Sunday, January 17, 2010

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The Badass Coffee Shop

We drove 45 minutes from Provo to Salt Lake to find the Badass Coffee Shop. I was fifteen. Ryan, my older brother, was driving. This was the most rebellious thing I had ever done. Mormons do not drink coffee. It is a sin. The Word of Wisdom was given to Joseph Smith in 1833. It was a revelation from God advising members of the Mormon faith to abstain from alcohol, tobacco and hot beverages. Religious leaders translated hot beverages to mean coffee and tea. The Word of Wisdom is one of the defining characteristics of being Mormon. It is what makes us such dorks. Instead of tasting wine we taste root beer. Rather than getting drunk at Christmas parties we put together puzzles of the Salt Lake Temple. Employers love us because we do not take smoke breaks or come in to work hung over. We are those by-the-book assholes that people love to hate.

It was 11:30 at night. Ryan did not have an in dash CD player, so he hooked his Discman into the tape deck with an adapter he purchased at Radio Shack. We were listing to Jimmy Buffet. He was eighteen and slender; his hair was bowl cut and parted to the side. The seats in the Chrysler were blue and the headlights were off balance. Ryan’s glasses reflected the oncoming traffic. He bobbed his head and then stopped to straighten his part.

Mormon men are advised to trim their hair above the ears and to be clean-shaven. Clothing should be modest and non-threatening. Members should be honest, live a chaste and virtuous life, use clean language, respect others and live their lives in harmony with the Lord’s teachings. My hair was tidy, it’s natural color, and parted to the side. The clothing I wore was not baggy, or tight, but fit properly. The button of my jeans rested on my navel. When bad things happened I prayed. When good things happened I prayed. I prayed for the spirit of the Lord to reside in my home, for better grades, and to meet Mr. Bean. Jesus was my homeboy. I lived with my grandmother and we went to church for three hours every Sunday. Before the coffee run, the worst thing I had ever done was jack off to a Playboy. Mormonism did not make me feel cool.

Ryan had recently begun attending Weber State University in Ogden. A year before he left for college he lost sixty pounds. About a month into his first semester he called. His breath was heavy on the phone but his voice was soft.  He told me he had just had sex. That it had been amazing and glorious. He was now a man. Before I could respond he said, “She’s coming out of the bathroom,” and hung up. I should have been thrilled to be the first person he called, but instead I was shocked by the information.

Before he left for Ogden, Ryan was an Eagle Scout with intentions of serving a two-year Mormon mission. He did not smoke, drink, or watch rated R movies. His language was clean and he read scriptures nightly. Photos of LDS prophets adorned his bedroom and he started many conversations with “I prayed for you last night.” He was a dork among Mormons. That’s like a Star Trek fan at a Star Wars convention. Yes, we had spent time together watching movies or swimming in Provo River. We even shared friends but had people in Provo not known that Ryan was my brother, I never would have claimed him.

Sex changed Ryan. For the first time in his life he was cool, rebellious, and experienced. The change was subtle. He still tucked in his t-shirts and said crap instead of shit. But he claimed to drink coffee and knew what it felt like to smash his face between a woman’s breasts. He spoke assertively, walked confidently, and occasionally sported a Hawaiian shirt. For the first time I wanted to be Ryan. We are told to be part of the world, but not of the world. Mormons are to function in society, but not to give in to the temptations of the people around us. But Ryan had tasted the world; he had experienced life outside of Mormonism and it had turned him from dork to cool. This is why, despite my fears of eternal damnation, I agreed to have coffee with Ryan.

We pulled off the freeway and onto State Street in Salt Lake. Ryan told me that coffee was going to blow my mind. We were driving to The Badass Coffee shop because, as far as we knew, there were no coffee shops in Provo.  The only places that served coffee were gas stations and pancake houses. Coffee was treated like a controlled substance and I was under the assumption that it was. Sunday school lessons on the evils of tobacco and alcohol also include coffee. I lumped them all into the same category.

We pulled into the coffee shop; a large donkey wearing a sombrero was mounted to the roof.

 I asked Ryan if they would ID us. He laughed and pulled up to the drive through window.  It was dark inside. They closed at 11pm.

            Ryan got angry and banged his hand against the steering wheel. “What a bunch of crap,” he said. Coffee shops in Utah were in the same class as bars. How could they close at 11?

            We drove to a Chevron. Ryan walked to the back of the gas station, his pants were high; the seam was seated in his crack. We each poured a cup of coffee. Ryan told me he had tried it before, that this was not his first time. But I could tell by the way his hand shook, by the way he cracked the Styrofoam cup with his grip that this was his first cup of joe. We did not add sugar or cream because we did not know that we were supposed to. Steam rose from the cups and I sniffed the black liquid with suspicion. “This is going to kick butt,” Ryan said.

            Ryan and I walked out to the car, our cups without lids. Ryan sipped first. His cheeks puckered as the black coffee rolled down. He gagged a little. “Oh,” he said, “that’s good.”

            The cup was warm in my hand. The liquid swirled and small tan bubbles floated on top. “Go ahead,” Ryan said. “Try it.”

            I placed the cup to my lips and sipped. It tasted like bitter crap. I know Ryan felt the same way because he continued to gag each time he drank. But we both consumed the coffee. Perhaps we did this because we assumed that with time it would taste better and if we kept drinking we would eventually understand what everyone else enjoyed about coffee. Or maybe it was because we drove 45 minutes to commit a sin and backing out would have made us feel like failures. Either way, I could only choke down half the cup. 

1 comments:

Ty n Casey's Mom said...

LMAO!!! My favorite line, "despite my fears of eternal damnation, I agreed to have coffee with Ryan." My sides hurt!!!!