Sometimes coffee is just coffee
Online personality test rankles insecure blogger
A Test for Mr. Lama
By Dennis Domrzalski
If only I had lied about what coffee actually does to me.
I wouldn’t be sitting around moping and thinking I’m some sort of freakish, really pathetic loser.
I’d feel good, who knows, maybe even buoyant. Instead of dressing in black, I’d go all out and throw on a cheerful suit of battleship grey. I’d glare only at ninety percent of everyone I see, and I’d start hanging out in funeral homes instead of cemeteries.
But I blew it. I was honest. I said that coffee made me jittery, nervous, nauseous, sick, was repugnant, that I thought it was mistake for me to have ever put that first drop of the caffeine-laden liquid to my trembling lips, that I’ve rarely had it in life, that the few times I have, I anticipated it with terror, and that because of the way it makes me feel I will never have it again.
Turns out I wasn’t really talking about coffee. No. I was actually describing my attitude toward sex.
It was one of those online personality quizzes that a friend had forwarded, this one the Tibetan Personality Test, apparently from the Dalai Lama himself. There were only four questions—you had to make a wish before answering—and the instructions said that for the four questions to precisely and thoroughly determine your personality you had to answer them honestly. The first answers that popped into your head were the best, the instructions advised.
One question said: Write one word that describes each of the following: dog, cat, rat, coffee, sea.
I went a little goofy when it came to coffee. I described it, not as a stimulant or acidic beverage, but as “jittery.” Then I added in all the other stuff because just a half-cup of coffee will make me dizzy, get me trembling and bouncing off walls. I can’t deal with coffee. Never could.
Then came the killer: the answers. The description of the animals implied the personalities of people in your life, including yourself. Then coffee. “Your description of coffee,” the computer screen said, “is how you interpret sex.”
Stunned and humiliated, I raced to the wife and demanded that she stroke my throbbing ego by confirming that my interpretation of sex was a little more flattering than “jittery.” She cackled.
Out the door and into the car I flew to a dear friend who normally greets me with a hug. I told her what was up (not down), and waited for the usual hug. It never came. Instead, she held her arm and hand out limply (in obvious mockery), turned her head to the side, cast her eyes downward and snickered.
Back home I raced to fire up the computer and redeem myself by taking a slew of online personality and IQ tests—dozens of them. No Dalai Lama eastern spirituality crap for me. The results were depressing. I was either a moron or had no personality at all. Three “lifestyle” tests showed that, based on my habits and attitudes—particularly the attitudes—I died at age three.
Trembling and in need of something stronger than pure, fresh spring water, I staggered to the only “guru” I’ve ever known: Phil.
He laughed as I blurted out the story, tossed me a few cold ones and soothed me with these wise words:
“Who the hell is Dalai Lama? Why would anyone take a test from someone with such a strange name? Only a moron takes those Internet tests.”
“Of which I’m one!”
“How do you know that?”
“All of those personality tests said I’m a social misfit!”
“Well, you are—for taking and believing those stupid tests. Look. Suppose this goofball Lama had substituted beer for coffee? What would you have answered?”
“Sustenance! Love! Ecstasy! Nirvana! Addictive! Explosive! Adventure! Life itself!”
“Yeah. And if he had substituted tofu or sand or mud or toenail clippings for coffee your answers would have been negative. So just because some goof with a funny name decides to use coffee as symbol for sex, we’re all supposed to accept it? That’s crap.”
“But, but, but, what about the other tests?”
“Nonsense made up by academics who are so screwed up that they’ve got to find a way to make every other normal person feel as worthless as they are. I once had a shrink give me a test that asked what I would do if I was in a forest and a giant grizzly bear suddenly charged me. The possibilities were run, play dead or fight the bear. I wrote in ‘Shit in my pants!’ which is what everybody would do if attacked by a maniacal grizzly bear.
“The shrink frowned and said I should have answered ‘Fight the bear’ because the bear represented life’s problems and obstacles. By answering ‘Shit in my pants,’ I was afraid of, and being helpless in the face of life’s problems. I told him that a grizzly bear represented a grizzly bear, not life’s problems. Then I told him he was a problem and that I’d take care of him straight up.”
“I choked him ‘till he gurgled ‘Disassociation!” or something like that, and tossed him out the third-story window.
“Another shrink gave me a test that asked what I’d do if I went to a wine and cheese party and the room was full of a hundred people I didn’t know. Would I stand in the corner by myself and wait ‘till someone talked to me, or would I go around the room and introduce myself to as many people as possible?
“When I wrote in that I’d leave and go to the corner tap because I hate wine and only drink shots and beer and beer and shots, he accused me of being paralytically shy and afraid of people.
"I dragged him to the tap with me. He puked after his first shot and ran out the door when everybody laughed after he started babbling about cognitive dissonance.
“So here’s a one-question quiz you can put on the Web.
“Your interpretation of sex is expressed by:
A. How much whipped cream, baby oil and coleslaw you fantasize about slathering over that hunk or babe who's in front of you this very second?
B. Your admiration of, or desire for, overgrown zucchinis?
C. What you daydream about doing with strawberries, cherries and grapes?
D. How frantically you pant at even the slightest sight of skin?
E. How often the word “consume” comes to mind when eying that hunk or babe?
F. How many thousands of dollars you’ve spent at the love products store?
G. Your one-word description of an acidic beverage that rots your stomach lining?
"Now let's see what Mister Lama has to say about this."