In the big book of the DHMF, (Doghouse Manifesto) Chapter 16, entitled: ACCEPTABLE BEVERAGES FOR THE MAN IN YOUR LIFE- there listed four separate beverages with sub-categories for each entry.
(I know- I left out a whole bunch of stuff, like Milk, and Tea, and soft drinks, and wine. Look- I’m just trying to keep this short and simple, okay?)
In the H2O group, the categories are: TAP WATER- including Country Well and Treated City Supply: IN HOME FILTERS- including those small idiot carbuncle looking Faucet attachments: BOTTLED WATER- which includes a snotty and generally disgruntled Deliveryman who will NEVER leave your full bottles where you tell him to, and your various Grocery Class CARBONATED WATERS- both flavored and unflavored- none of which are a suitable substitute for beer on a hot day if you are on a budget, or trying to lose a few pounds- which, sadly, I am.
Then, if we skip down to Beer- well, as you might imagine, the following chapters on beer are quite extensive and they include but are not limited to nine excruciatingly detailed volumes titled: DOMESTIC BEERS. The list of domestics is long, tedious and confusing- and, I haven’t even begun to mention IMPORTS- but, if you are ever stuck for a beer choice in the Continental U.S., (For instance, never order a Budweiser in a foreign country unless you are willing to pay snooty import prices!) the three universally acceptable choices are, Budweiser™, Miller™, Coors™, or whatever your particular favorite micro/artisan brew happens to be, as long as you don’t mind starting an argument, or having people laugh at you for drinking ‘girly’ beer, so you’re just better off to stick with the basics: Bud™, Miller™ and Coors™.
I’m not even going to try and get into the wonderful world of Home Brewing, with sub-categories that include but not limited to CIDER, APPLE-JACK, HARD CIDER, and the ever popular: THE CARE AND MAINTENANCE OF YOUR STILL- with a lengthy discussion on THE CARE AND TREATMENT OF FLASH BURNS- various Federal Law and prerequisite mandatory prison terms; how humorless and grim the guys over at ATF can be, and how to successfully hide from Revenuers!
That brings us to Spirits. If I tried to cover the nearly unending list of drinks, potions and elixirs made with Spirits, and all the subcategories and sub-subcategories of Spirits themselves, I would have to copy and/or plagiarize any one of the dozens of “American Bartender’s Guide” publications, so I will suggest just one drink- a good American Bourbon: plain, unadulterated with ice or water, or any kind of sweet sugary soda; and only to be consumed on rare, or special and/or ‘Blue Moon’ occasions, and only in the strictest Christian moderation.
Trust me on this- your head will thank you later.
So, that brings me back to item number two on my list: COFFEE- I like coffee. I started drinking coffee when I was ten years old. I am a coffee drinker. Like all the other items on my list, the chapters on Coffee are long and detailed, so I am going to narrow this down, simply for brevity’s sake. I offer three different types of coffee in my home:
1) Commercial Class American Coffee.
a) Yuban™ is what I prefer, although I am not above, Hills Bros.™, Folgers™, or MJB™.
I have a Standard Grind Electric Drip Brewer, and three sizes of Old School Range-top Percolators for this coffee application.
2) Hearty Whole Bean Self-Grind French Press Varieties.
a) I have three different sizes of French Presses and a gravity fed, fine mesh, cloth filter, highly decorated Brass Turkish Carafe, that goes well with the energetic and robust blends of this category.
3) Espressos and Cappuccino’s.
a) For espresso, I have an assortment of stovetop hexagonal pot sizes, from single and double, all the way up to the vaunted party ‘bong’. All of which are properly ‘seasoned’, rinsed but never washed and kept ready for use by storage in sealed plastic bags.
At my house, when you request coffee, you don’t get a cup, you get a menu! And, that brings me to the heart, the nerve center of my coffee world; my very expensive imported Italian, Espresso/Cappuccino Machine. Boy, is it ever a nice one!
It broke last week.
There I was with my carefully pre-heated, exquisitely shaped, gold rimmed bone china, double espresso demitasse cup, with a precisely folded napkin in the saucer, all set to brew myself a hot, comforting, creamy, thick, rich and frothy cappuccino, and my very expensive, imported Italian Espresso/Cappuccino Machine, simply gasped, gurgled and then gave up the ghost and died!
But… but… but- aw, man!
I called the repair shop in San Francisco. Not only do they not make this machine anymore, but the repair man died!
But… but… but- aw, man!
I wanted to feel sorry for the man who died- and I tried too- but I was already deep in mourning for my very expensive imported Italian, Espresso/Cappuccino Machine, and wondering how I was going to get through my day without my appropriate caffeine fix?
“Well!” I thought to myself. “It’s not rocket science or brain surgery. How hard can it really be to fix my very expensive imported Italian, Espresso/Cappuccino Machine?”
That and other really bad ideas are discussed at some length in Chapters 53-a, and the successive volumes of 53-b through ‘g’, under the basic heading of: BAD IDEAS AND THE STUPID MEN WHO GET THEM. For further reading on this, consult the table of contents under: HOME MAINTENANCE FOR BONEHEADS- and, THE AMATEUR REPAIRMAN’S GUIDE TO ELECTRICAL BURNS AND ACCIDENTAL HOUSE FIRES. All of which can be address by Rule 1028-e of the: REMEDIAL READING AND PRACTISES- Chapter, which states, and I quote: “If the repairs of any item in your home, which has exceeded its original manufacturers warranty, cost half or greater than half of the original purchase price, it is time to purchase and/or upgrade said item with a new item. Do not have said item repaired, and do not, repeat- do not- attempt to repair said item yourself, and/or without proper certified supervision.”
