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Spilled coffee tests faith


I’ve never understood how anyone writes without coffee. It’s been years since I tried anything so foolhardy.

I may drink too much of it, though as evidence of coffee’s health benefits keeps accruing, I won’t concede that point.

Friends have suggested that I just hook up an I.V. to get coffee more or less constantly. Others say that with my brew a cup is optional; the coffee stands alone. I say, what possible good “except to be cast out and trodden under foot of men” is putrid stuff through which you can see the bottom of your cup?

Be that as it may, last weekend I launched off into a new “writing with coffee” adventure.

I had a wedding sermon to write for that evening, a sermon sermon to work on for the next day, and a wife and dear friends who wanted to go garage sale-ing early that morning.

I wanted to go, too, but . . .

Then I realized, that’s what notebook computers are for. I knew from experience that I’d get finished looking at a garage sale about 92.5 percent more quickly than the other three-quarters of the garage sale-ing quartet. This should work out, I thought. At each stop I’ll look stuff over, then head back to the car and have time to work while they shop.

After seeing a hundred or so sales, we paused at Starbuck’s — a great idea, though Starbuck’s really needs an express line. One “fru-fru” line. One express line.

I just wanted their plain, dark brew — to be enjoyed straight for a bit and then loaded up with cream. I’m glad I was too cheap that morning to go for café brevé with Irish cream flavor. I love it, but it’s loaded with sugar, and that would have been a lot worse. But I’m getting ahead.

We got the coffee, saddled up, and headed back into the garage sale fray. A few minutes later, I decided to write with coffee. Literally. I lifted my cup, the top crimped, the cup toppled, and I baptized my laptop computer and my lap by total immersion.

I baby my computer almost pathologically. But its little cursor faltered in a flash and the light flickered out of its eyes. When my favorite blonde daughter-in-law heard (I also have a favorite brunette daughter-in-law), she asked my son immediately, “Is Curtis okay?” She was right to think in terms of “mental anguish,” not “hot coffee.”

I drained out the coffee (a sad sight), took the computer apart as far down as I could, and dried it with compressed air. Amazingly, after some further CPR, it’s breathing again. I’m writing on it now. With coffee.

I’ll send it in to Dell later to be sure any circuits still marinating with now dry coffee are cleaned. It’s got a bit of warranty left, which led one son — he’d not do this — to joke, “Two months of warranty left? You should give thanks, back it up, and then hose it down with a garden hose before you send it in. It’d come back new.”

Amy’s right. I may need sedation while it’s gone. I use it a bunch. But I probably need to remember that Jesus is right, too. A person’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions — or in the viability of his computer.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at


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