It's that time of year again, when summer is winding down and thoughts turn to prepping courses and greasing the academic wheels. As such, I'm frequently asked by colleagues to meet for coffee or drinks to discuss teaching opportunities, course design, etc.
I have a terrible, dark confession. A secret that generates jaw-drops and strange stares from those who happen upon this secret knowledge.
I don't drink coffee. Or beer. Or alcohol, period (for the most part, besides an occasional glass of wine--only white, can't stand reds). I've tried to like coffee and beer, I really have. Certainly in college, beer was plentiful and cheap (or, more commonly, free). I kept being told "you'll acquire a taste for it. Drink up!" But the smell and taste still are nasty to me, even with my beer-snob partner constantly asking me to try new micro-brews and other fancy-schmancy beer labels. For coffee, I tried to like that starting in high school. Working in a restaurant, everyone was caffeinated to the gills and constantly chugging coffee. I tried it black; I tried it with milk; I tried it with flavored creamers of all types. No dice. Even as a chocoholic, I still can't stomach any type of mocha or coffee-chocolate blend. I even scrape off as much coffee flavoring as I can from the top of my tiramasu.
This inevitably makes being an academic awkward for me. Yes, it shouldn't be a big deal (and in the big scheme of things, it's not), but I always feel weird when I approach the counter with colleagues and ask for a soda, or water, or hot chocolate, instead of a latte, espresso, or beer. I feel like I should be sitting at the kids' table with my sippy cup, watching the adults drink their glamorous, grown-up drinks. And don't even get me started on conferences that serve *only* coffee during breaks. If I don't think to bring along my own water bottle while rushing off to the first session, I'm stuck being parched until I can duck out for lunch and grab a non-coffee beverage.
I will say that this does have a few advantages. Though Diet Pepsi was once my beverage of choice, I'm now pretty much caffeine-free, and have never been one of those "don't talk to me until I have my first infusion of caffeine" kind of person. I've never been a morning person, but that's a separate issue from my morning beverage of choice. I've also never had to worry about drinking too much in front of students or colleagues, or wondering if I acted stupid the night before due to "one too many" drinks. However, I do sometimes worry that others feel I'm judging *them* for their coffee or alcohol habits, or that I'm being a "prude" for not downing a few pints along with the rest of them. Damned if you do, damned if you don't, I guess.