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Jerome Christenson: Good ‘nuff

Jerome Christenson: Good ‘nuff

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Jerome Christenson

Jerome Christenson

Here’s a confession — I make bad coffee. Well, not really bad coffee. The old Woolworth’s lunch counter made really bad coffee – those giant perka—urns that were fired up in the early a.m. and for the rest of the day dispensed that tepid, see—to—the—bottom—of—the—cup sour bean—squeeze that folks sucked down when a dime bought all—you—can—drink.

That was bad coffee.

What I make is more like mediocre coffee. A reasonably flavorful brew extracted from ready—ground beans by a supremely unsophisticated process, the ingredients assembled in a pre—shower stupor and the result ready when I retrieve the morning paper from the front porch steps. A month’s worth of this morning joe sets me back roughly the price of a couple of fussed—over coffee house treats.

As coffee goes, it’s not the best, but, on any given morning, it’s good ’nuff.

A lot of things in my life are good ’nuff. Tater tot hotdish may not get stars from Escoffier, but it goes into the oven with a minimum of fuss and bother and comes out tasting like a perfectly OK Wednesday night supper.

For that matter, there’s really nothing wrong with enjoying an ordinary, American yellow beer. It doesn’t take a cicerone to select and serve, but who wants to worry about proper glassware and serving temperatures on a thirsty hot July afternoon? When a numbing cold Hamm’s hits the spot, why drink to impress?

Of course there is a time and place for things at the pinnacle, but a cask—strength, single—barrel highland single—malt is wasted in a whiskey sour. There’s nothing wrong with the exceptional being the exception, the rest of the time, ordinary is just fine.

My folks generation had a good way to describe that. Mom had her “everyday dishes,” and we all had our “everyday clothes.” They were adequate, serviceable, and appropriate for the task and moment at hand. Oh, Mom had her “good china,” but that was reserved for Christmas or company, and nobody would have thought to wear our “Sunday best” to loaf in the living room on Thursday evening. Everyday was just fine almost every day.

That’s important to keep in mind. Appreciating the ordinary keeps life in balance. Nobody’s going to manage the exceptional, much less the perfect, 24/7 and, on the other hand, nobody can live life continually falling on their face. Ordinary is our comfort zone – all that multitude of tasks and situations where good ‘nuff is, well, good ’nuff.

We’re getting on toward graduation season and the infliction of interminable bloviating graduation speeches on captive audiences of vulnerable young folks; speeches full of high—falutin’ talk of passions, dreams and great expectations for saving the world. Galahad seeking the Grail wasn’t given a challenge equal to the typical graduate’s task of ending poverty, ending racism, finding world peace, reversing climate change while staying physically fit, making their personal fortune, and raising the perfect family.

Too bad that. Us old farts know real life doesn’t work out like that. No, for the most part, we don’t live superlatives. Our jobs aren’t our passions and rather than saving the whales, we’re primarily concerned with saving enough to replace a leaky water heater or pay for braces for the kid.

And that’s OK. Living life on the edge would be exhausting and darn little fun. We ought to let the kids know that having a good life doesn’t require putting a Starbucks in your kitchen – Classic Roast Folgers gets the eyes open just as well. It’s OK to save the good dishes for a special day and your best efforts for those special things you find to be really important. For the rest, well, good ’nuff is likely good ’nuff – ’cuz if everybody’s doing good, what could be better than that?


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