Coffee Chaos

Donna Sewell


“Mimi, do you care if I eat some of this banana nut bread?” I asked while foraging through the kitchen of our beach rental.


“Sure, sweetie,” my mother-in-law replied. “Do you want me to make you some coffee?”


Yum, coffee, I thought. “That sounds great, but I’ll make it,” I responded, pulling out the filters and coffee. I filled the pot with water and coffee and waited for the magic elixir to energize me for another night of the cutthroat canasta tournament. This family takes its games seriously. My brother-in-law, Jeff, created a spreadsheet to track the scores. My other brother-in-law, Billy, designed the tournament schedule with a winners’ bracket and losers’ bracket. Wes, my husband, planned to contribute by winning the tournament.


I opened the banana bread, sliced a hefty chunk, and checked on the coffee. About two inches of coffee filled the pot, but no more dripped out. What the crap? I wondered and stepped over for a closer look.


Oh no! The basket clogged somehow, preventing the water from escaping. “Hey, Wes!” I called. “Come help me in here.” Having seen this happen once before, I knew the basket was full of water and grounds.


Wes, Billy, and Jeff strolled into the kitchen, Jeff slightly ahead of the other two. Why settle for one helper when three volunteer? Jeff walked over to the coffee pot. Realizing what he was about to do, I yelled, “Don’t pull that out!”


Suddenly, time raced. Jeff yanked the basket, sending hot coffee and grounds onto the kitchen floor and his bare feet. Being typical brothers, Wes and Billy laughed. In pain, but also laughing, Jeff grabbed Wes’s neck and squeezed—hard. Billy fell to his knees in the hallway, barely breathing between bursts of laughter. I backed away, not wanting to enter the fray, content to observe and laugh.


Wes freed himself from Jeff, who hopped on one foot around the kitchen. Wanting to add more chaos to the moment, Wes grabbed his rear end and yelled, “I think I sharted!” That claim set off more eruptions of laughter. I expected the neighbors to pound on the walls and demand quiet. If they had, we wouldn’t have heard them. We laughed for about thirty minutes, trying to explain the incident to their parents with the story gaining more drama with each retelling.


When the laughter finally ceased, I reminded Jeff, “Um, I said not to pull that out.”