Cream and Sugar?

Did we save any room for dessert?

The young lady waiting on our table clears away the dishes, while asking the question.  I wonder a moment if she is including herself in the query, but it is clear she uses the word we to avoid any hint of accusation that we would have stuffed ourselves while eating our meal.

We did, in fact, save room for dessert on this occasion and we tell her what we would like.  To carry on the charade of not being gluttons, we will share the giant-sized portion of the brownie sundae.

I want a cup of coffee and tell the young lady so.  She writes a note on her pad and asks if I’d like cream and sugar with it.  I don’t.

I never did.

That is changing, though.  I’m remembering that my mother always liked a little evaporated milk and a spoonful of sugar in hers.  I have wondered why that was.

On a recent visit to the grocery store with the Lovely Lady, I suggested we buy a container of flavored creamer.  Italian Cream.  You know—for our daughter and her husband, when they came to visit.  And to satisfy my curiosity.


Can I tell you a secret?  I drink coffee—the habit of many years, but it’s not my favorite flavor.  Oh, the slightly bitter taste is palatable, but I can’t drink it very quickly.  I sit and nurse a cup for an hour.  By the time I’m ready for another, the dregs in my cup are cold and I toss the useless liquid into the sink before pouring my next cup.

On that fateful day we arrived home with the flavored creamer in our grocery box, I wasn’t all that hopeful.  Cream was for wimps.  

May I say it again?  Wow!

I poured a little into the bottom my cup and filled it up with coffee.  Ten minutes later, I was back for another cup.  

Ten minutes.

She’s still buying the creamer at the grocery store.  Two bottles last week.  I refuse to look at the calorie count on the label. 

espresso-833565_1920I still get that old familiar coffee flavor in my cup.  Only now, it’s a smooth, mellow flavor.  The bitterness is not evident at all.  And the sweetness?  I love sweet things.  

Now I can drink so much more!

What do you mean, I shouldn’t do that?  It tastes great!  Smooth and sweet—how could that be bad?

The realization was a real wake-up call.  No.  Literally.  

A wake-up call.

On a recent night, as I sat and wrote into the wee hours of the morning, I consumed five cups.  Five.

I lay on my bed and stared into the darkness until daylight.  

Did you know that, even though the tan-colored liquid in my cup tastes so much better and goes down more smoothly, it’s still coffee?

It’s still coffee.  With caffeine.  And acid.

Did you also know that there is more to talk about here than just coffee?  

I’m a little embarrassed to admit my little affair with the coffee creamer to you anyway.  But, not nearly as embarrassed as I would be if I had to admit all the other lies I tell myself everyday.

I’m not gossiping.  I’m sharing concerns.  We can pray for them, too.

I’m not really a glutton.  I’ll run an extra mile to make up for it later.

It’s not actually a lie.  I’m really just bending the truth a little.  It’s for his own good anyway.

It’s not really envy.  I simply need to work a few extra hours each week, so I can have the same nice things my neighbor has.

These are only the tip of the iceberg.  In so many ways, I twist the truth and present myself in just the light I want you to see me.  The creamy brown sweetness is so much more appealing than the bitter, blackness of my heart.

Pour all the milk and sugar in you want.  It’s still coffee in the cup.

Put pumpkin flavoring in it with the milk and call it pumpkin spice latté.

It’s still coffee.

And, it still keeps me awake at night.




The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
(Jeremiah 17:9 ~ NASB)


For a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,
The medicine go down, the medicine go down—
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way.
(from Mary Poppins ~ Robert/Richard Sherman ~ American songwriters)






© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved. 

3 thoughts on “Cream and Sugar?

  1. Loved this. I don’t drink coffee, but as a child we would go upstairs to where Grandma and Grandpa lived and she would ask my brother and I if we had eaten, “No,” we’d lie. Why? Because it meant we would get a second breakfast. Fresh bread with a piece of Feta cheese and a large almost white cup of coffee laden with sugar. I hate coffee, except for Grandma’s. Love the smell though. Love the smell. Thanks for the post.

    1. Thanks, Anne! I love it when stories trigger good memories for a reader. I remember breakfast at my Grandma’s too. No coffee, but orange juice in the old green “oatmeal glass” tumblers. A vivid memory that always brings a smile to my heart. I sure enjoy your comments!

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