Quiet Desperation

Life without coffee is ... well ... well, it’s bad


Bach credited God.

Raymond Chandler refused to expedite the screenplay for “The Blue Dahlia” unless he was permitted to drink alcohol and to drink heavily.

I depend upon hot, black coffee — lots of it —to write. Without hot, black coffee, I am at a loss for, uh, something.

Recent periodontal surgery means no hot, black coffee for two weeks.

The impact of this will undoubtedly have an impact on my impact.

There are no hot foods for two weeks either.

That’s manageable, but I have learned that foods that are generally served hot should not be served cold.

Cold macaroni and cheese is not very comforting. Neither are scrambled eggs or mashed potatoes.

There are no Peanut M&Ms for two weeks and that’s another hardship. I pretend they are vitamins and take a fistful daily.

I have to eat on the left side of my mouth. When the right side of my mouth has healed, Dr. Kim will repeat the procedure on the left side of my mouth.

That will mean two more weeks of abstinence.

I have learned something else that’s very important: namely, that time goes by.

No: It gallops by.

It’s another Olympics year. It’s another presidential election year.

Two weeks will come and go, then another post-operation period without coffee will come and go, and it will be summer, then fall, then 2021 before I know it.

And I will be back on the scalding nectar made from coffee beans, without which my similes are as flat as a board and dull as dullness.

The story about Chandler and the screenplay sounds like someone made it up, but it’s true.

Chandler was a heavy drinker. How he was able to drink and write is incomprehensible. I’ve tried.

He was offered more money to finish the script, but insisted on alcohol. Chandler explained the drinking wouldn’t be a problem, but the aftermath would be. A doctor and nurses were nearby.

The irony is he had to put words in the mouth of Veronica Lake, whom he referred to as “Moronica.”

A further irony is that Lake’s death at the age of 50 was, in part, attributed to alcohol abuse.

Innumerable composers, artists, writers, and actors have depended on a substance for inspiration or survival as creators.

William Holden, Jackson Pollock, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King.

King said he “barely remembers” writing “Cujo” in 1981.

Right now, I am depending upon something called ibuprofen to get through this. I wish I were not. But deadlines are deadlines, and my editor, well, remember that gruff Perry White at The Daily Planet?

Triple that.

If this column isn’t on his desk tomorrow morning I’ll be in for it.

For someone who writes the way I do, his punishments are severe. Once he made me stick to one subject and not meander or bring in film or references to obscure songs or singers.

I recently watched a short documentary about Roy Rogers lookalike Spade Cooley, an immensely popular 1940s and 50s American Western swing band musician and band leader.

Cooley, who often doubled for Rogers in films, accused his wife of having an affair with Rogers.

He was arrested and convicted of his wife’s murder.

What good is it to have minutia in my head if I can’t spill it to prop up a column about my teeth?

I’m counting the days.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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