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The Decaffeination of Ms Tracy Beckerman

Unfortunately, while I love coffee, I recently discovered that I can no longer tolerate caffeine.  Maybe it has something to do with all that coffee I drank as a child, but at some point my body said, “done.”

I love coffee. I have always loved coffee. When I was a kid I would have a big cup of sugared-up coffee every morning with my parents before school. Back then, nobody thought that loading your kid up with caffeine every day was a bad thing, except maybe my elementary school teachers who couldn’t understand why I was bouncing off the walls of the classroom each morning.

So I’ve been drinking coffee for something like 35 years now. I am an equal opportunity coffee drinker: I will drink Kona or Colombian, Hazelnut or French Vanilla, Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. I drink it hot in the winter and iced in the summer. It is the first thing I have in the morning and the last thing I have at night. This is obviously no secret to my family. Both the kids and the dog know that they do not get breakfast or even get let out to pee (the dog, that is, not the kids) until I get my morning cup of Joe.

Unfortunately, while I love coffee, I recently discovered that I can no longer tolerate caffeine. Maybe it has something to do with all that coffee I drank as a child, but at some point my body said, “done.” (Sort of like what happened after I had my second child). One day I woke up, had a cup of coffee, and got a humongous headache. It was clear, my caffeine days were over. 

“Why couldn’t it be Rings Dings or Pop Tarts or something else I really shouldn’t have anyway,” I moaned to my husband.

“You can still have coffee,” he said sympathetically. “Just switch to decaf.”

Decaf? Ugh! Real women don’t drink decaf. Decaf is for sissies who are afraid of a few heart palpitations and sleepless nights if they have a cup of coffee past 5pm. Decaf is for men who wear their trousers up under their armpits and women who wear pantsuits with palm leaf prints. Decaf? Please. Just the word made me grimace. It’s like offering Tofutti to someone who regularly eats Haagen-Dazs.

Stubbornly, I tried just cutting down. But that didn’t help. Then I mixed caf with decaf for a half-caf. But the headaches persisted. Eventually I realized that I was either going to have to stop drinking coffee completely or switch to decaf. I was not thrilled by either prospect.

“OK, here’s the deal,” my husband announced to the troops. “Mom has to stop drinking regular coffee because it gives her headaches.” A collective hush filled the room.

“No more coffee for mom???” whispered my daughter. The dog looked ecstatic.

“She’s still going to drink coffee, but it’s going to be decaf,” explained my husband.

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“What’s the difference?”

“No caffeine,” he said.

“So what does that mean?” they wondered.


Everyone slowly backed out of the room so as not to disturb the scary lady who was giving up caffeine.

For a week I woke up and felt like my eyes were glued shut. I stumbled through my day and eventually woke up just long enough to go to sleep at night. But slowly the fog lifted and then one day I realized I was actually alert, and thankfully, headache-free.

As I stood having a cup of decaf coffee and a snack after dinner, my husband reached over and examined the wrapper on my candy bar.

He stared.

“What!” I shouted.

“You know… chocolate has caffeine in it.”

©2008, Beckerman. All rights reserved. For more Lost in Suburbia, visit Tracy Beckerman at, and check out her hilarious new book “Rebel without a Minivan” at Amazon and



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