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Acquiring a Taste (for life!)

Good Morning My Confidants

How art thou? I hope this inquiry findeth thee in great spirits! And most readily awaiting to lay seage to this new day!

But first, coffee!

Is coffee a part of your morning routine? Yes? Maybe? No? You can take it or leave it? You find it utterly delicious? You loathe it?

Funny thing about coffee. For some people it's instant love. For some people it's that first cup and they never drink another one as long as they live. I have a friend who hasn't had a cup in decades and doesn't plan on it and her husband needs it to begin his day. She has absolutely no desire whatsoever to try it again, despite hearing me wax poetic about it....

I understand.

It's an acquired taste.

And you know, there's a philosophy, or maybe not so much of a philosophy but a response, that if you have to "acquire" a taste for something, then why in the world would you want to do so? What's the point?

And I guess I can just say that it's how you approach the world. How you approach life.

For me it's always been that concept if I want to get what I can out of life. Not to say that coffee is so important part of that! That if you don't like coffee that you don't like life or that you don't like experiencing life or that you don't like exploring life. I'm not trying to say anything like that.

But I have friends who have never tried anything and they're a completely content that way. And that's fine. I have friends who have never in their lives, people in their 50s or 60s or 70s, who have never been outside a 100 mile radius of where they live. Not once. Never gone to Disneyland or Disney World and have no desire to. None. The photos they see the world, the movies, that's enough. That picture of Mount Rushmore or the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls are the Egyptian pyramids or the Taj Mahal, that's enough thank you.

I knew early on, very early on, but that was not the life for me. I'm too.... what's the word? Tactile? I not only want to see it, I want to smell it, I want to hear it, I want to touch it.

When I was in fourth grade I saw the movie "The Ten Commandments" for the first time. I don't know if that was like it was the first time it was on TV or something, I don't know. That would have been about 1970. For those of you have seen it, do you remember the scene where Ramses accuses Moses of conspiring with slaves and ranting about how he gave them a day off in seven and Seti, his adoptive father, is very upset....

And then! Then Moses rips these curtains aside, and we see below us the splendor of Egypt!

Oh. My. God!

I thought that my heart would explode! I could not believe what I was seeing. The city spread out. The colossal statues and temples! The glory of Egypt!

I was never the same and I knew that one day I would have to see Egypt for myself. And from that day forth I had to have books. I had to watch anything I could see, which was of course a lot harder back in those days, you didn't have a choice of anything you ever wanted to watch on cable. If we were in a museum and there was an Egyptian section it could take my parents forever to call me out of that area and to look somewhere else. In a Chicago museum there's an exhibit will you get to walk through it but they have these plastiglass panels over the walls so you can't touch them. I thought I was going to lose my mind.

And then finally one day it happened.

I got to go to Egypt.

We were only there for three days, we couldn't get the old people to do the full week, so we didn't get to go to the Valley of the Kings. But we were in Cairo. I saw the Sphinx. She took my heart away. There's absolutely no explaining the difference between seeing that statue in a picture or on a TV show and seeing her right there before you, smaller and bigger at the same time that I ever imagined. And I saw the pyramids! I went inside one of them.

And then my frustration. Oh, my goodness, here's a story.....

So, there's all these small tombs outside the pyramid. Presumably the family of these great Kings. I commonly think of them as apartments, all clustered right up against each other. Each one not much bigger than a typical household bathroom. They were empty, but at one time probably there was a coffin in each one. From the outside they were very boring looking, unpresuming, a sort of dun color. Inside they were absolutely gorgeous. The colors were amazing. Lots of blues, reds and golds, the ruddy sort of Native American skin tones for the actual people. Lots of hieroglyphics. And there I was. And they were right there in front of me, so similar to that trip in that Chicago museum, but no plastic in front of them!

I was seeing it, believe it or not I was smelling it, and now it was time to touch. I had dreamed of touching those walls for twenty plus years. I was lifting my hand.

