that first cup of coffee this morning tasted way too good, sending me off to a memory of my very first cup ever.
second floor of a three family house on roseville avenue newark.
we lived on the first floor, my grandparents on the second, my great aunt on the third.
it was very much a normal living arrangement for a four year old, his two younger brothers and his early twenties parents.
and every morning i awoke in the back bedroom, right below the kitchen above, right next to the back stairs, right nicely situated for an early morning escape in my one piece pjs up those creaking floor boards to the promise of a bacon strip beaconed by an a&p eight o'clock coffee scent, made strong enough, as nan always warned, "to grow hair on your chest"—as disturbing a thought as a little kid could imagine.
but that aroma.
then one morning, when nan wasn't feeling so well and wasn't there to watch him, pop-pop poured an extra cup of coffee and sat it down right in front of me.
a half cup to be fair.
nevertheless, his perfectly trimmed, pencil thin mustache looked particularly devilish.
oh baby, what he was up to was something big all right.
i nervously wiggled in my seat.
next he showed me how to press the top of the evaporated milk can to squirt just enough cream out what appeared to be a crusty puncture wound in the lid, and into the cup.
well, whatever it was that oozed out immediatley disappeared below the surface.
to be honest, i would have never even known it was in there if i hadn't seen it go in with my own eyes.
pop-pop took a spoon and gave his cup nothing more than a single, slow stroke.
i did the same.
magically my coffee turned a golden light brown.
then came a spoonful of sugar.
excellent, i thought.
another slow stir.
fine, another slow stir for me too then.
then he lifted his cup.
i grabbed mine with both hands, like a soup bowl.
he pulled it up to his nose and smelled it.
i did the same.
he said, ahhh.
i said, ahhh.
then he clinked his cup against mine and said, here's to hair on your chest.
i said, nope.
i watched as he sipped.
then i followed suit.
man oh man, i was living large.
i sat back, warm cup in hands.
i felt pretty darn old that moment.
like i had just joined some sort of club for big boys only.
my two younger brothers had no clue what they were missing out on.
but they were too young for this anyway.
heck, dougie could barely climb the stairs without crappin' in his diapers, and ricky was trapped like a rat in that crib.
and i thought how this was one time when being the oldest wasn't accompanied with the usual, "you should know better bobby".
no sirree, this was one sweet benefit of aging first.
and that was that.
my first cup.
haven't looked back since.
yup ... age four.
oh yeah, and as for the hair growin' on the chest?
it was real slow to kick in.