Monday afternoon I called Wayne, because a conversation with Wayne was what my Monday afternoon needed. At one point he said, without a segue, "So, I've decided I need to be more of a snob." I figured there was a good reason for this pronouncement, so I waited to hear it. "I started drinking tea a while ago," he said, "mostly chais, because they seemed healthier than coffee. Green chais, herbal chais--there was a vanilla chai I really loved and couldn't get enough of for a while. Lately I've been drinking black tea and I really like it, and I realized it's not really that different from coffee. But I just like it better than coffee. And then I realized that part of the problem was that I drank so much bad coffee."
He was on a roll and it was interesting, so I didn't interrupt him.
"You know how for a long time I was all about coffee?" I made some noise of acquiescence. "Well, good coffee is really good. But bad coffee is really bad. And I realized today that I needed to be more of a diva when it comes to coffee. Not once, when I was presented with a cup of really awful coffee, did I taste it, then spit it out and say, ‘How can you expect me to drink this shit?! This is vile! This is beyond vile! I will not pollute my mouth or any other part of me with a substance so thoroughly foul!"
"Does this mean you're going to start drinking coffee again?" I asked.
"Maybe," he said. "But only good coffee. If I do, I will be a complete coffee snob. I'm ashamed to tell you about all the bad coffee I've had, Holly. I mean, coffee from some awful container that's been on the back of a caterer's truck for hours and hours if not days and days.... We're talking some of the worst coffee in the world. Coffee that even before you sugar and cream it up, you can just tell is going to take the enamel right off your teeth--both the smell and the look of it just tell that it's not OK."
There was a pause, and I imagined him staring at the painting of Gabriel Garko he had just finished, and shaking his head. "But I would drink it, I would drink that bad coffee, because it was coffee and I believed I liked coffee. I would drink the whole cup, thinking at some point, it would get better, but a bad cup of coffee never gets better, though it often gets worse."
"That pretty much sums up my feelings about sex," I said. And then we both laughed--after all, as both Karen Walker and Homer Simpson said, it was funny because it was true.
Wayne drank bad coffee just because it was coffee and he believed he liked coffee; I had bad sex just because it was sex and I believed I liked sex. I did say, on more than one occasion, "I'm not willing to have sex right now," but on those occasions when I said OK to sex and it turned out to be bad, I never said, "This sex is really bad! How dare you subject me to such bad sex! Get out of my bed!" That, after all, didn't seem polite. No, I just did what I could to make it end sooner, and hoped it would be better the next time.