And that's when the guy told us that we couldn't touch them. We could look, but we could not touch. She explained why. It made total sense. If every tourist touched those walls, with the thousands upon thousands of tourists they go to Egypt, they would be no pain left on the walls. The very oils in people's hands, their fingertips, would wear them away.

I grew faint. Tears weld up in my eyes. The walls there, right there in front of me, and I couldn't touch.

And then I caught the eyes of my spouse, the man I was with at that time, and he did something absolutely amazing. No matter the bad things that he did in the years to follow, I will never forget what he did.

He gave me a slight nod, and suddenly started asking the guide all these questions and led her outside the tomb, and then I was alone in that small square beautiful room.

This part of the story will greatly upset some people. All those people who totally understand, like I did, why you should not touch that wall. Rule followers, those of you whose peace and well-being lay on the following of rules, will be horrified. Maybe you should stop reading?

Some of you will understand.

I went to one wall, wiped my hand on my pants, took a deep breath, and very slowly, and very reverently, reached out and lightly lay my hand, really just my fingertips, against that wall.

And now something I have rarely told. Those of you who made it this far are going to hear something that you probably won't believe.....

This little shock shot at my fingers up my arm the end of my chest. Similar to, oh, like a small battery? I don't even know if it was is when you accidentally touch exposed copper wiring in an extension cord? It wasn't that bad. It wasn't bad really at all.

But it was very very real.

And then, oh my god, right there in front of me I saw a man. It was as if the wall in front of me was glass and he was on the other side. He was that same ready color as the people on the walls, and he had black hair, no shirt, white skirt. In one hand he had a small palette with little globs of paint and some kind of tool in his hand and he was leaning forward and painting! He had kohl around his eyes and they went shockingly wide and he looked at me! He looked at me and I looked at him and then he was GONE.

I staggered back, I was faint for a moment, and then left the tomb and joined the others.

It was not long after that I became convinced of something. This is witchy-woo-woo! But I'm convinced I was looking at the man who originally painted that tomb wall, and that he was me.

No, I doubt many of you believe this. Especially the whole he-was-me-and-I-was-him-thing, and that I had somehow, against astronomical odds, wandered into a place where I and some previous life had painted the very wall that I had touched.

I don't blame you if you think that's crazy.

But one of my real points is, I had to touch it. I saw it, I smelled it, I could hear the breeze outside, and I HAD to touch it. I was compelled. It was my one and only opportunity to do this, and if I didn't do it in that moment, I would never have a chance again. And part of what makes me, me, is that I have to have the experience. A photo wasn't enough. Watching some documentary wasn't enough. Watching "The Ten Commandments" wasn't enough. Even the amazing experience of actually being there wasn't enough. I had to have the tactile. It was REAL.

And the rest? Who knows? I know what I know what I know happened. I don't know what other explanation there could be. I wasn't doing any drugs. I have a wild imagination, but come on! I had an experience that for me at least is unexplainable. And it would not have happened had I not touched that wall.

And the other thing that would have happened had I not touched that wall is that I would have gotten the rest of my life knowing I had not touched that wall!

I love life. I love experiencing life. There are things that I simply cannot do, like my brother who frequently goes on week-long treks out into the wilderness with nothing but body can carry in a pack on his back. The beauty he has seen is unimaginable. And I can do nature! But Daddy don't poop in the woods. Not if he can help it. Even if I am a bear.

He's been to Machu Picchu! You have to hike up there, they can't drive you. He's really experiencing incredible things myself.

But there is sure a whole lot of other things I can do, and I do them. When birthday Noah took me zip lining. It was scary as hell, but exhilarating!

And what does all of that have to do with coffee and or acquiring a taste?

I guess it's kind of hard to explain. You know, you can try something, and decide you don't like it, and it's either no need to ever try it again. And that's cool. I have no problem with that. For you that is. I do have a problem with it for me.

Because I have noticed, I have experienced I should say, that you can actually acquire a taste for something. Like the first time I had gin I spit it out. I wish I hadn't. It was really childish. The point is I did not like that juniper berry flavor and a lot of people don't.

