A young man and his cup of coffee

Some of the traveling for my part-time gig involves staying in hotels. And recently I have become enamored with the one-cup coffee makers often found in my room.

Such machines have been sold for some time but have really caught on, despite what ultimately becomes a steep price for one cup of coffee at a time. The Keurig “K-Cup” is not just a brewer but a coffee “brewing system.” Green coffee beans are packed into the plastic container and brewed as a cup of Joe once overrun with hot water. That it is such labeled as a system no doubt contributes to it $100-plus price tags.

The one-cup machines I have frequently used when in hotels contain a packet or pouch that can be laid into the brewing holder and water is poured into a reservoir inside the brewer.

Since I frequent stores as part of my job I have been looking for one-cup brewers. Alas, I had only found those cheaper than $80 to $100-something until yesterday.

Inside a store that I am forbidden to identify I found a Kitchen Selective brewer for $16. With tax it came up one penny shy of $17.

The feature in the model I bought is its reusable, so-called “permanent,” filter along with a white ceramic mug. I just now brewed my first cup and it tasted good, though I probably could have put a bit more Folgers grounds into the filter. I will see how the machine holds up and note the quality of my cup of Joe.

Now, I probably could have woven into what I have just written, an anecdote, maybe two, of my tale of a cup of Joe. But unfortunately, for whom I’m not certain, I am writing this in the middle of laundry. That will come off as a flimsy excuse once you finish reading this, but a flimsy excuse is better than no excuse at all.

In the Navy — Clap for a cup of Joe

My post-high school days were spent in the service of the United States Navy. I may need not, but will mention that this was in the final days of the Vietnam War. By final, I mean the peace accords had been signed, the draft was no more and the finale was the fall of Saigon (and the remainder of what was South Vietnam) to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, a.k.a. the North, or the “commies.” The latter took place about nine months after I enlisted but the closest I got to Vietnam was several hundred miles away while transiting the South China Sea enroute to the Philppines.

Today, I normally drink about two cups of coffee a day, though I usually partake of a cup of iced tea at lunch and take it with me. The tea gets watered down sometime and usually doesn’t provide much of a caffeine blast. Likewise, that all is about the sum of my total caffeine intake.

That wasn’t the case during the days I spent in the Navy.

I used to drank coffee like a fiend and did so pretty much for about 30 years. Somewhere down the line. I decided about two cups were all I needed of the stuff.

Now coffee, like getting s**tfaced and chasing women, were pretty much ground into Navy culture. Pardon the pun. That was at least the case of the male-dominated society during my tour from 1974-1977. The Navy even explained why coffee was an important part of the life and culture on film while I was in Boot Camp at Great Lakes, Ill. The training film I saw was named “A Cup of Joe.”

It was such a long time ago when I saw the film that I remember few details. Whether it mentioned the long-standing tale that the slang for a cup of Joe came from the name of a long ago Secretary of the Navy I don’t remember. That secretary the Hon, Josephus Daniels, a tee-teetotaler under President Wilson,  banned drinking alcoholic beverages onboard the ships — yes, sailors could actually drinks a bit onboard in the olden days — with his infamous General Order 99. Thus coffee allegedly became the beverage of choice due to this prohibition.

No proof exists that the slang a Cup of Joe, actually came from Daniels.

I told my friend Warren this story around the time we were semi-roommates. Semi meaning Warren worked as a mud logger on an offshore oil rig and came in after a week on the job. He thought the whole Navy film and the phrase concerning coffee were hilarious concepts. I suppose the word Joe was what led us into another discussion.

Cartoon cussing in college course

My friend Waldo, who by then had his Master’s and was making “do-dads from the woods,” had suggested before I started college that I take some courses that might be of interest as well as fun rather than taking all required ones which might have left me burned out.

I followed his advice. One such course I took during my first semester was a Psychology course on Human Sexuality. Yes, the good old college “sex class.” This was edgy for many students, mainly the ones who had recently left their neat little suburban lives outside Houston and Dallas.

In addition to learning all one needs to know about sex and more we had an optional class one day which was taught by our late, great Professor Dr. Wayne Wilson. The class was on profanity. This specifically dealt with sexually-explicit words. I found it quite eye-opening as this funny-looking cartoon character on film showed tons of dirty slang words and phrases. One must remember, I had been a sailor not too terribly long from the sea. It being legendary how sailors cursed, I thought I had heard it all. Alas, I had not.

One of the words I found funny was “Old Joe,” which was given as slang for “the clap,” a.k.a. gonorrhea. I looked at several online dictionaries today and have seen a few definitions that said Old Joe could be a catch-all slang for sexually-transmitted disease. But it was explained in that Psychology course by a little cartoon man on film — with the dirtiest mouth I have ever witnessed, I might add — as clap.

Of course, adding Old Joe as slang for the clap following a Navy sea story on a cup of Joe, had my friend Warren rolling with laughter. He would amuse us when stopping at the 7-11, asking “Care for a cup o’ Old Joe.?” To which I replied, “I think not.”

I suppose you had to be there.