guess, but dude: not. a. hugger.

The Coquette Tap: I see women all the time who, when talking to a man, will flirtatiously tap on his arm to get his attention or signal that he ought to pay attention to the totally brilliant thing she just said. This, to me, is weird. I mean, shouldn’t your voice and face be all the verbal italics you need in conversation? Is the point of the tap just a reminder? Hey! Bodies! We have them! We maybe could use them to hook up as a result of this conversation?

No single story here, but I’ve made a conscious effort to use this technique when talking to random guys I meet — especially on the T, where we’re stuck sitting in close proximity anyway. I tend to reach out for the casual upper-arm tap to underscore the fact that I’m joking when I say mean-funny things, just to lighten my tone. Because, yeah, I’m one of those smart girls who’s kind of a jerk to guys. Regret to inform! Basic results of this: the guys don’t seem to notice it one way or the other, but I always feel profoundly awkward afterwards.

The Fist Bump: Last night, as I was wandering around Cambridge trying to find the School of Government for a professor’s office hours, I got hopelessly lost and decided to ask the next grad student-aged passerby for directions. A guy passed me and I tapped his shoulder. When he spun around, I saw he was cute. Cutecute. I mean, so attractive that he was almost ugly — like a young Robert De Niro with designer stubble and the kind of Mediterranean beachy blue eyes you just want to bathe in.

TKOG: Uh, excuse me, do you know where the Kennedy School of Government is?
Seriously Movie Star-ish Leading Man: I’m sorry, I have completely no idea where that is.
TKOG: We. We have so much in common right now.
SMSLM: Yeah, I’m really feeling that bond.
TKOG: Pound it?

I offered him my fist and he switched his cigarette to the other hand and, y’know, knuckle-bumped, then — weirdly, amazingly — used his cigarette hand to pull me into a, like, slightly bro-ish but non-A-frame hug. I was afraid for a moment that his cigarette would burn my hair. But, guys, I kind of didn’t care. I mean, this guy was too cute to even be talking to me, let alone hugging me on a street corner.

After a second, he pulled away and wished me good luck finding the School of Gov. Which I basically floated to on a cloud of deep personal well-being.

The Verdict: Um, movie-star Harvard guys? You can hug me all you want. Everyone else? Look, I’m sorry, and don’t take it personally, but I’m just going to go ahead and sit on my side of the couch and you can sit … on another couch … in another house … and maybe we can just email each other. Unless you’re on my “people I couldn’t live without” list, there’s just no reason we ever need to touch!

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NTKOG #45: The kind of girl who, lasering forth volumes of feminine mystique and effortless seduction from between her carefully kohled eyelids, is able to win a man’s attention just by flashing him “live eyes.”

I am: wearing glasses, for starters.

I am not: a long, slow seduction. I am animated and utterly brilliant and kind of anxious all the time. Which, I mean, works. But not from across the aisle on a train. (Unless I am changing my clothes and you are a neo-Nazi, apparently.)

The Scene: Before we begin, for your edification, a little clarification on “live eyes”: it’s a concept created by the inimitable Tyra Banks, which she claims is the key to looking alive in a photo. In real-world terms, it’s sort of an open squint that adds some animation to yo’ dang face.

As for application, I present a trifecta:

On the train: Sitting across the aisle from me, a guy in his mid-20s, not really my type (too cute), but wearing unseasonable flipflops and bobbing his head slightly to the music he’s listening to. Just by looking at him, I can hear his cigarette streaked voice, the way it probably grinds and growls into function after he first wakes up.

Wait, what were we talking about?

So I focus my thoughts on him and live-eyes with all the (considerable) intensity I can muster. After only a few seconds, he looks up at me and we maintain eye contact for five or six long seconds. Then he stares back at his iPod. I continue live-eyesing him off and on — falling just short of Senior VP of Stalker Affairs, basically — and he keeps looking back at me. As he gets off the train (darn!), he looks over his shoulder at me for a second or two, then walks out of my life forever.

At the bagel shop: When I go to grab breakfast before work, I notice that my old favorite employee is gone — to my somewhat relief — and has been replaced with a guy about my age. One of those guys with flippy hair who quotes himself a lot on his AIM profile, you know? He seems sort of out of it, but I live-eyes him with searing intensity while ordering.

