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Silly Memories, 1981 Edition

Sometimes you look back and wish you could explain to someone — share the insights that somehow managed to sneak up on you. In my case, it’s Doug (my ex) I’m tempted to explain to, but I know I’d just get a vague shoulder-shrug, so instead, I’ll explain it to the rest of the world.
That year, I fled my childhood home (at age 22, at least two years later than most of my peers) and moved in with my then-boyfriend. Setting up housekeeping was fun.  Well, most of the time.
One of the things he proposed buying was a coffee maker. I went out on my own, while he was at work, and purchased a stainless steel teakettle.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“You said to get a coffee maker. This has a whistle and everything!”
“But that’s a teakettle. We need a coffee maker.
“This makes coffee. It’s just like the one my parents have.”
This spurred him to drive us both to the local Discount Mart, where we bought whatever cheap, standard-issue coffee maker they had to offer.
I’d never seen one before. I carefully read the instructions and followed them, but didn’t like the taste of what came out. It didn’t taste like what we had at “home.” 
So I started tinkering with the proportions until I felt like it tasted like “real” coffee.  My ex came home, had a cup and declared it undrinkable.
“What the hell kind of coffee do your parents drink?” he demanded, probably thinking it was Turkish Espresso or something.
“I’ll go out and get some,” I replied, and the next day I did.
“See?” I said, showing him what I’d bought. “This is what we make with the teakettle. Tastes like REAL coffee.”
This was the only coffee I’d ever had (though, in the months to come, after securing an office job, I’d get some thorough schoolin’ on filters, brewing, and Taming the Wild Bunn). 
Why instant? Well, if you’d asked my dad, he’d have told you: You can’t trust coffee that comes out of a coffee maker. Because it doesn’t BOIL the water! Think of all the horrible microbes in that hot-but-not-boiled water! He knew what he was talking about because he’d seen numerous Army buddies succumb to miserable stomach and intestinal bugs as they slogged their way across Europe in World War II.

So you weren’t about to tell him that those wimpy putty-colored gurgling gadgets were putting out anything he’d be willing to drink or subject his family to, oh, nosir! Real coffee was the kind you boiled, and by “boiled,” he meant being able to see the bubbles in a glass carafe that sat on the stove, or hear confirmation via a whistle. He’d switched over from glass to stainless when I was young, because he noticed that the whistle amused me.
I’ve since learned all there is to know about how good, tasty coffee is made.
And whistling teakettles still make me feel good.


What a cute story! My in-laws always drank instant coffee too and we would always have to keep a supply of Taster's Choice in the cupboard for when they came to visit, as they didn't like the taste of our brewed coffee.

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