In the early 1950s I was wont to prowl the cellar clubs in Rockland where we often heard a tall man with a guitar sing about the hazards of navigating the Haynesville Woods. He’d start off by saying how many years and days it had been since he’d had a drink.

At the time I thought it was a strange way to start a show, but this business of day counting came to mind when I realized that I hadn’t had a cup of coffee for 119 days until I needed one while driving home from Florida.

If you’ve ever been addicted to a substance, you know what we’re talking about here.

Realizing that I need coffee entitles me to call it “drug drink” or just plain “drugs,” and I have done so for years. Like anyone addicted to a substance, I’m more than willing to inflict it upon my friends, and if you’ve been here you might recall my asking if you’d like to do drugs and cookies.

I might have done drugs only once over the past month and it wasn’t because I wanted to. I don’t remember the actual act, but I do remember being very sick the next day – and we’re talking about only one-third of a cup.

We jacked up the floors last fall and had to patch and repaint the walls and, unless I do drugs at noon, I’m all done painting for the day. Management does not want me napping all afternoon. But because coffee makes me sick– there is a wicked downer the next day – doing drugs so I can stand up long enough to paint for three more hours is not worth the price.


I don’t know what chemical in the coffee bean makes me sick. If it’s not the caffeine, I might garner the same amount of strength from a strong cup of tea, made palatable by a liberal shot of honey.

My grandmother Gilchrest drank a lot of tea. It came in a square red box that had Chinese writing on it and, because this was back before tariffs, she could easily afford to buy it.

I started out to tell you about doing drugs while driving home from Florida. Getting my usual two-hour nap right after dinner was out of the question. The alternative was to buy some eye-opening drug drink at one of those Southern pit stops that sells everything from Red Bull to Confederate flags.

Buying coffee has become complicated because there are many kinds. Two young people who were filling their paper cups told me which button to push. So you can swill it in your car without spilling, you put a black plastic cap on the top. The cap is covered with all kinds of gadgets and resembles the dashboard on a small plane.

I walked outside and asked a man who was getting out of his car how to open the cap. He was almost my age so he didn’t know any more about the modern technology than I did. But a younger person told me to pull a tab back and it would open up a hole and you could ingest the drug drink through that.

I pulled back the tab and tried to take a sip.


But nothing came out when I sucked on the hole. When I peeked in the tiny slot I could see that there was some kind of black plastic membrane down in there. So I took out my nail file – that you might have given me for speaking at your Lions or Kiwanis club 35 years ago – and tried to punch through that black plastic I saw in the hole.

After messing with it for a while the cap came off and I discovered that there was another cap under it. I’d put on two.

The world has changed so much that an old Maine man no longer knows how to pour a cup of coffee – or get it out once it is in the cup.

When technologically challenged people could no longer function in society, some 19th-century sociologists said that they were alienated.

In a few primitive cultures, alienated old people are expected to blissfully wander off into the woods and die. In progressive cultures they are pensioned off and hang out a shingle for body oil or skin cream.

Maine is somewhere in between. If you manage to outlive your schoolmates, you become a character and people from away will drive for 10 hours just to hear you talk.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at his website:

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