TKOG: Cinnamon raisin bagel, lite cream cheese, absolutely no drink or coffee.
Flippy Haired Banal Quoter: Sure, and — [he looks up and catches my eye. the rest of our conversation is weirdly unblinking.] and — do you want some coffee with that?
TKOG: Absolutely no drink or coffee.
FHBQ: Oh, yeah. Wait, what kind of light cream cheese? We have normal or scallion.
TKOG: Well, it’s a cinnamon-raisin bagel, so…
FHBQ: Okay, so…
TKOG: Plain. I’m guessing it’s been a long morning?
FHBQ: I don’t get it.

So. On the evidence of this, I’m going to go ahead and assume that the intensity of my live eyes actually turned off his higher brain functioning. Or that he’s a dude who works at a bagel shop. Either/or.

At Work: Oh, guys. Guys. It is no great secret — at least on my personal Twitter account — that I am hopelessly pining for one of the gentlemen who works in my office. He is very clever, early ’30s, absurdly handsome (at least for TKOG’s values of “absurdly handsome,” which run to paunchiness and thinning hairlines), and he does not know I’m alive. Sad day, right?

So I’m sitting at work, and he cuts in front of my reception desk on his way to the supply room. Good morning, he pleasant-office-blathers as he walks by. I swivel my chair to face him directly and beam him with my over-worked live eyes. Good morning, I tell him, radiating smile-with-your-friggin’-soul all over the office.

And guys! He pivoted on his heels and STOPPED IN FRONT OF MY DESK.

“Good morning!” he repeated. “It’s a really great morning, isn’t it? How are you on this great morning?”

YOU GUYS I AM NOT EXAGGERATING! He word-vommed all over me! I spent a moment … uh … rubbing said metaphorical vom into my skin (?!), then — answered him briskly and waited for him to go away so I could resume my quiet sighing and pining. ’cause I mean, dude, he’s a legit adult with a job and I just address labels for him, so, y’know, let’s not go messing up the natural order.

The Verdict: I am absolutely floored by how much live-eyes worked, with the possible exception of on the brain-dead bagel slinger. I mean, clearly it’s not that every man I passed was rendered hopelessly in love with me — not in the slightest — but it did seem to magically elevate what would have been a few very normal exchanges. I think it just goes to show that forcing yourself to be intensely in the present moment instead of passively retreating into your normal routines really does have an effect on people. It seems to make them more observant too, and make it easier to connect with someone, even if for only a moment.

From now on, I’m going to make way more of an effort to, when I look at people, show them that I’m really seeing them. Also: going to make an effort to start packing my own friggin’ breakfast. I mean, sheesh.

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NTKOG #30: The kind of girl who knows how to say “no” — even to a reasonable request. Sometimes it’s the little battles, guys.

I am: a world of yes. TKOG, can you pull an all-nighter rewriting my drecky essay even though you have your own deadlines? Can you wait for four hours in a freezing cold taqueria while I get to second-base with a random guy I met at a bar so you can give me a ride home afterwards? Won’t you please change your plane ticket so you can give me a ride home from the airport?!

I am not: going to confirm or deny whether those are true examples. (Sigh.)

The Scene: Copy room, corporate America, a state of severe emotional fragility.

So a little backstory: as you may or may not have gleaned from these pages, I have a fairly magnetic personality. I mean, literally magnetic. In my presence, credit cards are magically de-authorized, VHS tapes erased, computer hard drives spontaneously refragment, and office copy machines contract bulimia. Maybe you see where this is going.

This week I’ve been working on a project for Clerk (to whose moniker I will refrain, out of love for the company, from adding any of the particularly juicy adjectives that spring to mind). Of course, Clerk’s idea of allowing me to assist on an important project is emailing me documents so that I can send them to the printer behind his desk, pick them up, staple them, and hand them to him where he sits, ten feet away.

Funny thing about temping. When you come into an office as the new girl, all of the full-time employees look on you like a new puppy brought in for their amusement. Except for the old office puppy, who looks on you as a chew toy.

Last night, I printed and collated most of the documents he needed, but on the last document, the copier got caught in a paper jam the likes of which I — a professional secretary! — have never seen. I checked out its guts, forced it to belch up a stack of 17 sheets of paper, but still couldn’t fix it. One of the attorneys walked by and, seeing my dismay, lend her $200/hr brilliant legal mind to the problem. After $50 worth of her attentions, we gave it up and called the repairman.

This morning, attempting the same copies on the same (allegedly repaired) copier, again, after three pages, smoke start emerging. And hello again, Mr. Repairman!

Clerk started emailing me testy little missives. “When is repairman getting here? I require these documents URGENTLY!” Um, then why couldn’t you hit print yourself? I emailed to let him know the repairman had left and he was free to print the files his own dang self.

