Children jolt whole idea of peace cup of java

“Because I Said So” column for The Commercial Appeal

June 20, 2013

Children stir jolt of reality into midlife café dreams

I’m a fan of the show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” It boasts an elegant look and simple premise: Jerry Seinfeld and another comedian drive around in a nice car and then go for coffee. They talk, they share, they laugh; simple and funny.

What’s not so simple and funny? Kids in cars getting coffee. Though it sounds entertaining, children all hopped up on espressos and cappuccinos is more irritating than amusing. They run in circles, talk incessantly and eventually drop to the floor and quiver. People turn from their laptops to stare disapprovingly at such behavior.

The problem is that I love coffee shops. I love the café culture of sitting idly, reading and sipping a drink I didn’t make. I’ve spent loads of time at Otherlands, Bluff City Coffee, Poplar Perk’n, Republic Coffee and Café Eclectic. I have penned this very column over their brews.

And, to their credit, they’re all extremely kid- and family-friendly. So maybe it’s I who am not. I’ve found over the years that when you add a 2-, 3- or 6-year-old to the mix, what you get is a powerful concoction of caffeine, frothy milk and sugar spilled all over your book and the floor.

It’s not just sitting at a café table, either. The short ride there has become a time of disagreements and petty arguments. Being strapped in with seatbelts is not enough to keep them from picking at each other.

I’ve never seen Jerry Seinfeld with coffee on his pants. I’ve never seen him with any kids at all, come to think of it. He has three children of his own, but as the second season of his Web-only show begins, we’ve yet to see them. Neither does he drive a minivan with a busted side door and 100,000 miles on it, opting, instead, to chauffeur friends like Larry David and Alec Baldwin around in a 1970 Mercedes-Benz SL or a 1969 Jaguar E Type Series 2. You can’t even fit a car seat in those, which may be the point now that I think about it.

My life is not sitcom fodder; it’s real. In this reality I find myself attempting, more and more, to sneak out of the house alone. What does it say about me that my midlife crisis manifests itself in wanting a peaceful hour in a local coffee shop? There are no

dreams of a motorcycle or skydiving. My heart didn’t even leap at the sight of that sleek silver Jaguar rolling through Manhattan. What did Jerry Seinfeld long for during his crisis? He wanted to go get coffee with a friend. Maybe we’re not so different.

Don’t get me wrong: My kids have spent their fair share of time at Café Eclectic and Otherlands, but such outings aren’t as funny to me as they once were. We’ve turned a corner in my kids’ entertainment value, and there was an inviting coffee shop on that corner. They have reached the age of awareness, and they are aware now of white chocolate syrup, packets of raw sugar and doughnuts available all day.

You blend in that amount of sugar and caffeine with the normal, everyday insubordination and chatter I contend with, and not even Jerry Seinfeld could find the punch line.

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