A Man for All Seasoning

I like most seasonings, although I do not like pepper one bit. I’m all about hot and spicy flavors added to nearly anything. Zest, tang, gusto –  fun words to say AND qualities desirable to your taste buds. A dash of seasoning can add life to a bland dish. In the immortal words of Jerry Maguire, dish looks to seasoning and lovingly says, “You complete me.”

I discovered a different type of seasoning early in my Army days. It was then that I learned to appreciate coffee. A few 4 a.m. wakeups in a row will bring you face to face with the body’s need for caffeine. If the ancient gods used to drink ambrosia, it was only because coffee beans had yet to be ground.

Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri sometime in 1987: A young private yawns after emerging from his bivouac tent. Another soldier, already up and industrious poured his mate a cup and they share a not-so-Hallmark moment before a forced 20-mile march. The coffee stinks, made worse by a metal taste of the cup in his canteen set.

canteen

Always with a twinge of tin, the coffee never got any better for the private. Until he reached his permanent duty station.

Ft. Sill, Oklahoma sometime later in 1987: Another bivouac site. Enter a major who happened to catch our private cleaning his cup after chow.

“What are you doing, Private?” the Major barked.

Jumping to attention, the nervous private replied, “Cleaning up, sir!”

“At ease. We don’t do that out here in the field.”

Still wondering why he was reprimanded, the private answered with a smart, “Yes, sir!”

“I was asking you why you were washing out your cup, son. You don’t wash ’em. You’ll never get rid of that terrible metal taste if you do that, Private. You need to let it develop ‘seasoning’. Here, take a look at mine.”

The officer proudly displayed his aged, filthy, stained tin cup. While the private was someone disgusted by the sight, he noted the old warhorse’s appearance wasn’t much better and yielded to his experience. After a few weeks, his cup had a slight brown discoloration to it and surprisingly, his coffee tasted much less like tin.

 

* * * * *

 

Flash forward to present. I still don’t wash coffee mugs out. At work, I like to use the same mug for months and develop something like this.

image

Obviously, I’m no germaphobe. I like to think I add yet a third type of seasoning to the people I work with – the crazy variety. Some of my co-workers complain. They steal my mug to clean it and I act mad when it reappears all shiny on my desk. It is totally a mental thing now, or maybe it gives me a hint of nostalgia to remember the good old army days. Most likely, the little brother comes out and I keep my mug stained since it annoys others – once a little brother, always a little brother.

In the end, I like being That Guy in the office. And yes, I know ceramic mugs don’t need seasoning. But my eccentricity seems to benefit from it.

A Slightly Odd Obsession

I have an admission to make. It is slightly embarrassing, this thing. I had an inkling that something lay festering beneath the surface. Year upon year of building desire should have been a clue. Until last weekend, I had no idea it had become as prolific as recent evidence has shown it to be. I have an obsession – nothing that should hold legal ramifications or moral apprehension, but an obsession nonetheless.

It started innocently enough, as most obsessions do. A look… a secret longing… a caress that eventually leads to some form of grip and holding. A yearning – it forces me to spend hard-earned money to acquire the object of my desire. Hot, steamy, satisfying! I have to have them. I am not tied to one body style, I love all shapes and sizes. I love them for what is inside and the shallow portion of me loves them for their outward appearance as well.

Travel mugs. I love them nearly as much as the coffee they contain. I confess that I can’t have just one. I need many. My lovely wife discovered this in cleaning out the pantry. My collection seems to have grown wildly over the years. They were stuffed in every nook and cranny of the little closet, taking up too much room.

Something had to give, so she said.

But what do I do? Do I let go of some? Donate or dispose? Is there a place to recycle crazy obsessions? Does anyone else have a stupid collection like this or is it just me? I would be lying if I said they all served a purpose. Actually, some have never been used – a few just looked appealing in the store but were either impractical or not functionally optimal.

 

IMG_1545

 

For instance, why would any company make a travel mug that doesn’t fit in a standard size cup holder? It’s the cruelest of jokes because the consumer brings it home, fills it lovingly with the finest java only to have it spill all over the floorboard of the car when rounding the corner a block from home.

What do you do with the one so poorly designed that my nose gets in the way of taking a full drink? I’m no Cyrano De de Bergerac, either. Normal nose – yet after the third sip, I have to crane my neck so far back just to get a drink that I am no longer able to see the road. I’m too old for that kind of exercise.

Note the big tankard in back left. Yes, I Like Big Mugs and I Cannot Lie. But seriously, it holds so much coffee that it is cold by the time you get halfway through.

LW said some of them had to go. I think she was jealous of my obsession – she didn’t like the thought of me holding so many other things in high regard. I begged for a little corner of the pantry to hold my collection, but she pointed to the Mickey Mouse waffle iron, popcorn machine, coffee grinder, and a couple of other little-used appliances I have bought on a whim that take up valuable storage space.

And so, I reluctantly pared down my coffee mug collection. I threw out a couple and donated the others in the hopes that someone else would appreciate them.

 

 

The irony of this whole situation is that I have an extremely short commute.