My eyes shifted nervously from person to person, and their judgmental eyes stared back. I was sitting on the recliner in our living room, but at that moment it was the hot seat. My wife Trisha and her sister Sarah sat across from me on the couch.
“Tom, I think you know what we want to talk about,” said Sarah.
“I have no idea,” I replied nervously. My hands were fidgety. If I had caused some sort of problem, I didn’t know what it was.
“Tom, you’re an addict,” Sarah continued. “You have problem.”
“I don’t have a problem,” I replied.
“Oh, God!” cried Trisha. She buried her face in Sarah’s lap and sobbed loudly.
“Do you see what you’re doing?” Sarah asked, calmly. “Do you see how your addiction is ruining the relationship you have with your wife?”
“Addiction?” I said, flabbergasted. “I don’t have an addiction.”
Trisha tried to speak, but her words came out as an incoherent, high pitched babble. When she was done, she again dove her face into Sarah’s lap with agonizing wails to follow.
“What my sister is trying to say is, Tom, you need help,” Sarah said.
“I have no idea what you guys are talking about. The game’s about to start so if we can get to the point.” I was actually finding this entire situation quite ridiculous. I didn’t have an addiction. My life consisted of three things: family, job, and the occasional cup of coffee in between.
Trisha tugged at Sarah’s shirt and uttered a barely audible whisper. “H-he’s in d-denial.”
“I know, baby, I know,” Sarah told her. She brushed my wife’s hair with her hand. Then, her attention returned to me. “What happened yesterday, Tom?”
“I don’t know,” I answered. “Work and then home like usual.”
“And what did you do before work?”
“I took Matt and the three other kids in our carpool to school.”
“Uh huh. And what time did they get to school?”
“Well, they were a couple of minutes late.” I didn’t know why Sarah was bringing this up, but I hadn’t realized that Trisha had been this upset about the incident.
“And why were they a couple of minutes late?”
“Well I was already running late, and then I had to stop off at Starbucks for a cup of coffee.”
“Ah, yes. Finally we get to the root of the problem.”
“Can’t you see, Tom?” Sarah asked. “You’re addicted to coffee!”
“What?” I asked again. “No I’m not!”
“Liar!” my wife screamed. She got up, knelt in front of me, and beat her fists into my chest. “Liar, liar, liar!”
“Baby, calm down.” I tried to hug her, but she pushed me away and slapped me in the face.
“I don’t even know you anymore,” she said with a look of disgust. “You’re not my husband. You’re somebody else. Every morning it’s coffee, Coffee, COFFEE! I can’t live like this any more!”
“You’re both acting crazy right now…”
“Then tell me, Tom,” Sarah spoke up. “What’s the first thing you think about in the morning?”
“My morning cup of coffee…”
“That’s right! Not your son. Not your wife. You’re thinking about your precious coffee.”
“Oh,” I said slowly. “I didn’t realize it was such a problem…”
“Well that’s why we’re here,” Sarah said with finality.
“Please, Tom,” my wife begged. “Please just listen to what we have to say.”
“We just want you to maybe think of other ways to replace this addiction,” Sarah suggested. “Maybe with something a little more productive so you could kick this ailment.”
“Like what?” I was getting exasperated. The conversation was beyond the point of idiocy.
“I don’t know, like alcohol.”
“You want me to give up coffee and turn to booze,” I said, flatly.
“I think you’re missing the point, Tom,” Sarah replied, unamused. “It could be anything. There are a number of things you could do: Gambling.”
“That’s perfect with Matthew here…”
“Coffee smells better.”
“Yeah, what a great ide — Wait, what?”
“A lot of people with addictions turn to sex,” Sarah explained. “It relieves a lot of stress and can be a healthy distraction for those in withdrawal.”
“Please, Tom,” Trisha begged. “Both Sarah and I want to be there for you.”
“Both of you?” I looked into Sarah’s honest eyes, and then turned to my wife’s pleading eyes.
“We’re here for you, Tom,” Sarah said. “In every way that you need us.”
A grin spread across my face. “Please help me.”
Ian Shippen is lost in thought 90% of his life. He can make anyone laugh if he tries, but he never has to try because he’s just naturally goofy. He likes to read. He loves to write. He hopes you enjoy this story!