Sunday, January 20, 2013

Coffee Grinder

Why is that certain memories recur? What is it that makes a memory so memorable? Last night when I was grinding coffee for this morning I thought once again of the Saturday night in January of 2005 when Michael Vick demolished the St. Louis Rams in the divisional playoff round and my Braun coffee grinder stopped working.

I've had the same coffee grinder since I was an undergraduate living with my girlfriend in a Berkeley railroad apartment. It has followed me throughout my adult life from West Coast to East Coast to the Lone Star and then back to the West. But that winter's night in January eight years ago it was on the fritz. I had the game on. Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn (a favorite of mine from when he carried the ball in the same Tampa Bay backfield with Mike Alstott) were running wild on the Georgia Dome turf (both ended up with more than a hundred yards). The game was a blow out. So I retired to the kitchen to repair the Braun.

I took the old coffee grinder apart beneath the bright light of a 100-watt incandescent bulb. I saw that a metal contact point had snapped and that's why nothing happened when I plugged it in. I probably broke it by repeatedly for the last twenty years slapping the side of the grinder with my palm to release the oily coffee grounds inside. I folded one contact under the other so they were constantly touching. This meant that the grinder blades would spin as long as the grinder was plugged in; the on-off button on the grinder lid no longer worked. I've used the grinder this way ever since. When I want to grind beans I fill the grinder, close the lid, plug it into the wall, and then unplug it when the beans are ground.

Now whenever I'm in the kitchen at night grinding coffee I always think of Michael Vick and that Atlanta playoff game against the Rams; Marc Bulger, too -- the quarterback who reached 1,000 completions faster than any other in NFL history -- filling consciousness from coast to coast for a moment in time and then forever after a memory recurring.

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