Apparently, though, my subtlety was lost on him, as he demanded again that I print it. Note to self: when saying ‘no’ to someone, it’s important that you actually say the word no.

Doormat that I am, I tried to print the documents again. The copier gnashed out a banshee wail, then some gutteral grinding, then stopped altogether. After a moment I wiped my eyes and stalked to Clerk’s desk.

TKOG: Look, I can’t print this for you. The copier has broken three times in 24 hours and I just. can’t. deal. with. it. Can you please print the documents yourself?
Choose Your Own Adjective Clerk: I suppose I can. It seems you’re doing something wrong.
TKOG: I — [deep breath] — I’m just hitting print. Maybe it hates me. That’s why you should do it yourself.
CYOAC: Fine. But will you have time to collate them when I’m done?
TKOG: Yes.

Damnit. How is it I can write arpeggios through the whole of the English language, but can’t say that one little word?

The Verdict: Even though this particular experience was a bit mixed, it’s a good reminder that I need serious “no!” practice. It did feel like a nice release to take this stupid issue off of my plate. But I’m always loath to say no out of the fear that people will think me lazy or stupid or inconsiderate. And yeah, I think finally saying no to jerkface Clerk definitely did cause him to think I was all of those things. Which is unpleasant.

Mixed result, I guess. I still feel terribly upset over the whole situation. So maybe the takeaway here is to be TKOG who just ignores jackasses.

[Edit: After I finally got out of my morning funk, Clerk came up to my desk and — miracle of all miracles! — thanked me for my work and offered to print the next batch of stuff on his own! All of a sudden I feel so … empowered and respected!]

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NTKOG #26: The kind of girl who can’t make it through her morning without that extra-hot, ultra-strong black cup o’ java.

I am: both immune to caffeine and hyper-sensitive to acidity in food. I’m talking “can’t even smell a tomato without my eyes watering” sensitive.

I am not: able to vow with certainty that coffee is a scientifically proven toxin. But I drank half a cup of it at a church function once when I was twelve and spent the next fifty-odd hours doubled over in pain. Guess I should have mixed in a little holy water.

The Scene: Corporate America. Thursday morning. There are doughnuts in the breakroom, everyone’s already made the requisite morning non-jokes. Yes, we have hit the dreaded mid-morning lull. Maybe it is my sense of adventure, or maybe just the fact that I haven’t slept a full night since August, but I decide the time has come for my first-ever cup of coffee. Mock-casually I saunter to the breakroom. Who, me? What, I drink the stuff all the time! Coffee, you know, java, joe — damnit, TKOG, keep cool!

The office I work in is roughly seven hundred and fifty times nicer than my apartment. Each office is the size of a $900/month city-outskirt studio; the art on the walls has do-not-touch barricades; for a staff of thirty people, there are THREE top-of-the-line coffee/espresso machiens — the space-age kind that single-brew cups or shots out of those futuristic little pods. And oh god the walls of coffee, in every flavor you could imagine. It is a barista brothel.

I skim through the pods and select the ultra-minimalist Double Fudge Walnut Ripple (no, sadly, the pod did not come with a complimentary pink-sequined mug or whipped cream dispenser) and, with careful nonchalance, brew a cup. Walked it to my desk and sit there, pointedly ignoring it through all fifty entries on my google reader. Don’t want it to burn my tongue, I think. Don’t want it to burn my heart.

Once the situation was cooled down to, y’know, approximately human core temperature, I lifted it up. And wouldn’t you know it — it actually smelled kind of okay. Kind of great, even. Didn’t singe my nose hair at all! Tilted back my first sip and .. nothing. I mean, okay, rich buttery top notes witha  relentless pound of chalky bitterness underneath. But it did not feel, as I always assumed it would based on my long-ago experience, like a giant gulp of battery acid.

I ended up more or less chugging the cup, and, as of press time, am barely dead.

The Verdict: Hey coffee! I’m not afraid of you anymore! I didn’t love the taste and still don’t understand why every dang dude on the T murmurs sweet nothings into his morning cuppa, but nor do I any longer look on coffee addicts with pity and curiosity.

At last count: No apocalyptic gastro-intestinal meltdown (whew. I feared this would turn into a TMI Thursday); no spacey caffeine-high jitters; no chance I have been converted into a lifetime coffee drinker. But this does give credence to my theory that I should retaste all the foods I think I dislike at least once a year to keep expanding my palate.

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