But one of my dearest friends is a gin drinker and she made me one of her gin and tonics which has a lot of lime in it. I sipped at it. And begin to notice the little flavor notes. The interesting effect on my tongue. The tingle. I noticed that as it went down it had one flavor and is it lingered across my taste buds it had another, and aftertaste. And I realized it was really refreshing. It was an experience. And suddenly I was a gin and tonic fan. And not too long after that, I discovered gin martinis. Very clean, frigid cold, with only the slightest kiss of vermouth. Sometimes just sort of waving the open bottle over the glass. And oh my God, I was loving something that I once to spit out!

What the hell???

I used to really despise whiskey. Now I find it exquisite. And something else I've noticed, and it's not bullshit, often the more expensive, the better it is.

If you are one for not needing to acquire a taste because there's just plenty out there for you to drink or eat or experience without acquiring a new one, that's okay.

That's just not for me. I used to not understand how it is that people would not want to experience what I was experiencing, but is the years have gone by I've come to understand more and more and more just how truly different we all are and how really cool it is.

I mean there's people out there that love tarantulas. Not me. And I have no interest whatsoever and acquiring a taste for it. One of those little sons of bitches is not touching me! EVER!

When we were in Gatlinburg there is this glass Bridge that crosses this deep valley and there's people who walk across that thing, and it was not going to be me. I think the boys would have done it, and I told them that they could, but not me. Ain't happening. No interest. None. Zip lining was enough for me, and it took me a little while to be able to do that. Luckily by the time we finished I was enjoying it. I didn't miss out.

For me, acquiring a taste for something gives me an exquisite experience where I am simply enjoying to the utmost one of the senses that God gave me. That the Universe gave me. That evolution gave me.

And I do not know how much time I have on this Earth. But I truly figured out that for me, 100%, I would rather regret what I have done than what I have not done.

I went pretty wild in my thirties. I was a pretty.... naughty boy. And I LOVED every bit of it. I don't have to read erotic tales. I did them. No regret. I could tell you stories that some of you would need a fainting couch for. And I seriously doubt any of you are ever going to hear any of them. At least under my name.

When I was growing up a few times I tried coffee I thought it was pretty nasty unless I added a lot of cream and sugar. That was pretty tasty. But otherwise, all I can think of it was as bitter and burnt tasting and why would anyone want to drink such a thing?

But now that I'm a coffee snob, and I only drink really good coffees, beans that were roasted in the last week and ground sometimes only moments before I made the cup? Or the cup was made for me? Viva la difference!

I don't know how much time I have left, but I'm going to cram living into it. And I've wasted a lot of time the last few years sitting around all day long watching Netflix. And bit by bit I'm experiencing life again.

Sometimes it's a simple as what my day is going to be like today. I'm going to go out for coffee with a dear friend and catch up with her. This evening I'm going over to another dear friend's house and we're going to watch horror movies! The movie equivalent of an exciting roller coaster ride with the knowledge that nothing can hurt me.

Simple things. But better than sitting at home in the dark watching Netflix.

And while I'm out with my friend this morning this morning having coffee, I'm going to remember to EXPERIENCE that coffee. To take it in slowly, to let it wash over my taste buds, to detect the different flavor nuts, to slowly swallow it down, and catch the aftertaste.

Life is too short to drink shitty coffee.

I don't want to play life safe. I don't play in traffic, I don't tightrope between two skyscrapers, but at the same time, what is life contained within a 100 mile radius of where I live?

If that was my life, I would have never touched the wall of an Egyptian tomb.

And whether that man I saw was actually me or not, because that would mean there's something called reincarnation and I'm still agnostic about that, I had an experience I would have never had it home watching Netflix.

All right, I'm done for today. Long ramble, right? I'm going to post this without checking for mistakes, so if you see something that doesn't make any sense and you want to send me a little text, you're welcome to. It won't bother me.

Anyway, I hope you have a terrific day I plan on it. Who knows what's going to happen?

Isn't that exciting?


BG "Gentle Ben" Thomas

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