A new romantic relationship has brought with it a Brady Bunch-style merger of household objects into my life. Since my partner makes more money than me, each new item triggers my underlying class-passing anxiety.  Financial planners are full of advice about how to handle money when couples earn disparate salaries, but they don’t say anything about handling preferences in sheets, candle holders, or coffee makers. I could joyfully give away my battered, low-rent belongings and welcome the bounty of bridal-registry quality treasures in my life, but that tiny cash register noise that totals up the cost of replacing everything when the relationship fizzles is overwhelming (bzzzt….me? commitment issues??!!!).

k-cupEnter the Keurig.

The Keurig is a solution to an unfortunate set of relational problems. He likes “breakfast bland” coffee; I’m a connoisseur of motor oil dark roast. Our coffee arguments followed this path:

1. Several iterations of the “who makes the coffee in the morning” (you do it…no, you do it…).

2. Unresolved by purchasing two malfunctioning Mr. Coffee programmable coffee pots.

3. Devolved into the “I don’t like your coffee preference anyway” argument.

4. Resolved by purchasing a Keurig, the preeminent bourgeois coffee device, a single-cup coffee maker.

5. Oy.

To me, single-function tech toys are the height of consumer irresponsibility. Single-purpose kitchen items are worse. An object designed with the sole task of peeling an egg, for instance, is sheer conspicuous consumption and hypercapitalist waste, yet I am now the proud host (I won’t say owner) of a Keurig in my kitchen. I’m bitter. Motor oil bitter.

With their tiny, single-use k-cups that produce concierge coffee every time, Keurigs caffeinate the rampant individualism that makes late capitalism work. Every morning, I can share my delightful cup of chocolate cherry motor oil with my partner while he drinks his pumpkin spice lite. Tomorrow morning I will be drinking the telos of Burger King’s “have it your way” mass customization with my breakfast.

I feel like I can’t win for losing. I feel unable to sit back and enjoy my coffee or embrace the win/win compromise where we both get what we want in our morning cup. I am always personally implicated in the political economy around me while yearning for membership in a class to which I don’t belong and ultimately to want to join. I look at the tiny hill of multi-hued k-cups on my counter that I will conspicuously consume and ponder the case of my new relationship and relationships in the new millennium. These cuplettes give us each an individualized blend, but what does that mean for couples blending in the long run?

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