Oh, yeah- sure! Like I was going to pay attention to that!
It took some doing, but I finally got the thing apart, and all the pieces- well, almost anyway- labeled and laid out for easy re-assembly. The problem is, that since they don’t make this machine anymore, you can’t buy replacements parts for it either. But, that wasn’t going to stop me! All I needed was a small interior electrical panel for the buttons, a new converter, condenser unit and pump, and I could get all that stuff at my local Radio Shack™ and my Build-It-Yourself Motorized Model Assembly Store!
After several trips, I finally had all the parts I needed, but since none of them were actually made for my particular project, they didn’t exactly fit into their respective slots and compartments, so I had to mount them on the top and the outside, and connect the whole scheme with home soldered electrical wire and flex tubing. While I was at it, I upgraded the electrical panel to carry a few extra volts, and bought a higher capacity water pump, converter and condenser units to get a few more millibars of water pressure.
I got it all back together- I think- but, it had definitely acquired a Frankenstein’s Monster look. Well, ‘form follows function’ aside, at least I have my very expensive imported Italian, Espresso/Cappuccino Machine back up and running, and a good cup of Italian ‘Joe’ couldn’t be far behind!
“What are you doing?”
She startled me so bad, I nearly fell off of my shop-stool. I really have to get her that collar bell.
“Don’t do that!” I snapped.
She wandered over to my workbench.
“What,” she demanded as she put her hands on her hips, “in the world is that supposed to be?”
“Our very expensive imported Italian, Espresso/Cappuccino Machine. I fixed it!” I waved my hand like a magic wand over my little Frankenstein.
“You did not!”
I smiled. She was actually surprised.
“Yeah, I did and it’s going to work great! Probably better than before!”
She took in a deep breath and let it out slowly.
“That was not a congratulatory statement of proud disbelief. That was a factual remark- you did not fix the coffee machine. You built a bomb, and I’m not going to let you plug that thing in!”
She surveyed my workbench carefully. She saw all the wires, the solder and my soldering iron, and all the different sacks from all the different stores. She saw all the pieces, the extra pieces and the small mound of receipts (@#$%*!) that I hadn’t taken the time to hide or destroy- mostly because I didn’t hear her come home.
“How much did all this cost?” She demanded.
I shrugged my shoulders innocently.
“I don’t know, a few bucks…”
She held up one receipt.
“This one receipt alone is for $300.00! And, there must be ten or fifteen more receipts just like it!”
“We could have bought three new coffee machines for what it cost for you to build a bomb!” She shouted.
“Now, honey…” I tried to interrupt.
“And, even if, by some miracle that monstrosity actually works; even if when you plug it in, it doesn’t blow up and we manage somehow to survive the first cup of espresso, do you think I’m going to let you park that ugly step-child piece of electronic- whateverthehell you call it- in my beautiful kitchen?”
“Honey- you’re, you’re shouting at me…”
“And, you can’t even take all that stuff back, because you have modified, altered and changed it to the point that it is unrecognizable!”
This wasn’t working out nearly as well as I thought it would.
“Yeah, but, I don’t want to take all this stuff back. I want to have coffee. See, it works just fine!”
She heard me speaking and she saw what I was about to do, but she just couldn’t move fast enough to stop me. I plugged my very expensive imported Italian, Espresso/Cappuccino Machine/Frankenstein into the wall socket.
She shrieked, grabbed her head and ducked. Nothing happened. No electrical sparks or shorts. No explosion. You would have thought, by her reaction, that she was almost disappointed.
“It didn’t blow up…” She murmured.
“Of course not, silly. I plugged it, but I didn’t turn it on!”
She heard me speaking and she saw what I was about to do, but she just couldn’t move fast enough to stop me.
“NO!!!” She shrieked again.
There was no explosion. Not a big one, anyway. No real sparks or open flames. There was just a little bit of smoke and a kind of a funny smell; at least that’s what I explained to the Electrical Company Supervisor, while we watched his crew switching out the transformer on the pole outside my house. He was really quite friendly and rather understanding about the whole thing.
He told me that the cost of the new transformer, replacing the scorched pole, and about a quarter mile of fried high tension wire; the extra electricians, the line crew, the overtime crew, the fire trucks, paramedics, firemen, one city Policeman, two County Sheriffs and a State Trooper who kept cruising back and forth; two technicians working the sub-panel in front of my neighbor’s house, two guys working the subterranean lines under the street, with two more flagmen directing traffic around the open manhole; two more city Cops re-routing surface traffic around the street lights that no longer functioned- I’m not sure where the Ice Cream Man came from, I guess he saw the crowd and figured it would be good for business- and the total cost of lost service to about half of the neighborhood grid, could all be added to my monthly statement in small measured increments, and with a little bit of luck, budgeting and no more mishaps- he hit that point kind of hard- I should have it all paid off over the relatively short period of a few thousand years, or a mini Ice Age, whichever comes first.
“Other than that,” he said, “it should be no problem.”
Easy for him to say…
On top of everything, I didn’t get my morning cappuccino.
* sigh *