Our coffee maker is too small for the coronavirus pandemic. Like much of the rest of the world’s population, my husband, Frank, and I have been on lockdown for three weeks now, following orders to stay in our apartment as much as possible in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. We only go out to walk our dog, pick up groceries, and take an evening constitutional by the Hudson River.
The rest of the time, we’re at home. During working hours, this involves a lot of typing at our respective computer keyboards, videoconferencing, trying to drown out the other person’s videoconferencing with show tunes, yelling at the other person to turn down the volume on the fucking show tunes, and making coffee.
I am not new to working from home—in fact, I’ve been doing it for nearly four years now. What is new to me is having Frank around. For the most part, he has been a fine officemate, despite certain killjoy tendencies when it comes to tolerating the musical choices of other tenants in the shared workspace (see above).
My only complaint is that the machine that brews our coffee was clearly not designed to support this many employees on the payroll. I think the numbered markings on the side of the glass pot are meant to indicate that you can get up to five cups of coffee from one brew cycle, but how small are these cups supposed to be? The size of acorn caps?
As a unit of measure, 1 cup is equal to 8 fluid ounces. But my David Bowie mug holds 8 ounces and there’s no way I could fill it up five times with the contents of our coffee pot.
Not that I get a chance to try. By the time I start the machine in the kitchen, go back to my desk to check an email or two, belt along with Patti LuPone for a chorus or two, and then return to the kitchen, the coffee pot has invariably been drained already by Frank, with his gigantic, barrel-like pink Beyoncé mug.
And so I have to start the whole process over again or nag him to brew a new pot. I just want a cup of coffee, but instead I oscillate between being a barista with a bad attitude and a Starbucks store manager with a bad attitude.
Don’t get the wrong idea: Most of the time, I’m grateful to be stuck here with Frank. That’s true during the current global health crisis as well as during the larger global crisis known as life.
I may want to strangle him when he empties the coffee pot or Brita pitcher without refilling, but then if he emits a single dry cough I spiral into a panic of preemptive mourning. This is what marriage is all about.
As Stephen Sondheim put it in Company (the Broadway revival of which we were supposed to see last month, until all the theaters closed):
You're always sorry, You're always grateful, You hold her, thinking, "I'm not alone." You're still alone. You don't live for her, You do live with her, You're scared she's starting to drift away— And scared she'll stay.
Below, I’ve posted audio of the full song from the show’s 1970 original cast recording. I recommend playing it with the volume low.