by Mike Todd

Once the words came out, there could be no putting them back in. My wife Kara would know the full extent of my betrayal.

“There’s a pretty good chance you’re about be angry with me,” I told her.

“Oh, really?” she laughed; then she saw the look on my face.

“Wait, really? What’s going on?” she asked.

To that point, the morning had been pleasant. We’d just dropped off the kids at daycare. The sun shone through the leaves as they fluttered in the late spring breeze. I wondered if the weather would be this nice again tomorrow, and if so, would I be alive to see it?

“Still enjoying your coffee?” I asked her.

“The coffee’s fine. What’s going on?” she asked, giving me a key argument for the defense I was about to need.

A few months prior, we’d stood in front of the giant bags of ground coffee at Costco.

“Hey, the Costco brand is only 12 bucks for a two-and-a-half-pound bag. That’s five bucks cheaper than the Dunkin’ Donuts bag,” I pointed out, helpfully, I thought.

Kara rolled her eyes. I was cheap when she married me, which makes it a pre-existing condition, but as my age advances, my frugalitarian tendencies are getting worse (or better, depending on your point of view). She signed up for a certain level of cheapness, but she did not agree to spend her life with the guy who separates two-ply toilet paper into two rolls of one-ply, or the guy who washes paper towels and hangs them out to dry, so I’ve tried to funnel my natural cheapness into pursuits that won’t draw too much attention.

Perhaps emboldened by our recent cutting of the TV cable, I looked for other monthly bills to slay, since they have the gall to show up every month. As luck would have it, we go through about one bag of coffee every month, which creates an opportunity to streamline our operations.

“Please don’t mess with my coffee. It’s already cheap because we make it at home. This is the kind I like,” Kara implored as she dropped the Dunkin’ Donuts bag into the cart.

Less than three years ago, Kara didn’t even like coffee. Then we had our second son, Zack, who went 750 consecutive days without sleeping through the night, a streak that would have made Cal Ripken, Jr. envious. During that streak, Kara decided that perhaps survival without coffee was not possible, and we both started drinking it every day.

So I agreed not to mess with her coffee, with the implied understanding that the next time I came to Costco by myself, I could buy the cheap stuff, stick it under the kitchen counter, brew a pot without mentioning anything and try to pass it off as Dunkin’ Donuts. At least that’s what I took away from the conversation.

I’d intentionally waited until the kids were gone to start this confession, so that they wouldn’t have to see daddy’s blood spatter on the windshield. A solid marriage is built on trust (and also on compatible Netflix tastes), but as I sat there next to my wife of nearly 10 years, she was drinking a big cup of lies.

“That coffee you’re drinking. It’s the Costco kind,” I said, wincing. Really, the coffee does taste different. Not worse, just different. I’d expected her to spew her first sip across the kitchen.

“Dude, I thought you’d just made it too strong! But you’re drinking the rest of that bag. Don’t mess with my coffee,” she said.

Her response was so relatively consequence-free, a lesser husband might have felt emboldened to experiment with other forms of subterfuge, perhaps going online later that day to casually peruse user reviews of store brand breakfast cereals.

In any event, if you’d like to come over and have a nice cup of coffee, we have plenty. You just can’t watch me brew it.