The Basement Files: The longest night…or where’s my caffeine and cigars

Chris Hamble, Gazette Columnist

As I record my thoughts on what should be one of the longest “overnights” in recent memory, I do so to retain my sanity, concentration, focus and myself. I knew this was coming. Part of it anyway, but I chose to do nothing about it. My lackadaisical attitude has come back to haunt me, as I have been told it would. But to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered to listen. I had better things to do, more important things to do, but now, now I stare into the abyss, and the abyss stares back. The abyss that is my refrigerator.
I’m out of pop. Not “soda,” as some from the south would say, but pop. It’s the sweet nectar that brings me my caffeine during the hours when business stops and bad TV and video games begin. I could go, of course, and replenish my reserves of the bubbly brown burp-inducers, but the sun has started to set, and, as I’ve said before, I’m just too lazy to go out and get more. Especially when “shopping day” is Friday. But it is early, and the caffeine withdrawal symptoms haven’t hit yet (which, for the three avid readers out there, I’ve thoroughly covered in the past). So I think I’ll indulge on my other addiction while I can still see straight.
Alas, my humidor is empty. It is a dagger to my soul. The sun has set, and if I so much as set foot outside without the smoke screen my favorite cigar provides, I’ll be eaten alive. Curses. How could I let this lapse? Sure, I may be poor, underpaid and overripe, but I always found a way to keep a stogie or two on hand for an emergency. But alas, I already had my emergency cigar earlier today. My short-term memory is fading. The caffeine curse hit sooner than I thought. I need some food. Let me grab some bologna. That’s gone, too? Blasphemy.
Tricking my brain with nicotine and nutrients is out, I suppose. And with my focus fading fast. I need to kick start my cortex. I need to stop typing so many ellipses and start playing video games, preferably baseball.
Yes, the baseball video game, where armchair managers like myself can put our virtual money where our mouth is. This, on a normal night, would provide me with up to eight hours of distraction, when I could be doing something productive, or, doing what the rest of the country is doing, and going to sleep. But this is no time for sleep. This is midnight and my concentration is fading fast.
As I sit and watch an entire inning transpire without input from myself, I decide it is better off that I not “play” anymore, and shut down the PS3. With the weather radio in the background, I have been tracking the weather events afoot. Tracking storms, this will provide the distraction I am looking for. But no, the MPX weather radar is down, and will not be up the rest of the night. But there is weather afoot. Alas, the headache has set in, and this couch is feeling more and more comfortable.
Roughly four hours pass. You forget how bad early morning TV is until it is your only escape from the grip of a craving for caffeine. I know there is a clock on the guide on my TV, but really, does it matter what time it is? I’ve seen the same episode of ESPN “SportsCenter” three times now, and have become less impressed with the top plays on every viewing.
This looks like the end my friends. I’m going to fall asleep in the midst of a caffeine withdrawal and will wake up in the throws of a caffeine hangover. It will be a rough day today.
But I; wait, what is that? Grinding? Dripping? It’s a sweet, robust aroma billowing through the house? Someone made coffee. Oh, what a glorious day. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a cup or two, then hit the hay.
Chris Hamble is a freelance writer and humor columnist serving newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is a lifelong Stillwater resident.

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