Biking home from work last night, it was cold for an August evening, and I was loaded down with fresh produce bought in the am from the farmers’ market downtown.  I’ve been trying to eat “Five a day, the color way” and it’s not easy.  Muskmelons were three for $2, so had those, as well as a three-pound bag of apples, a dozen sweet peppers, and an eggplant.  My mom had given me a boatload of tomatoes the day before, so red is pretty well covered.  Anyway, after working late, the ride home was chilly and dark so I took an alternate route, right past the coffee shop that has half-price bakery after 8pm or whenever the baristas get to putting the sign out.  The lure of muffins was irresistible.  My friend happened to be there for the chattin’.  That was awesome: the perfect end to an almost-perfect day.


Today was an ok day at work.  My boss was gone.  Days always go better when she is gone.  She micromanages me:  she only allows me to use one certain restroom in the building.   She has actually followed me to ensure that I was not planning to urinate elsewhere. 

You see, we have two groups of  coworkers: those that don’t have the decency to poop at home (alright; it can happen to anyone, but don’t plan it into your daily work schedule and get freaking paid to do it every day, ok?  [don’t get me started on the daily bagel rituals]) , and others  who cannot tolerate the scent of poop.  Therefore, we have automated dispensers in all but one of our tiny restrooms that spritz the horrendous  Amrep product Snappy Apple at regular intervals.  Snappy Apple has its own MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet.  I looked it up: it “treats up to 6,000 cubic feet in high occupancy areas.”  These are single-seater bathrooms, maybe 400 cubic feet each, and definitely not “high occupancy.”  (You know, not clown cars.  Really.)


So, one time I was minding my own private business in the restroom, and Snappy Apple automatedly dispensed a puff of Snappy Apple poison, and I had an asthma attack.  On the toilet.  In a locked single-seater bathroom.  Oh, the filling out of forms that was involved once bronchospasm abated (near-death=lots of paperwork).


 An action plan then had to be created.  Logic would indicate, dude, smash the damn Snappy Apple dispenser with a hammer.  I’ll clock out and joyfully do this for the benefit of all- (asthma is a common diagnosis; perhaps the 18th most common).  I actually used to remove the cans from the dispenser and throw them away, but locks then mysteriously appeared on them- funny how change occurs quickly when it is to human detriment.  My online research and subsequent letters to occupational “health” went unheeded. My guess: MY BOSS IS THE CLOCKED-IN POOPER  WHO CAN’T STAND THE SCENT OF HER OWN SHIT.  Is this a benefit of middle management? 


But getting rid of an unnecessary, toxic, too-concentrated, life-threatening product in a health-care facility was not the plan.  Once my survival was assured, I had to visit every restroom with my boss and find the only one that didn’t conveniently dispense poopsmell “disguiser”.  That is the only one I am allowed to use. Ever.  If someone else is using it (to poop, perhaps); or worse, if the adjacent rooms are locked (as often happens),  I just have to suck it up.  Like grade school.  Yeah, I’m ten years old again, raising my hand or waiting for recess.  I drink a lot of coffee to cope with work.  I pee, you know, a few times a day.


But, on a nice day like today, I could hold my breath, pee anywhere I liked, and feel free.  Free!  How wonderful is that?  Ah, the little pleasures of life. 

“That’s the extent of my intoxication these days- a double mocha.”


We had already had about four cups of coffee each that day when he said that, around 3 pm.

(Jack has conquered many cunning, baffling, and powerful addictions- smoking is the last of his  socially shunned ones, but coffee also retains a powerful grip on us both.  We have no desire whatsoever to end that mutually beneficial relationship.  Who among us has no vice?)

If my urine smells like coffee, does that mean I am drinking too much?  When I can smell it coming from my skin?  When Jack and I make four pots of it a day and plan vacation time around it, how about then?

I read somewhere- in some long-forgotten novel, sorry author- your words but not your name have stuck with me- one character tells another he should cut down on his coffee consumption because it will “turn your insides to shoe leather.”

So be it.

Seriously, though, how much is too much?