by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
March 12, 2005
NO, I'M NOT GOING TO SAY THAT
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Over the last seven years, I've become quite a coffee connoisseur. But until I was 30, I hated coffee with a steamy hot, dark-roasted passion. I blame my wife for my indoctrination.
"It smells like roasted feet," I would protest. "And it tastes twice as bad." On the few occasions I would drink it, I had to douse it with milk and load it with sugar. But I would otherwise avoid it.
Then I learned you could put chocolate in it. God bless the inventor of the mocha.
But my wife persisted and eventually I was hooked. At first I drank it more for the coffee buzz, but like most addictions, it became a matter of avoiding the elephant-in-my-brain headaches. I considered a lawsuit against Big Coffee, but was advised that coffee didn't actually pose a health risk unless I dumped it in my lap. Besides, I'd face certain death at the hands of coffee house barflies.
When I shop, I generally prefer local merchants over big multi-national corporations, such as my local grocery store instead of Wal-Mart, a local restaurant instead of McDonalds, or stealing the signal from my local cable company rather than a national satellite tv provider. I even prefer my local coffee shop brew over most national coffee shop chains. With one exception.
I love Starbucks, that evil global coffee conglomerate. (Official motto: We are Starbucks. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.)
Don't tell the owner of my local coffee shop, but I stop at the Starbucks near my office every couple of weeks for a fix. And while I love my local coffee, there's just something about Starbucks coffee that keeps me coming back.
Trust me, I feel the appropriate amount of liberal guilt because I'm supporting an evil global corporation But it's an evil global corporation that makes really good mochas. So I stop back in at my local coffee shop twice as much to restore the balance.
And I mentally punish myself every time I walk into a Starbucks. I park as far away from the door as possible, and try to remain unseen as I sneak in, like a minister sneaking into his favorite adult bookstore.
I'm the only other person in there as I skulk up to the counter and place my order.
"Hi, what's your name?" the woman asks me. Her name tag says Suzy - Barista 738.
"Erik. I'd like a large latte with regular milk."
The barista (pronounced "coffee maker") stares at me blankly. "Lar-rj? What is this 'larrj' that you speak of?"
I sigh. I go through this every time. "You know, the biggest size you have."
"Oh, you mean a 'venti.'" The barista stares at me some more, waiting for me to confirm my choice. But I just can't bring myself to say it. "Venti" is Italian for "large," so why can't they just say "large?"
"Yes, one of those. A large."
The barista hesitates slightly. Her eyes narrow, and a look of remembering clouds her face.
"Larrj? Larrj." She says the word a few times, trying it out as if she's hearing it for the first time. Then something clicks in her mind. "Large! I remember large!"
Her voice drops to a whisper. "I used to say large. In the Before Time."
"Before I was assimilated into the Starbucks Collective. Now we're all supposed to say 'Venti.'" Her voice becomes urgent. "But you don't have to. Fight it. Hold out for as long as you can."
Just then, her manager walks out of the back room, and she straightens up. She mouths silently to me, "Keep the faith."
"Do you have an order up, Barista 738?" the manager calls out, eyes glazed over.
"A venti latte for Erik," she calls out. A tear forms at the corner of her eye.
"A venti latte for Erik!" the manager calls back.
The room is silent, but for the hissing of the steamer, as the manager hits the milk for my large latte. It may be too late for Suzy, but I won't let them take me. I'll remain true to myself and my individuality. A large will remain a large, no matter what the Starbucks Collective tries to do to me.
I make my silent vow as the door chimes and a new customer walks in.
"I'll have a Grande half-caf decaf low-fat vanilla mocha with skim milk, no foam, no whipped cream."
God help us all.