I’ll bring the cream.

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Photo courtesy of Mikael T on Flickr.

I grew up with a father who worshipped coffee. He still does. I absolutely attribute my love of the rich, bold tasting brew to him, since I may not have given being a coffee drinker more serious thought if it hadn’t been for his influence.

He took it so seriously that I thought one must be a cool person if s/he is a coffee drinker. And I still hold this opinion. But we know I am a total coffee snob.

Anyway, my dad took his coffee with cream when I was a kid (well, half ‘n half). On Sundays when we’d go to church, he would bring a carton of cream to share with others during coffee hour (the hour(s) adults would stand around and talk about grownup things), because he wanted his coffee doctored just so. I always thought this was a strange practice, not understanding what was at stake, of course.

I didn’t know what “powdered creamer” was or that it has nothing whatsoever in common with the real thing. I was ignorant of what delicate texture cream gives to a hearty cup of joe.

As a grown woman who has strong preferences on just about everything, especially what food and beverages I consume, I can safely attest that given the same set of circumstances, I, too, would be hauling my own cream to a weekly function where there is coffee but nothing with which to doctor it.

I have brought my own cream to work on many occasions, because otherwise I cannot drink coffee at work. Coffee and cream go together, plain and simple.

At one of my previous jobs, my employer actually provided milk and cream in the kitchen in the fridge. It was even stocked for us. Do you know what a luxury that was? Picture Forrest Gump saying, “Magic cream.” (Instead of “magic legs.”)

Seriously, best. thing. ever. My cup runneth over with cream. I had my fill of coffee those three years, perfectly blended just the way I liked it.

As I was doing some dishes in the not too distant past, I got to daydreaming and thought about whether I would ask my staff to keep cream in the fridge for me if I ever made it to a top position in management or public office or something. I really think the answer is yes.

Certainly, if I were a pop star, my rider would explicitly state that a small carton of very cold heavy cream would need to be in the fridge in my dressing room, in addition to a pound of my coffee bean of choice.

Thanks to my father, I totally GET the utter importance of having one’s cup of java doctored to one’s exact preferences. And it makes total sense why he would get so understandably upset when he would forget to bring it to church.

“God BLESS it! I forgot the cream!” he would cry out in the car.

Diva or no diva, when it comes to coffee and conversation, I try to plan ahead. Thanksgiving, brunch at a friend’s house, or even church, should I someday join one. I’ll be the woman who states loud and clear, “I’ll bring the cream!”

Yeah Toast! and Other Trips Down Memory Lane

In the process of moving, we have been ardently striving to downsize our collection of STUFF that we’ve accumulated since childhood, adolescence, college, and then Young Adulthood. We’re not yet in the place where we are moving into a four-bedroom house with lots of extra storage space. This means prioritizing what gets to stay and what gets to go.

It’s actually escaping me whether I’ve ever shared how many times I moved when I was in New York City, but it was a LOT. Between 2005 and 2010, I moved six times to various neighborhoods around NYC. If you count the move from New York to Illinois, that’s seven. This is lucky move number eight in seven years. When you do the simple math, I’ve moved more than once per year since 2005. Yikes.

Considering my other half can’t stand moving – and I daresay it’s a toss-up whether he hates celery or moving more – we’re trying to make this move be the last one before we’re in a more permanent housing situation. But only time will tell.

While downsizing, I came across my cassette tape holder that I have had through all of my moves since 2005. It’s never occurred to me to go through it before now. I’ve just said, “That goes with,” and then it sits on a shelf or a desk or in a closet until the next move. Since I grew up with cassettes, I guess there is a sub-conscious part of me that never wanted to throw them away, so I never thought, “I should sort through these.”

Just as I was putting the tape holder in a box, all of the little drawers slid out. When I looked at the contents, none of these were critical for hanging onto any longer. I mean, it has probably been over a decade since I popped one into a tape player, even just for nostalgia purposes.

But before I put these little babies in their final resting place in a landfill far, far away, I thought I’d share some of the contents with you. There’s a small selfish motivation to this, if only because I’ll have this post to remind me what kinds of things I used to have on tape before CDs and then digital music came along.

What’s in Zoe’s tape deck?

The bulk of what I found were mix tapes. My tape collection began at a young age but the mix tapes are from the ages of 12-18, most likely (circa 1992-1998). I discovered at an early age the magic of recording on blank tapes. I even have tapes of myself pretending to be a radio DJ but those are elsewhere and are not being thrown away. (Guests included people like my brother.)

I had a CD player/stereo starting when I was 14 but the car I got at age 18 only had a cassette player, so until I put a CD changer in the trunk, I was jamming out to some mix tapes in the late 90s.

Some samples of songs on my mix tapes are: Silent All These Years by Tori Amos, Never Ever by All Saints (yeeeeah……), The Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel, Linger by The Cranberries, Beautiful Disaster by 311, Emotions by Mariah Carey, Vogue by Madonna, Hippychick by SoHo (hahaha remember that song?), Finally by Cece Peniston, Rollin’ With My Homies (nod to Clueless), I Love You Always Forever by Donna Lewis, Good Vibrations by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, something called “Yeah Toast!”, which apparently is something I recorded from the former St. Louis morning show Steve and D.C. and is now a YouTube video (see below), Machinehead by Bush, The Key, the Secret by Urban Cookie Collective, Daughter by Pearl Jam, Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root, Self-Esteem by The Offspring, Cantaloop by Flip Fantasia, Brain Stew by Green Day, Hello by POE, All That She Wants by Ace of Base, Rhythm Was a Dancer (by ??), Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio (only the coolest song everrrr), Time by Hootie and the Blowfish, Ironic by Alanis,  Santeria by Sublime, Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn, Faith by George Michael, and Toy Soldiers by Martika (what ever happened to her?).

Full albums I owned that make me chuckle are: The Simpsons Sing the Blues, Tom’s Album (which is just a bunch of takes on Suzanne Vega’s classic hit “Tom’s Diner,” an ALL-TIME favorite of mine), the soundtrack to the movie Straight Talk with Dolly Parton, Amy Grant’s “Heart in Motion, Johnny Mathis’s “Merry Christmas” album, and Mariah Carey’s original self-titled album.

I also found a bunch of nature sounds like Distant Thunder and Gentle Ocean, both from the store The Nature Company, which was eventually bought out by The Discovery Channel.  We had a Nature Company store in the Galleria in St. Louis. It was extremely popular in its heyday. I think there are only so many rainsticks and natural mineral stones people need, though. Anybody else remember that shop? I had the nature tapes because I liked to listen to them at night to help me go to sleep. Even now, I need some kind of white noise in order to get to sleep. Pure silence unnerves me.

Anyway, I had a few, “Oh…my…..GOD” moments while I was going through the tapes. I don’t remember recording much of the songs, though I do remember doing quite a few tape-to-tape and CD-to-tape mixes. All this reinforces is that music affects us from an earlier age than we can imagine. Quite a number of the songs on the tapes remain some of my favorites to this day, even for no other reason than I loved them on such a pure level when I was younger.

However, I’m still scratching my head over “Yeah Toast!”

Adolescence is such a bizarre time. I leave you with the skit to hear for yourselves.