There are two things I am very passionate and serious about: my coffee and my dolls. Like an outspoken NRA advocate, I firmly believe that you’ll have to pry my fourth cup of coffee out of my cold, dead hands! Yep, I’ve always managed to tune out the naysayers in my office that would grouse about coffee being the root cause for all evil health issues: hypertension, high blood pressure, insomnia, indigestion, bad breath, bad ulcers . . . you get the picture!
So, imagine my discomfort when the airwaves were overstuffed this week with reports on how coffee is a killer—not a silent killer, mind you, but a deadly force that has been percolating on our stoves and in our Keurigs for decades.
Naturally, such a wide-sweeping proclamation makes for good radio and TV, and experts have had to backpedal from the original declaration, however. They are now maintaining that maybe it’s not the coffee that is the killer but rather the “coffee lifestyle”: people staring down deadlines, staying up late cranking out term papers, driving or flying long stretches at a time, and just generally forcing themselves to be hamster-like with fast-paced nocturnal behavior.
Though I’m not a public defender who is valiantly wading through mounds of evidence to free an unfairly imprisoned client, nor am I a pilot who is jetting across the Atlantic, with innocent souls in my hands, but I have been known to burn the midnight oil on occasion. And coffee has helped me to chug along!
When I was writing a couple of my doll books, I admit I was pulling many all-nighters, and my work schedule mirrored that of a procrastinating college student’s. I was up until the crack of dawn: just me, my laptop, and a pot of joe, and the Manhattan Transfer softly serenading in the background. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?)
Knowing I’m not alone in my appreciation of a good cup of java, I turned to the Internet to explore how coffee has been saluted by doll artists. I knew there have been waitress dolls, and, naturally, some of those dolls paid tribute to the most famous waitress of all: Mildred Pierce.
Fast with a plate of chicken and waffles, and willing to pour a third cup of coffee and chat, Mildred was a role model for working girls everywhere. Played by Joan Crawford, the intimidating actress wrung that part dry of every tear, every sob, and every emotional high and low. (If you haven’t seen this film, catch it on Turner Classic Movies or rent it. It is sheer camp heaven.) In fact, when Madame Alexander released its “Diner Diva” doll, the perky restaurant worker had a name tag that proclaimed “Mildred.”
After establishing her own franchise, Ms. Pierce becomes fabulously wealthy, and the richer, sleeker Mildred is captured by fabulous repaint artist, Noel Cruz. Certainly, Mildred’s ethic of hard work, customer service, and determination led to her rise. But I think so did her access to coffee all day long. Constantly pouring cups for the regulars, and matching them sip for sip, Mildred was primed to do something big.
Yes, for me the whole coffee experience is beyond just brewing some for myself. It’s also about meeting people for coffee and talking about past times and future plans. (Wasn’t that the premise that has kept “Friends” going for almost 20 years now—10 as a new show and 10 in syndication? God, that makes me feel old.) Hairstyle goddess and celebrity magazine staple Jennifer Aniston became famous playing Rachel, a waitress in a coffeehouse. In addition to her cute figure and girl-next-door face, Rachel was also very liberal with the refills. I think her connection to coffee helped to skyrocket her popularity.
Dolls and coffee have been explored by Mattel with Barbie herself donning a waitress uniform and pouring a pot, and Monster High has a coffeehouse play set aptly called “The Coffin Bean.” (Hmmm, I wonder if their designers got an early copy of the medical association’s report.)Hot coffee, iced coffee, coffee ice cream, or even coffee-flavored bubble gum, bring it on! I welcome it.
And apparently the doll artists of America also have enjoyed a thermos or two of coffee as they’ve dreamed up their designs and creations. I, for one, am thrilled.
In their honor, I think I’ll have a collectible coffee klatch!