Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Freshly Brewed Hype!

April 12, 2017

I always look forward to posts by Rick Watson, a talented author/columnist, blogger, and singer/guitar player. Rick’s blog, Life 101, is extremely well written and always uplifting, and we can always use more of that. I mention Rick because he recently posted a piece about his love of coffee. His initial experience with this brown elixir, which he refers to as “…love at first sip,” was much different than mine. Check it out (here). In contrast, I’m posting my very first blog from 2011 where I describe a very different reaction.

 

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Some things in life just don’t live up to their hype. Every time I go to the grocery store, which my wife assures me is much too infrequently, I pause on one of the aisles and inhale deeply. I’m instantly borne up on a magic carpet ride of intoxication that lifts me to exotic places and distant memories. I’m on the coffee aisle. And as usual I feel gypped.
           

I remember spending the night with my grandparents when I was a kid and waking up to the wonderful smell wafting beneath my bedroom door. My grandparents would have been up for hours, the little radio on their kitchen counter squawking funny-sounding words I couldn’t understand, words that nevertheless made me feel safe and loved—the language of the Old Country, which in our case was Portuguese. Grandma served pancakes, sausages and scrambled eggs, but it’s the coffee I remember most. I wasn’t allowed to have any.
           

Waiting for me on the kitchen table was a big steamy cup of hot chocolate, and it tasted fabulous. But it had very little smell. The house was permeated with the mind-altering fragrance of coffee, and I’d ask Grandma or Grandpa, “Can I have coffee instead of chocolate?”
           

“Not until you’re older,” they’d say.
           

I had to settle for chocolate, which was hardly horrible, but I’d ask myself: if chocolate has no smell but tastes this good, how much better must coffee taste? A heck of a lot better, I supposed.
           

The day came when I was permitted my first cup of steaming joe, and I savored the moment. I sniffed the fragrant heat rising from my cup, blew on it for a few moments, and then curled my lips on the cup’s rim for the experience of a lifetime. My days of coffee virginity had come to an end. I took my first sip.

           

C’mon now, admit it? If you’re like me, you enjoy a good hit of coffee and you probably manage to do so without the cream and tablespoons of sugar it took for me to down my first cup, but if you’re honest you’ll admit that your reaction to that first swallow of bitterness was: What a gyp!

           

Same with caviar.

 

What about you? Is there something you couldn't wait to try, and when you did you were left disappointed?

 

 

 

 

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Comments

19 Comments
My first taste of coffee was like my first taste of alcohol: YUCK! Why do people drink so much of this crud? I still have to have both sweetened liberally to tolerate them.
By: PT Dilloway on April 12, 2017
With you every step of the way here. I can no longer tolerate coffee but when I did, I needed heavy doses of cream and sugar or other sweetener to get it down. My husband drinks it black and strong; I can't understand how!
By: jenny_o on April 12, 2017
I agree, it smells much better than it tastes. I never had any desire to have any until I had a "fancy" cup from one of the high-dollar coffee shops, and today at my advancing age I find it's pretty good stuff. I'll probably truly enjoy it the day I permanently check out....just my luck. :)
By: scott park on April 12, 2017
I love my coffee made using a percolator. Use the coffee bean/blend of your liking...the taste and aroma are grand. Tasted good back in the day and I still enjoy 1 or 2 cups per/day.
By: Daniel LaFrance on April 12, 2017
My grandmother gave me my first cup of coffee, too, & she considered it a sin to put anything in it. I learned to love it black & strong!!
By: fishducky on April 12, 2017
Ah coffee is an acquired taste isn't it? Sometimes I think we like what it does for us more than the taste. Much like beer was for me.
By: Arkansas Patti on April 12, 2017
Same here. One taste was all I needed to decide that coffee is better smelled than consumed. I'd have to drink a lot of beer to be able to drink coffee.
By: Val on April 12, 2017
It is definitely and acquired taste. I require creamer but have eliminated sweetener. I do need a daily and nightly hit. My parents and most of their peers drank it black...I think that was a product of the depression when cream and sugar were probably extra luxuries.
By: cranky on April 12, 2017
I like coffee and when we were kids were given coffee on special occasions. There are things I've tried that I didn't like but nothing that I yearned for and when I got it I was disappointed.
By: red Kline on April 12, 2017
Coffee smells wonderful, but not all cups taste that way. Chocolate on the other hand always tastes wonderful, hot and otherwise. My first coffee came from a machine and dispensed into a paper cup. Looking back it was horrible rot gut coffee, but by punching the light and sugar buttons you could end up with something that was at least drinkable. Back in the newsroom those days you needed a cup of coffee to go with your smokes.
By: Tom Cochrun on April 12, 2017
Since i like bitter tastes, i love coffee. When i was little, Nana and MawMaw would both let me have some, but they would put sugar and milk in for me first. When i finally got to taste black coffee, i really loved it! As for my kids, it was the opposite, They would grab my cup, around age 1 year, and when there were only a few cold sips left in the bottom i'd let them, and they would drink it and smile. They all started out drinking black coffee and Grandma taught them to put the cream and sugar in. Silly Grandma!
By: messymimi on April 12, 2017
I'm with you about coffee. I had the same experience and still love the smell of it but could care less if I ever taste it. So many just love it so much they can't think of beginning a morning without it
By: Birgit on April 12, 2017
Thanks for the shout out Stephen. There are some who love coffee and some who hate it. Beer is the same way. I have to admit, I didn't like beer the first time I tasted it. But when I got drafted, they had beer in the drink machines and it was cheaper than Cokes. I developed a love for beer. Cheap beer, designer beer, Imported beer, and even homemade beer. But if I had to choose between beer and coffee, I'd choose coffee.
By: Rick Watson on April 12, 2017
Beer. My first beer was when I was a 17-year-old college freshman. Saint Patrick's Day. Beer on tap at Barber's Bar in Brockport, NY. GREEN beer on tap. It was their cheapest beer ... and it was green. SO disappointing. Of course, I got over my initial disappointment over those next 4 years.
By: Mitchell is Moving on April 13, 2017
not that I can recall. there is one thing people rave about that leaves me cold...oysters. they taste as nasty and slimey as they look.
By: Ellen Abbott on April 13, 2017
1979, I was flying to the west coast and have been hearing so much about Coors and on the leg from Dallas to LA, I had the flight attendant to serve me one... "That's what all the excitement is about," I thought. And I remember the sound of peculator more than the smell at my grandma's house, the smell I remember is bacon!
By: Sage on April 13, 2017
I rarely drink coffee....and never buy from a barista ( overpriced and over rated!) I prefer OJ first thing in the morning! A refreshing eye opener. As for being disappointed in anticipation of tasting something new ....nope- not yet.....
By: Kathe W. on April 13, 2017
Yuck - I hate coffee. I never did try to develop a taste for it, which makes my husband sad. He thinks it would be nice if we could enjoy a cup together.
By: The Bug on April 13, 2017
I like coffee, but I need cream and sweetener. My husband like the smell of coffee, but can't stand the taste of it. I remember being curious about papaya (never had it until I was in my 50's). It tasted peppery to me - not what I want in my fruit.
By: Pixel Peeper on April 22, 2017

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