Here in Lafayette, we have really hard water which leaves a layer of white film on dishes and fixtures, so there’s a water softener in my building. Periodically they have to add more salt to it, which results in super-salty water for a short time. I usually have to let the faucet run for 10-15 minutes before it’ll stop being salty. There’s no warning for when they’re going to put the salt in so usually I find out simply by sipping a glass of water and being unpleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, every once in a great while, the first time I taste the salty water is when it’s in the coffee from the full pot that I’ve just made, and wasted. And while “salty coffee” actually sounds like some cool dessert, in practice, it’s just about the last thing you want to taste when you reach for your first cup in the morning.
I’ve taken to saying “salty coffee” to myself when something is unexpectedly unpleasant. Salty coffee isn’t just an unpleasant surprise; it’s when something that you expect to be very pleasant is, without warning, the opposite. Like when I slipped on a favorite hoodie for the first time this fall, only to discover that, at some point in the past, my cat had peed on it.
I wonder if this is how figures of speech happen.