Starbucks Opened My Eyes

photoI had an eye-opening experience this morning. Not in that absurd use of the word “literal” when it is still quite figurative. You know how people say, “my head literally exploded!”. Well, no, it didn’t, because here you still are, your cabeza neatly intact upon your shoulders. People, I am telling you my eyes opened a little wider than the socially acceptable openness that is necessary to avoid looking like Large Marge sent ya.

Today, I woke up with a horrible tension headache that was compounded by a lack of coffee as I rushed to get my son out the door to “school” or daycare- my stay at home mommy guilt has to refer it as school so I can believe the experience is as good for him as it is for me. I’m not a coffee person, at all, but I started drinking some every morning during this pregnancy to get a little caffeine rather than drinking the gallon of Dr Pepper that usually gets me through my morning. By the time I made my way into Barnes & Noble to sit at my almost impossibly small, round table by the window where I work on blog posts and web surfing while I’m deciding what moving and emotional sentiments I will convey to all my cyber-homies, my headache had become quite belligerent. This table is of course right by the Starbucks café where the blenders, eclectic music and shouts of ubiquitous lattes and espressos usually take a few minutes for me to drown out as I slip into auto-pilot.

So I find myself in need of caffeine and sitting right next to one of the most infamous caffeine peddlers in the world. I grudgingly decide to approach the barista with a vague description of the kind of monotonous coffee I usually take and unnecessarily explain how I am not a coffee person and have no idea what anything on their menu equals to said monotonous coffee. I guess I just need them to know that this is an aberration and I will not be one of their regulars with a trendy tall, venti, grande whatever in my hand as a status symbol. I much prefer the message I send with a Dr Pepper can in my hand which is much more indicative of my, I’m-still-cool-in-a-collegiate-I-just-woke-up-and-am-too-cool-to-be-“cool”-enough-for-coffee-and-not-quite-sophisticated-enough-to-use-coffee-as-a-place-holder-for-my-status-until-it-is-socially-acceptale-to-switch-it-out-for-a-glass-of-wine, persona. But back to the barista. She kindly suggested a vanilla latte with half a shot and my headache throbbed in acquiescence. A few minutes later and I was holding an impossibly short, tall vanilla latte. I can see now how people can confuse the concept of literal and figurative when you order a literally tall latte and get a figuratively “tall” latte instead.

I took the thing to my almost impossibly small table by the window, pondering the superfluousity of the little cardboard sleeve with the coffee goddess printed on the side, and sat exhausted from the experience. I gave it a few minutes to cool, which might have served more as a few minutes to come to terms with the cliché I had become as a writer in a coffee shop. Finally, though, snapped out of my self-loathing by the shouting of someone else’s falsely advertised grande whatever, I decided the time had come to drink the damn thing mocking me next to my laptop. I blew into the little hole and was slightly embarrassed and tickled by the little whistling sound it made when I did so. I slowly and deliberately tipped it back, expecting to burn the hell out of my lip, when instead came the eye opening experience: This shit was good!

This wasn’t my cursory Folgers with International Delight French Vanilla creamer, consumed merely as a way to administer caffeine to my nervous system. My head literally exploded! A “tall” could not measure up. I needed a “grande” or a “venti”, whichever is larger, but I’m hoping that “venti” is a translation of the Latin word twenty, because, yes, please, I’ll take twenty ounces of this stuff. I was careening down a slippery slope of hedonism that was incongruous with my preconceived notions of what my previously stated, overly hyphenated stream of consciousness description above conveyed. In that split second between my first sip and this overly dramatized reaction, I blinked to keep people from staring and set down my pretentious coffee, my life somewhat changed by the experience. I got down to the less than room temperature dregs and was thankful for the temperature change so I could take the remaining contents in gulps, like I would one of my beloved Dr Peppers when I had acclimated to the burning carbonation.

And then, just like that, it was over. I was left with a slight buzz that whispered in my ears and propped my eyes open like imaginary little tooth picks wedged between my upper and lower lids. Writers of yore drank alcohol, presumably to access a part of their brains that was otherwise inaccessible to them in sobriety. Had I found my drug that would rival Hemmingway? I certainly felt like I could run with bulls or embark on a Kerouacian adventure within the fickle confines of my imagination. For now I’ll settle with this blog post and hope that my eyes remain slightly more open than I had previously allowed them.

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