Inspired by watching the new movie Coffee and Cigarettes, I thought I’d share a personal coffee tale:
Several years ago I was having a cup of java at Peet’s coffeehouse, right next door to the theater where I was performing that night in the courtroom drama, Nuts.
Now, Peet’s coffee is strong—good, but very strong. It’s like the Red Bull of coffee. But at the time, I didn’t realize that yet. And besides, after a long day at work, I figured I could use a little caffeine boost before going on stage. The operative word being little.
Well, high-grade caffeine works in mysterious ways. It didn’t hit me right away. Apparently, it took the scenic route on the way to my central nervous system. So in the meantime, I leisurely made my way backstage, put on my judge’s robe, and proceeded to relax . . . by drinking more of this delicious high-octane coffee.
Now as the judge in this rather intense play, it was my job to sit high on my bench at center stage with an air of authority and calmness (as opposed to panic).
Well, it was during the last scene of the first act that the caffeine rush hit me. And it hit me as if I’d just ordered it intravenously.
Needless to say, I was in deep coffee beans. Yes, indeed. My heart rate accelerated, the stage started spinning round and round, and streams of sweat poured down the palms of my hands. Yes, folks, I was having a full blown caffeine-fueled panic attack in the middle of a live performance.
“Okay,” I thought, “Here’s the situation, I don’t think I’m going to make it to the end of this act.” So I started writing a note to the actor playing the court officer. It read: “I am having a big problem. Go tell the stage manager to bring down the lights.”
I looked at my note for a moment and then corrected it: “I am having a big medical problem.” I looked at it again and thought, “I don’t like the word big, scratch that.” Then after my third rewrite (and yes, I still had to keep up with my cues and lines), it occurred to me that maybe I can get through this if I just concentrate on perfecting my SOS message.
And to my amazement, that’s how I got through it—one panicky word at a time.
And the moral? Coffee and Nuts don’t mix.