About this story: I wrote this for one of the North Bay Bohemian’s writing contest’s, the rules of which provided a handful of images and simply required that one of the images be used in the story. I picked the image of a bottle of Sloan Family Liniment, but chose to write about it like it was a response to a previous article written in a newspaper, hoping to create some sense of history to the story itself. I didn’t win the contest or even get recognition, but I had fun with the exercise.
This is a message to the editor in response to the article you ran on October 5, 2010, about the 114 year old man that claimed the secret to long life was a daily two hour soak in a bathtub filled with something called “Sloan’s Family Liniment.” Well I’ll tell you what, I went on the internet and did a google of it and it turns out it’s for pain and stiffness relief in horses. HORSES. HAH.
Now, I’m 78 years old, and I wouldn’t mind some stiffness relief, but I was told at a very young age that coffee would keep me alive forever, and that I’d have to devote my life to it for it to work—so I’ve kept to those seventeen cups a day for as long as I can remember, and it’s done me well. I’m still here, and will be forever. I am eternal.
Do you really think I’ll just swallow your lies and lather up with this horse ointment? Give up coffee for your magical balm? Malarkey. Where’s it come from? Not from the magical gardens of Ethiopia, the place where life itself first sprang from the black steaming primordial goop. But do you know what does come from the magical gardens of Ethiopia? Coffee. Coffee comes from there. Coffee is the goop; it is the source of life. That’s why consuming it makes you live forever, stupid.
You’re challenging my being here; you’re challenging everything I know to be true, everything I hold dear to my heart. I’d love some pain relief, I really would, you’re selling me on that…but are you selling me lies? Who are you selling me to?
You’re telling me my parents lied, that I’ve wasted my life. Bullshit. How dare you. What makes you the authority? It’s more likely this 114 year old guy (if he even exists) is lying about the liniment. So what’s going on here? Did you make a deal with this “Sloan” family? What’s in it for you?
Look, I’m not a religious man, but my parents told me they were going to live forever and that I didn’t have to worry about death because they knew the secret of coffee, and that it would keep them alive, and they passed that secret down to me. I’ve lived by it since I was a kid. But my parents are dead, they died of unnatural causes (pop of a heart attack at sixty two, mom of loneliness a few months after pop died), so I never got sure proof that coffee was the real ticket to everlasting life. But I believe it; I know it’s true. I’ve known it for as long as I’ve been conscious. I’ve felt it. It’s something bigger than me, something eternally bigger than us all. I feel it now, enveloping me in its black, warm presence, moving deeply through me, filling me with its raw energy. Now, on to cup eleven.