I feel like a stranger in a strange land. Not because I’m the protagonist of a Robert Heinlein novel, but because I don’t drink caffeine. I’ll pause a moment to let your mouths fall agape as you shout “WAIT WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTT.”
True story. I’ve never drunk coffee in my life. Okay, wait, there was that one time when I was a curious young four-year-old and my dad let me taste his coffee and I was so horrified that I jerked violently and spilled it all over my Charlie Brown pajama pants. But other than that I have usually abstained from the black stuff. And from Red Bull. And Monster, too. Fuck that shit.
Final exams may be over at Northwestern, but I know there are a bunch of other poor unfortunate souls out there who still have to cram months’ worth of learning into their skulls before exams. As a result they may, in all their mortal vulnerability, be tempted to turn to the evil that is caffeinated beverages. I am here to hold up my hand and say the same thing I would say to anyone planning to read Roberto Bolaño’s novel 2666: Don’t do it!That’s a picture of a temple. I included it in this article because, like the Baha’i Temple, my body is a temple. When I stay up till four in the morning writing a six page essay about what Henry David Thoreau would think about the Weather Underground, I do so simply on the sober strength of my own fucking willpower. I understand that if you start thinking about this metaphor, some obvious contradictions might jump out at you like the T-Rex face in my old dinosaur pop-up book. But I’ll remind you that most temples have alcohol in them. You can put wine into a temple without damaging it, and Christians have done so for ages. But something tells me that if you shot lightning at a temple to “give it energy,” you would really just blow up the temple. That’s my visualization of inserting caffeine into a human system.
Shoot a temple with lightning and it will never be intact again. Give me Red Bull and I will never sleep again. I have enough trouble as it is. The first time I stayed up past midnight on a day that wasn’t New Year’s Eve, it was all over for me. Once I crossed that threshold, it became impossible for me to ever fall asleep before midnight again. At night my productivity goes up, and I suddenly remember all the Grantland articles I wanted to read and all the episodes of Dragon Ball Z that I wanted to watch that I somehow forgot about during the daytime. Before I know it, it’s 2:30 and somehow the knowledge that I have to telemarket for three hours the next day doesn’t stop me from looking up YouTube clips of old Martin Luther King, Jr. speeches until my eyelids finally take executive action and shut themselves, only to be jarred awake hours later by an alarm just in time to swallow a mouthful of Cocoa Puffs before huffing it to my French class with all possible speed. No rest for the weary, and I am nothing if not weary.
I am not alone here. I have friends who drink coffee like it’s water. As a result, they go to bed at midnight and wake up at six every day. They think they’re fully functioning modern human beings. I think they’re more like zombie robots in danger of falling apart at any second. I don’t want to see that happen, so I’m finally coming out against the horrid black stuff.That’s a subjective take on the general suckiness of caffeinated drinks, so I’ll throw in an objective approach as well. I feel like I shouldn’t have to mention this, since it is as inherently obvious as the blueness of the sky or the hotness of Kate Middleton, but caffeine is gross. Coffee is gross, and everybody secretly knows it. I’m not just talking about the people who pour mounds of sugar into their mugs to deaden their sorry souls to the fact that they’re drinking liquid poop. I’m talking about everyone. We all seem to have agreed to forget that coffee is disgusting, the way we all agreed to forget that George W. Bush was appointed President by the Supreme Court.
And not just coffee. Red Bull is gross too. I admit, I’ve tasted it a few times, and I’d sooner hang out with Michele Bachmann for a few hours than repeat the experience. But even if I hadn’t been capable of offering this personal testimony of awfulness, surely the list of ingredients – which looks like something Walter White might cook up in his basement to pay for chemotherapy – would probably be convincing enough. 4Loko actually tastes kind of good, but it’s illegal, so that’s a given. I won’t even talk about 5 hour energy drinks until they make better commercials. If my RTVF roommate could make a better commercial than the one you put on TV, you probably don’t deserve to exist, let alone be talked about in the valuable Internet real estate that is this website.I realize that this anti-caffeine argument is difficult. Sometimes the AP curriculum makes it seem as if the College Board just assumes that every AP student is injecting caffeine into their eyeballs (Either that or no one told them about the existence of time-consuming extracurriculars, but either way they’re a bunch of douchemuffins who gave me too much homework in high school). Then there’s the necessity of being a hipster in order to have any social currency in this hyper media-literate world. That means you need to read Pitchfork regularly and wear clothes originally designed for
Society seems to have ordered its priorities like this:
But that is so, so wrong. Our society has forgotten the value of sleep. Let me tell you, there was one Saturday earlier this quarter when I slept until 3 pm. It was the greatest day of my life. We all need sleep to recuperate from the horrid heinousness of everyday life, and coffee prevents that. It sucks. Finals suck. Life sucks too. But you just need to get over it. Do it all natural or not at all, that’s my motto. Sleep well, my friends.
(And for those of you wondering about the fate of my aforementioned Charlie Brown pajama pants: They did not survive their encounter with coffee, and were promptly retired to the dustbin of history. The world is a worse place for it).