June 24, 2015's Weekly Slap:

“Beach Slapped” is what it is because from the moment I first came to the Oregon Coast, most every moment I lived here, and even my last hours here, it was always about the beach. That wasn’t always true of my life, and perhaps that’s been my problem.

Growing up in Colorado, I was a long way from the beach. I don’t care what anyone says, lounging next to a giant lake/ civic water supply is not the beach.

BartonGroverHowe.com:Where to keep up with humor writer Barton Grover Howe. Here, you'll find all of his Beach Slapped columns from The News-Times in Lincoln County, Oregon, excerpts from his latest books and the occasional random musing that would get him fired if he published it in a family newspaper.
An addiction is a terrible thing to waste
- October, 2005
I live by the maxim that every day is a good day, and that until something comes along to fundamentally foul it up, it will stay that way. It takes a lot in my universe to make it a bad day.

Today is a HORRIBLE day; I haven’t had any coffee.

For those of you in the Pacific Northwest that don’t drink coffee – I’m talking to both of you – this may not seem like a big deal. But I am a caffeine addict, and I think my head’s going to explode.

I have a blood test later today, and I’m not allowed to consume anything but water 12 hours prior to it. So, in the name of better health I have a headache, fuzzy vision and momentary tremors. I feel healthier already.

Unlike many people who are ashamed of their addictions, I am darn proud of mine. It has taken me months for a single shot of espresso not to affect me at all. I’m now up to eight or nine before I get a little giddy, and I’m shooting for 10. I could jump-start a fire truck if you hooked jumper cables up to my nipples. (Kids: don’t try this at home. And if you do, be sure not to reverse the poles.)

But there will be no jumper cables today. And while my nipples feel better (I reversed the poles) no other part of me does. Like running eggnog through a high-pressure steamer – my goodness, have you heard those things? - a  decade of addiction does not go quietly.

I got addicted to caffeine while working for Disney On Ice when I was a dog. (Really.)

Some people have a white-collar job, some people have a blue-collar job. I had a dog collar job. I worked very hard it, doggedly determined to be the best. Of course, it made dating hard, as every woman already knew I was a dog before we even had dinner.

And that’s as far as we’ll go with the dog puns; I care about you the reader.

But the job did make me dog-tired. (I lied.) It was my job to run around on all fours and then jump and bark on cue, as well as signal the approach of crabs, mermaids and hurricanes. (As I’m sure you guessed by now, I was in Disney’s modern classic, “Escape From Witch Mountain.”)

At one point we were doing three shows a day at times, up to 53 shows a month, and it was killing me. What got me through it was caffeine. Glorious, wonderous, caffeine. Using a Diet Coke-based delivery system (an I.V. wouldn’t fit in my luggage) I knocked back six cans a day. With it, I delivered remarkable performances for a chubby guy in his 30’s. The critics raved! “The dog is wonderful!” “A remarkable, high energy performance!” “Why does that sheep dog twitch like a Chihuahua!”

When the show closed, I kept it up. (Just the fact that I could no longer groom myself in public with my tongue was hard enough to walk away from.)  Admittedly I did slow down a bit in Colorado, where I was just as likely to pour my coffee down my pants to stay warm.

But eventually, I moved to Oregon, and my caffeine addiction never had a chance. I tried a 12-step program, but there’s a coffee shop here every 10 steps, so that didn’t work. I even got a job at a coffee shop so I could drink ridiculous amounts of caffeine for free.

(I would name this coffee shop, but as an ethical journalist I don’t feel it is my place to push one business over another. That, and this is one of the biggest companies on the face of the earth and with just a blink they could make me and my pets disappear from the face of the earth. Did I mention how much I LOVE working there?)

But thanks to “health,” I can’t even get my free drinks today, and my no good, horrible, very bad day continues, (with all due respect to Alexander who was probably also a caffeine addict.) Fortunately, there are just a few hours left, and then I can return to my caffeine-laced universe.

In the meantime, I’ll be gazing at one of my co-worker’s baked potatoes wondering what it would taste like sprinkled with Folgers Crystals.

I’ll let you know.

(Interesting post-script: It turns out you can have black coffee prior to a blood test. Why my co-workers at this newspaper misled me on this I will never know. I presume, however, it’s jealousy; I have more body hair than all of them put together.)