Ever wonder what the deal is with the lady on the Starbucks seal? The one who beckons you into her lair with her bewitching grin and the promise of temporary mania followed by atypical bowel cycles?

Her seductive quality is not unintentional. The woman depicted on the now-famous insignia is a watered-down rendering of a Siren, a mythical temptress whom you might recognize from when you skimmed the SparkNotes for "The Odyssey" in ninth grade.

The reason the current logo looks like a partially nude princess with oversized cooking mitts is because the corporate bigwigs thought that the original design?a bare-breasted mer-seductress with a pronged fishtail that looks like two spread legs overgrown with fur?was too risqué to be marketed on a large scale (read: outside bohemian enclaves and red light districts).

At Bowdoin, where students are more than willing both to get seduced by scantily clad temptresses and hopped up on amphetamines, coffee is understandably popular.

And available. The Café in Smith Union stays open deep into the night to fix students who are up late finishing papers and problem sets. Then it opens early in the morning to kick-start those same students, who passed out in their clothes at 4 a.m., several pages short of completing their assignments. Both dining halls are fully stocked to pick up said students during the in-between hours?known as "daytime"?before night falls and the cycle repeats itself.

That was me. My freshman year, I could be seen upstairs in the union taking tri-daily java hits with the other users. We had a bunch of different names for it: the bean, the bitter, the brew, the black, the buzz, ink, oil, octane, tar juice, bean soup, black soup, black gold, black acid, black liver, big black Africa, roast, drip, tweak, and Vegas roach trap, to name a few.

We thought we were invincible. We'd sit around coffee bars until all hours of the night, doing espresso shots, hitting on baristas and terrorizing hipsters by yelling "Death Cab sucks!" and peeing in their messenger bags. When the management would kick us out, we'd go home, brew a pot or three, and write incoherent poetry while watching the sun rise.

We familiarized ourselves with the minutia of coffee-brewing. Eventually, our palettes became so refined that we could pinpoint origins of brews not only by country, but by producing estate. We spent hours debating the relative virtues of flavored versus unflavored coffees, of Arabica versus Robusta, of Turkish grind versus French press. I urinated once every eight minutes.

Then one day, with bloodshot eyes, decaying teeth, and a nerve twitch that made me look like Will Ferrell in "A Night at the Roxbury," I decided to call it quits.

Getting clean was difficult at first. I was tired often. My reaction to coffee had become such that it no longer stimulated me to excess, but rather kept me at a functioning level of alertness. Without it, I was clinically narcoleptic.

I realized that I would have to make sacrifices to make my decaffeinated lifestyle work. For instance, I could no longer stay up late to watch "Pants-Off Dance-Off" on the Fuse channel. The sheer weight of this sacrifice alone tested my resolve to its near-breaking point.

Also, I decided that I could no longer take classes that meet during the 2:30 to 4 p.m. period. I know what you're thinking: I should be more concerned about those classes that start at 8 a.m., right? I thought so too. But as I soon found out, early-morning tiredness can be stayed by a hot shower?especially in the Tower, where water temperatures are known to leap 50 degrees Celsius without warning at least three times during an average-length shower (usually while the stream is on your face).

Mid-afternoon exhaustion, however, has been more difficult to combat. I have usually just eaten lunch, which eliminated the oh-so-important "too hungry to sleep" factor. I've been up, presumably, for at least four or five hours, which means that back when I was riding the black stallion, I'd be two or three cups deep. Unaccustomed to the sensation of blinking, my eyes seem to fancy this "being closed" novelty.

I can no longer effectively complete homework assignments after 11 p.m. A few weeks after going off the juice, I began writing a paper at midnight, as was my custom. As I was proofing it the next morning before class, I found that I had actually drifted in and out of sleep while typing. During the time that I was asleep, I had typed erratic narratives of my dreams, which were pretty wacky to begin with. There was no time to go back and redo the paper, so I had no choice but to hand it in. Luckily, it was a Vonnegut seminar, and I got a B+ for "creative stylistic imitation."

Since I quit, a bunch of other caffeinated energy drinks have hit the market. Most of these contain the active ingredient Taurine, an amino sulfonic acid found in ox bile. Tasty!

While my self-imposed prohibition includes all caffeine, and not just coffee, I did happen to try one such beverage, once, under extenuating circumstances. I was driving through the middle of Iowa during the night, and, having been on the road for 20 hours, I was feeling a tad drowsy. But I had a schedule to keep. So I decided to get some caffeine in me, my fidelity to principle overwhelmed by a reasonable desire to not crash and die.

I chose EAS's "Piranha" energy drink, which has been advertised as "bone-crushing." I'm now pretty certain that they meant "hallucinogenic." To be fair to the good folks at EAS, I hadn't slept for quite some time, and it would be presumptuous for me to blame their humble crack-substitute for what happened next. I took a few swigs, and before I could even say, "Mmm, that's good ox bile!" I hallucinated the form of a giant man with glowing red eyes wearing overalls and a straw hat, sitting on the back of the semi-truck ahead of me.

I then pulled over and took a nap.

Sometimes I long for my old habit. I often pine for the distinct aroma of a fresh brew, the warm cup against my palms on a cold winter morning, and making it through an entire day of classes without passing out and drooling on my notes.

But I have decided that these temptations, like the Sirens' songs, are better left un-indulged. Odysseus wisely determined that being dashed against the rocks just wasn't worth it, and I'm pretty sure he would say the same about cirrhosis.