Damned Newfangled Cupholders

Greeting fellow mountain people and happy Sunday. A constant theme in my 6 trips to Mt. Whitney is my coffee obsession/addiction. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was in elementary school. Back then, coffee was percolated and Starbucks and Peet’s didn’t exist. Today’s excerpt is again from trip #1 in 1998 and finds me, Mike Gibbons and Michael Galli  in our newly rented and packed Jeep Cherokee as we are about to leave Cupertino and head to the Sierras. While we now take cup holders in vehicles for granted, in 1998 they were relatively new. At the time, I owned a 1982 BMW 320i and I would have to either hold my Peet’s coffee in my hand, between my legs or wedged between the emergency brake and the passenger side seat. And for this particular entry, I acquiesce to a Starbucks stop because in ’98 there just weren’t as many Peet’s as there are now.  


To the disgust of Galli, a non-coffee drinker, our next stop is at a Starbucks in Cupertino. Gibbons and I get tall decafs. As we are adding cream and re-affixing our lids at the condiment station near the exit I try to save Gibbons future anguish by selflessly offering to dump some of my coffee on his shirt and pants knowing that no matter how heroically he tries to avoid it, inevitably he will manage to spill some on himself while driving. I figure that by christening his pants and shirt right now I’ll relieve him of the uncertainty and give him peace of mind. Since we first became friends eleven years ago in 1987, Gibbons had yet to arrive at our final destination–golf course, ski slope, or casino–with clothes unstained. Like an alcoholic in denial, he responds to my offer by saying that this time it will be different. This trip, unlike all the trips we’d taken in the past, he would have a cup holder to save him. I fight off the temptation to slap him. I feel it foolish of him to put such a blind, child-like faith in this newfangled modern technology and gadgetry, but I knew it would be pointless to argue with him. Being worldlier than he, I had long ago stopped believing in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, and I was even starting to have serious doubts about Santa Claus and leprechauns. I knew that in the truck, in the real world of the open road, that paper Starbucks cup with the lid that never quite seemed to seal tightly, yes, that cup would inevitably have to travel from the cup holder to Gibbons’ quivering and thirsting lips and all it would take was a solitary stray drop of the brown liquid to deflate his balloon of ignorance, pop his bubble of innocence and naiveté. (Sadly, it turned out that on this trip, Gibbons and his clothing were able to escape spillage, reinforcing his devout belief in the device. I, however, am not swayed by his argument and remain skeptical, and while I did use the cup holder myself, I still believe that the cup holder is a crutch for the weak, uncoordinated masses, and it only leaves the hand that would otherwise hold a cup, free to hold onto a cellular phone.)


About victorvolta

I am a freelance photographer/writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in the very suburban city of Santa Clara. Education: San Jose State University (class of '84) BA degree in Journalism with concentrations in Photojournalism and English. Favorite Foods: Ribeye steaks and Stan's Doughnuts (separate plates, usually). Favorite Drinks: Strong gourmet coffee and Trader Joe's Blood Orange Italian Soda (separate cups).
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