Elmer's All-Purpose Glue

I have before me an espresso. It sits in a little cup, whose handle is so small I have to pinch it. This little ceramic cup sits on a saucer of appropriate size, set in with a smaller inlaid or debossed circle for the purpose of retaining the little ceramic cup in a certain area. Next to the little ceramic cup, laid obliquely such that its broad concavity is nearest to me, is a little metal spoon. It retains some of the either soap or sediment from its most recent washing. I suspect that it's a water stain, though Portland water is reputed to be soft. As an alternative to pinching, I can grasp the entire cup in my paw as a way to avoid the snooty position my hand attains, a sort of declined or rotated A-O.K. sign that lifts and separates my pinkie and ring fingers, though the contrast between the size of my hand and the cup it holds is probably enough to defeat the purpose of the movement, which is to preserve masculinity. There's something absurd about seeking masculinity in the way one holds a cup. The espresso itself is the color of bark, something between a Douglas fir (an earthy brown) and California redwood (a ruddy brown). The Latin name for California redwood is Sequoia sempervirons. The espresso began its life with a frothy patina that coated the liquid's surface. In its adolescence, the patina has since fragmented, separated, or simmered down to cover now only portions of the liquid's surface. This looks very similar to maps of prehistoric continental drift, and this map most accurately resembles a world with high sea levels. One continent looks like a crescent moon; the length of its southern curvilinear coastline is jagged with fjordal archipelago. The other continent looks like modern Antarctica, and floats to the immediate northwest. As I write this, each continent has doubled in size.

This espresso has a twangy bitterness that is probably explained by the amount of time it's been in the cup, though I don't have the gustatory capacity to discern the difference. Meaning, in other words, that it tasted the same when I first drank from it with my pinkie fluttering in the wind as it does now, clasped firmly in my paw. The only significant difference I can detect is the temperature, which has cooled from pleasant and warm to a tepid room temperature.

As the espresso level gets lower, that is the level of the liquid in the cup gets lower, I come to understand that the frothy foam that once coated the surface has not popped or mysteriously dissipated as I assumed, but rather just coats the inside of the cup that's no longer submerged in espresso.

The action of swallowing it can be described as a kind of event of swallowing it: two fingers pressed in the side of the throat, as one might if searching for a pulse, reveal a much more complex muscular sequence that reverberates from jaw to trachia and feels something like an esophageal earthquake, if such a thing existed. The sound of it is totally internal (except in the instance of loud swallowers, one of whom we are all familiar with) and hard to explain. It has no comparison that I can think of. It's just the sound of swallowing.

The most peculiar thing about espresso is the way it changes sensuous experience. The onset is gradual and subtle, but can be described as looking through a microscope. It helps to magnify the smallest object and clarify its idiosyncrasies. In sufficient amounts, espresso exaggerates experience the way an electron microscope magnifies microbiota, a metaphor appropriate for its extreme and in most cases irrelevant detail and the kinetic energy that over-caffeinated espresso drinkers tend to exhibit. This mental state isn't especially noteworthy except in relation to normal, unmodified sensuous experience, which (in my subjective interpretation) is a little bit like wading through a slick of Elmer's All-Purpose Glue–some glitter here, cotton there, and the occasional obstacle presented by a popsicle stick, all experienced frame-by-frame with long interludes to pull one foot forward at a time, or occasionally dislodge a boot stuck in the muck, replacing it onto one foot while trying to maintain balance on the other, long spindles of spidery tack stretching from the bottom of the boot's sole to its last imprinted position like stalactites and stalagmites in reverse chronology, that is slowly stretching apart and thinning with length until they finally snap under the tension. Espresso expedites this process. It doesn't remove the obstacles and distractions, or water down the glue to a more (shall we say) economical viscosity. It somehow makes it O.K. to struggle and fight with the shoe and the glue such that it's a simple step-by-step process, from start to finish, something that just requires a little focus and time. And then it provides that focus.

One just needs to provide the time.