Saturday, July 24, 2010

George Washington Drank Here

Mount Vernon Sept. 29th 1770
Sir, In return for the Herrings, (which will be shipped as a joint stock by Mr Campbell & myself) you will please to bring me the following Articles, vizt 1 Hogshead of good rum. 1 Barrel of good Spirits. 200 lb. of Coffee. 100 lb. of best single refined Sugar. 100 lb. of—double Do & 100 or 200 Oranges if to be had good. The balance of my half of the sales of the herrings you will please to bring me in Cash, & of such kinds as will pass here without loss. I wish you a pleasant & prosperous voyage, & safe return to your Owners and Friends.
I am Sir Your very humble Servant
G. Washington

George Washington... a bean freak. Whodathunkit? I wonder if - when he crawled out of his tent in the morning, surveyed the troops, and began to think about his day - I wonder if he did as I do. I wonder if he yawned loudly, wiped gunk out of his eyes, and muttered, "I'm gonna need some bean. Strong bean." I can't quite picture it, but... he had to have thought something similar at least.

I have a mental image of him looking at a huge haul of herring. Perhaps he thought, "How much fucking herring can we stand?!" (Did GW say fuck? I think so.) But, back to George, thinking, "What am I going to do with all this damned fish?!" I'm sure he (or the good Mr. Campbell) brined it, or smoked it, or both. It wasn't as if he needed to worry about it going bad. Still... so much fuh... okay, okay... so much herring. "Ahhhh! Aha!" thought George. "I'll trade it. I'll barter with Capt. Whats-His-Face and get a new musket out of the deal. Wait! No... better yet... booze, that's the ticket... ahhh... and some good bean."

You know as well as I do that that's exactly how it went down. I mean, herring is nothing if not a decent bartering platform, am I right? And an army can probably manage without herring, but without coffee? Fie! No General in his right mind would even try.

An army marches on its bean. I know. I'm an army of one, and my day doesn't begin without it. Back when I still put stock in such things, I once gave up coffee for Lent. Longest 40 days of my life, I swear. I was nuts to commit to that. And what did I learn through my great sacrifice? Well... for one, I learned that I couldn't trust myself to make a proper decision about such things. I also learned that I can, when utterly pressed, curb the urge to destroy things when I'm under duress. Finally, I learned... I learned that I wanted, more than anything, I wanted a goddamned cup of coffee! Take my herrings... please! Just give me some coffee!

I'm an addict, a bean addict. I'll admit to that. But, y'know what? Suddenly I don't feel so badly about my proclivity toward the dark murky stuff. Clearly it was good enough for our Founding Father. Who am I to quibble with George Washington, or Henry Ward Beecher? It's good enough for me. Bean, yes, the deep luscious steaming crude that is coffee.

A cup of coffee - real coffee - home-browned, home ground, home made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfectly sweet, neither lumpy nor frothing on the Java: such a cup of coffee is a match for twenty blue devils and will exorcise them all.
~Henry Ward Beecher

I'll have what he's having! My twenty blue devils can just sod off.

The Original "Bean" Note Written by George Washington in 1770


  1. I heard this piece on NPR this morning: Also, when some co-workers did Weight Watchers, they did point calculations for everyone in the office....and when they asked how I drank my coffee...I told them with murder in my eyes that coffee and how I drank it was non-negotiable and if they wanted raises, nay jobs...they'd leave the boss lady's coffee alone and unchanged , half & half with real white azucar.

  2. tee hee about the lessons learned from giving bean up for lent. :) i say give you some more bean so you can give us some more awesome art & writing! :) bean away!

  3. "...with murder in my eyes..." I love that Lisa!

    Marina, I often say that if it wasn't for caffeine, I'd have no personality at all.


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