I lived approximately 37 years on this earth without drinking coffee.  Granted, some of those were my childhood years, but whatever.

37 years.  13,505 days.  324,120 hours.  19,447,200 minutes.

All that time I lived a relatively full and happy life, without coffee.

Now I have days when just the thought of leaving the house without drinking a cup or two makes my brain ache.  What turned me into a java hound after such an incredibly long streak of coffee abstinence?

I managed to get through high school just fine without even trying coffee.  I keep meeting adults who say they began drinking it in high school to study for tests.  Now I like to think of myself as diligent, but considering my reaction the first time I tasted coffee there’s no way I would have willingly consumed this stuff as a teenager.  Even if refusing to drink it meant falling asleep while studying.  It was that gross.

I also survived college without a coffee mug in hand.  There were plenty of late nights studying and long hours spent on projects, but I found drinking an enormous amount of soda worked just fine.  And I’m, you know, old and stuff so we’re talking the days of downing plain old cans of diet Pepsi.  No energy drinks, no high-octane liquid fuel, just good old-fashioned carbonated chemicals to keep me awake.

There were many post-college years that were coffee-free as well.  People would sometimes be a little perplexed when I wouldn’t have a cup after dinner (a ritual I still don’t fully understand seeing as it would keep me awake all night, and decaf just makes me think “what’s the point?”), but I didn’t find myself ostracized in the adult community for my choice.  Sometimes people would ask about it but would eventually accept “Seriously, I think it’s disgusting” as my final word on the subject.

I think it was the word disgusting that closed those conversations down.

But there were three people who simply never gave up on the idea that, given enough opportunities, coffee could win me over.

I can’t begin to count the number of times BrightSide said, “You’d like it if you added creamer and sugar.”  (Out of my extraordinary love for him I did indeed try it.  And he was wrong.)  He kept telling me the story about his mom and how she always HATED coffee but his dad was always drinking it (seriously, that man can drink an entire pot of coffee BY HIMSELF at a meal — we tell waitresses that they should FOR REAL just leave the pot and save themselves the seven refill trips) so eventually she learned to drink it with cream and sugar and then she loved it and now she’s gotten to where she drinks it black, AMEN.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story was supposed to be.  It sounds an awful lot like go on, try it, all the cool kids are drinking it, even my MOM learned to like it so I’m sure you’ll love it, too.  Except that would be w-r-o-n-g.  Because that would be p-e-e-r  p-r-e-s-s-u-r-e.  And I’m a product of high school in the ’80s with Just Say No and all that jazz.  So I would smile, nod, and go on with my non-coffee-drinking life.

The other people utterly convinced that I could enjoy drinking a liquid that tasted like bitter sludge were sista-friend and her hubby.  We’d all go out to dinner and afterward BrightSide and sista-friend would drink their cup-a-joe, looking happy as clams with the clamdiggers on vacation.  I was cool with it, the coffee sloshing around in their cups wasn’t bothering me a bit…yet there’d almost always be an offhand comment about me and my lack of java-enthusiasm.

Thinking back on it, the level of coffee-convincing seems a little odd.  Like, do you get a cut of the profits if you recruit another coffee junkie?  Is there some secret coffee-drinker-club requirement that states you must Go Forth and Gather New Members?  Kind of like Jehovah’s witnesses, but with coffee mugs instead of booklets?  (As a side note, I’m sure many Jehovah’s witnesses themselves enjoy a good cup of coffee after doing all that walking around and door-knocking.)

So anyway, sista-friend and hubby loved to pitch the virtues of coffee as well, but to no avail.  I was firmly anti-coffee-bean-beverage.

The absolute last time they encouraged me to try it is seared into my memory.  The four of us loved to hang out at this little coffeehouse in town — it was an adorable independent place with lots of tables and chairs and cards and board games, and sometimes they’d have a musician come in and play.  You could sit there for hours and just hang out.  It closed a number of years ago, and BrightSide and I still mourn its passing.  (Sorry, all you Starbucks fans who chill in their slick stores with your laptops and free wi-fi, but it’s just not the same.)

I know, I know, you’re all “Why would you be torn up over losing a coffeehouse?  You hate coffee, you’ve said so 79 times in this post alone.”  Putting aside the laid-back atmosphere and hours of fun we had there, the owners also recognized that non-coffee drinkers might, through no fault of their own, end up in their establishment.  (Perhaps by the “majority rules” concept of date night plans.) Anyway, they also offered hot chocolate and smoothies so I was content.

At any rate, I was telling you about The Last Time.  We were hanging out at the coffeehouse where sista-friend and hubby were enthusiastically telling me about their new blueberry coffee.  “It tastes just like blueberries, you don’t even taste the coffee.  Really, it’s amazing, I can’t even tell it’s coffee.  Here, you can try mine.  You’re gonna love it.”

Cue dutiful (and dubious) sip of “blueberry” coffee followed by a face that probably looked like I’d sucked on a lemon.  (To be fair, there WAS a hint of blueberry taste to that drink.  I think they just vastly underestimated my sensitivity to coffee beans.)

And that tore it.  Sista-friend never uttered another word to me about coffee.  Well, except for the time she told me that you can make a good pseudo-drink at those coffee machines in gas stations by mixing half cappucino and half hot chocolate.

Fast forward several years to when the kids came home.  You’d think that would have been the final straw, right?  But I still managed to hold my ground.  Through T-man’s arrival, with his ear infection that kept him up at night and constant activity throughout the day.  Through the unfathomable exhaustion of Bear’s addition to our family, with her newborn sleep (or lack thereof) patterns and the challenge of having two little people in my care.  Somehow, some way, I still managed to function.  Well, kind of.  But whatever I was doing, I did it without coffee.

The moment of truth actually came a couple of years into having the kids.  We went to the beach every summer with my side of the family — the kids’  grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, the whole she-bang.  We rented a house on the beach and spent a week together, playing in the ocean and getting sand in every possible crevice.  It was a lot of fun and we were thrilled that the kids had a chance to make those memories…but MAN!  I thought being at home with them all day was exhausting.  Try being at home all day with the constant excitement of relatives on every side and the beach 5 yards off the back deck.

Yeah, it was all-crazy, all-the-time.

I’m pretty sure The Moment happened during Bear’s second year at the beach, which would have made her one and T-man almost three-years-old.

I woke up on Monday morning, went down for breakfast, and was suddenly positive that I would never survive that week without coffee.  I grabbed a cup, poured some in, added the sweetener and Hazelnut creamer and lo and behold — it was delicious.  I believe I enjoyed two cups of coffee that morning.

I e-mailed a picture of the coffee cup with its caffeine concoction to sista-friend.

Score another one for the coffee-drinker-club recruitment.