I thought, I really did, that I was probably addicted to Altoids Ginger Mints. Classic signs of addiction – increasing tolerance, increasing use, and, after they stopped carrying them at Target, a serious concern about where the next one was coming from. When the last local supply outpost, Rite-Aid, has a 2-for-1 sale on my precious gingers, I go up to the counter with an inexplicable dozen boxes of them balanced in my arms, almost certainly setting off the kinds of alarm bells that made them put Sudafed out of reach and leading authorities to wonder if there is some new kind of ginger-based high out there. A dozen boxes seems to be the number at the balancing point between getting a supply that will last me a few weeks and becoming dangerously obsessed with maintaining my stash. This has been going on for a couple of years now, but I thought as long as I kept it down to just a few, or a couple dozen, gingers a day, I’d be all right.
Then I ran out just a few weeks ago, or at least became dangerously low. There were a handful left in the kitchen cupboard, none at all in my truck, and I didn’t want to raid the box my daughter keeps in her dance bag in case of vertigo. But Rite-Aid stubbornly refused to run its usually monthly twofer sale, and I stubbornly refused to pony up $2 a box for something that would soon be half that. And so I ran out. And you know what? It was all right. I was fine. I got through the day, each day, without any ginger Altoids at all. Then I ordered a case of them from Amazon for Christmas, and I’ve got that ginger monkey on my back again. But now I know I can quit.
Coffee, however, may be another thing. I have from time to time stopped drinking coffee for a few days at a time, usually when I’ve been sick or camping, and, again, the world has not ended. But in the midst of the recent ice storm, when the power was out, the temperature was dropping, and the only thing we could reasonably do in our house was use the stove and make coffee, glorious coffee, I was reduced to grinding my coffee with a mortar and pestle, and believe me, I did it. Not well, but I did it. And then I started wondering if I should drive out to the grocery store and get some ground beans, a concept that would normally be anathema to me, interfering as it does with my complicated decades-old ritual for preparing my works. Turned out I wanted it bad enough to grind it by hand, but not bad enough to drive out in the ice for the pre-ground stuff. So I figure I’m okay there, too. Right?