I enjoy my morning coffee. I like a rich dark roast. I like my coffee as it is, no add-ons, no sweeteners, nada, I also like the dark roasts at Starbucks. It’s why I budget half my income to enjoy my caffeine habit.
A neighbor told me Dunkin Donuts’ coffee was better. According to my neighbor, a jelly donut improves the flavor of any drink. But, better than Starbucks? It’s like comparing my mom’s homemade Italian meatballs with the meatballs at Subway. Granted, I never tried the meatballs at Subway. Here’s my thinking. I’ve never stuck my finger in a live electric socket to see if it hurt. I’ve never told a state trooper to get lost when he asked for my license, registration, and insurance. I don’t jump in the shark tank at Sea World to try to help a shark floss. There’s a potential market, shark floss. There are things you don’t do because you already know the outcome. I will not try Dunkin Donuts coffee, MacDonald’s coffee, 7-11 coffee, or any coffee with added flavors. Okay, I admit, I hold a coffee bias.
I need my coffee. I need a topic for today’s blog. I can get both at Starbucks. I walk in the door, my backpack slung over my shoulder. I hope it doesn’t throw my spine out of alignment because I want to look cool. I hear a barista yell, “He’s back.”
What does this mean? I take it as a compliment. They’re happy to see me. From the expression on their faces, it most likely means the opposite, Please, please, please have enough dark roast. Please be hot. Please taste fresh. Don’t give him a card to fill out. Turning my name tag around. No, I’ll take Shelly’s, she’s off today. You’re a guy. Maybe he won’t notice.
I use my iPhone app to pay for the coffee – love those stars. I get a runner’s high when I see them going into my cup. It’s like I’m in first grade, where I seldom got stars and now I’m making up for it. Soon, I’ll have enough to get a supersized iced coffee. Honestly, am I this naive? I let Starbucks convince me collecting stars are important? The only thing I collect now is the lint in my navel and occasionally between my toes. Why do I keep coming back to Starbucks when I can brew it more cheaply at home? It’s not the baristas. Sorry Starbucks, it’s not the coffee. It’s not the background music. What is it then? Could it be their breakfast menu – NOT. It’s the people. Stories come at me twice the speed of light. There are a half dozen stories waiting for me. I sit down at a corner table to write my blog. Sometimes life works out and everything falls into place.
I’m watching a guy, come in, he blows by the baristas like he owns the place. He walks straight to pick up counter and picks up an espresso cup. He ordered ahead off his app. I prefer to wait in line and have the baristas stare at me while I try to get my order perfect, “Venti, dark roast, no room, don’t tilt the can. Don’t half fill it from one tin and a half from the other.” Good thing I have a great memory.
The guy takes a tiny sip from his espresso cup, extending his pinky with the 10K gold ring. From the neck down, he looks like Tony Soprano. From the neck up, he looks like my uncle Carmen past his prime. My dad said Uncle Carmen was the favorite because he was the youngest. Uncle Carmen bragged at Christmas dinner, Thanksgiving dinner, every wedding or funeral women fell in love with him. They couldn’t help themselves. Uncle Carmen’s first, second, and third wives didn’t buy his being an innocent bystander in his many trysts. He claimed he couldn’t help himself, he was easily duped and willingly succumbed to female charms. This is all true about Uncle Carmen.
Think of a ballplayer past his prime. You’ve seen some of “names” on DWTS. Here’s the deal with the strain of my species Uncle Carmen and the guy next to me represent. They think they still have it when they’re past prime. They wear expensive, Italian loafers. Beige linen pants and an off-white silk shirt to impress the ladies. If that doesn’t work, they wiggle their solid gold pinky ring. If that doesn’t work, they order an espresso in a small espresso cup and sip it slowly while holding their pinky askew. The guy next to me is no Uncle Carmen, he doesn’t have the Calabrian nose. I’m going to call him Faux Carmen.
I’m judging. Smart money is on match.com, okcupid.com, or something coming out of that genre. I’m relating this in realtime:
He’s checking his large sized, latest version iPhone.
He’s reading a response text.
He’s checking his emails.
Now he’s scrolling.
Can I get arrested for stalking? Don’t answer that.
I’m tempted to check the FBI’s most wanted list. Is there a bounty on this guy?
He’s putting his cell phone away. He’s looking out toward the parking lot.
Two cars pull in.
He’s smiling. No, he’s beaming.
He’s standing up, sucking in his stomach, Here’s another hundred on my hunch.
He waves toward the door.
My eyes follow his eyes. Every guy in Starbucks is staring (it’s a guy thing – thousands of years of programming). Mastered to the point where the guy pretends to not stare but stares. Do any guys really believe they can get away with this move? Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. And, you have no get out of jail cards.
She slowly wiggles and jiggles her way across the room. They should check your ID at the door at Starbucks.
She’s standing in front of him. Looking up into his face.
He stretched his arms out wide. Evidently, they know each other.
She throws her arms around him.
He wraps her in his arms.
Tío Paul, todavía eres muy guapo (Uncle Paul, you are still very handsome).
Mi hijo de Dios. hermosa (my god child, you are beautiful).
I leave Starbucks with a story and a lesson. I’ll come back again for a story, but I’ll pack my judgments away. They’re usually wrong.