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Caffeine killer? Never! The Starbucks defense

Caffeine makes you psychotic? That's troubling! In the words of my friend and eminent Canadian Adam Goldenberg, "If it weren't for caffeine, I'd have no personality whatsoever."

But Woody Will Smith in Kentucky, is now trying to argue that caffeine pushed him over the brink. He claims that he ingested too much, and it drove him temporarily insane and caused him to strangle his wife.

Caffeine prompted him to kill his wife? Why? I would never kill someone after I'd had my coffee. Before, who knows. The time before I consume caffeine in the morning is a dark blur, full of malicious strangers. I've never actually killed anyone, but once I did clear my throat aggressively at the guy in front of me in the Starbucks line because he kept changing the number of shots he wanted.

"Three shots?" I imagined myself shouting. "I'll give you three shots! And none of them will be almond-flavored!"

But seriously, I love coffee. I love coffee so much that I didn't relate to "Inception" at all. "Was he dreaming?" my friends asked. "What are dreams?" I responded, staring fixedly at them without blinking until they backed away.

I'm a regular at three separate coffee shops, because for some reason it's still embarrassing to me to be seen at the same one three times a day. That would be like admitting I have a problem. It's not a problem!

Caffeine is the one useful addiction there is. You can drink it alone without people coming to your house to stage interventions. If you suddenly start drinking more coffee than you used to, people don't mutter about you and insinuate that you're going through a rough patch at home. They just think you're friendlier than you've ever been, even though they sort of wish your foot would stop twitching!

Do you ever see people standing on the street corner offering to sell you their bodies in exchange for Starbucks gift cards? No. Caffeine gives you dignity. Do you ever see a big macho guy sitting at the end of the Starbucks bar crying into his Venti no-whip triple pump vanilla soy latte? No, you don't. No big macho guy would drink a Venti no-whip triple pump vanilla soy latte.

You never see anyone complaining because she is about to give birth to a "caffeine baby." You never hear politicians declaiming about the need to "get caffeine off our streets." In prison, they give you coffee for free, and you don't even have to give anyone cigarettes for it!

You never see a bunch of people getting together to pass around some caffeine late at night, becoming convinced that they can see into the heart of time, then really wanting meat pockets. Caffeine is an appetite suppressant.

Now, along comes Woody Will Smith and tries to ruin everything. I will not stand for this! Starbucks did not mail me a gold card giving me 10 percent off --completely unprompted, because that's the sort of customer I am! -- so that I could stand here and allow caffeine to be impugned like this.

I know that Smith wasn't drinking coffee. He was drinking a bizarre cocktail of five or six sodas a day, energy drinks and caffeinated diet pills. I understand that this makes a difference. One summer, because I wanted to collect all the Star Wars-themed Pepsi cans, I drank six whole Captain-Panaka-themed cans of Mountain Dew so I could have an excuse to purchase another pack, and I wound up staying all night watching Elimidate and muttering to myself about futility. But I blame the sugar, not the caffeine.

Seriously, caffeine is right up there with foaming hand soap as one of the things I like most about our civilization. You never see over-caffeinated drivers careening into traffic and killing innocent bystanders. You never see people coming into work complaining that they had too much caffeine the preceding night, have no recollection of what happened, and feel like those Chilean miners have relocated to the inside of their skulls and are trying to pound their way out. The worst thing that happens if you go out and have a lot of caffeine is that you get nervous and do a lot of filing. Sure, coffee shops can be full of people who lead sad, empty lives, but those are the ones who are just there for the WiFi. They should drink more coffee!

So the last thing I need is for this Woody Will Smith to start attacking my substance of choice. If he wins with the caffeine defense, I'm going to sue him for defamation!

Well, not really. But give me a couple more cups of coffee, and who knows what I'm capable of!

By Alexandra Petri  | September 21, 2010; 1:21 PM ET
Categories:  Petri  | Tags:  coffee  
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