Before I met my wife, Jenny, I was pretty anti-Starbucks. It wasn’t just because I didn’t drink coffee; had that been the case, I’m sure I would have viewed it with more of a casual indifference. Me mocking its customers had to do with them being quite willing to fork over $4 for something it seemed they could have gotten at a gas station for 99 cents.
They couldn’t. I know that now.
Jenny’s love affair with the Bucks predates me by several years, so by the time we went on our second date back in October 2005, she was in effect a goodwill ambassador to a hostile nation.
Well, that’s not quite true. I really wanted to make out with her that night, so I was playing my Starbucks cards close to the vest. That’s how we came to be in one after we finished dinner.
I did admit that I had never had a drink at Starbucks and, being intimidated by this bizarre universe where “tall” somehow meant “small,” asked her to order for me.
“Two grande nonfat vanilla lattes, please,” she said.
That was all she wrote.
Not Jenny–whoever the “she” is supposed to be in that expression. And I’ve just realized I have no idea who that is. What a weird thing to say.
I suspect it was a combination of wanting to share Jenny’s habit with her and the deliciousness of the drink itself that sold me on the place. We started going there together. A lot. To the point that today, my Starbucks consumption rivals her own. (I suppose it also doesn’t hurt that I’m a writer, and we’re drawn to them like Oregon football is to ridiculous uniforms.)
Being a creature of habit, especially when it comes to ordering foodstuff, I didn’t really branch out much beyond the grande nonfat vanilla latte. Sure, sometimes it would be a tall, and I’d throw in some mistos just to control costs, but that was about it. The grande nonfat vanilla latte was my thing, so much so that my friend Josh started calling it “the Ted Fox” and I included my frustrations about when the baristas make it a skinny vanilla latte (which is totally not the same thing) in You Know Who’s Awesome?
Then something happened.
One day, I think it was last fall, I was feeling a little frisky, so I streamlined my order.
“Grande vanilla latte, please.”
I reasoned with myself. “I’m a young man, in good health, with a fairly–how shall I say it–‘wiry’ build. I can easily afford the 2% milk today. Besides, it’s not like I’m going to keep doing it.”
I kept doing it.
I can’t help it; it’s delicious. It’s like my beloved grande nonfat vanilla latte, with the fat put back in.
OK, I guess it’s not “like” that, it is that. And it’s heaven. So rich and creamy.
Damn. Why am I not at a Starbucks right now? Then again, there’s a very real chance I will be by the time you’re reading this. Ahhh. That’s the stuff.
The nonfat version has not been banished entirely; I’d say I’m still getting it anywhere from 25-50% of the time I order a latte. But still, in my little world, that’s a monumental shift.
I tell you all this not because I think I’m headed down a path that ends with me snorting sticks of butter. No, the real reason I’m confessing is because I am now kind of a fraud. Who knows what might come out of my mouth in there. It could be “venti macchiato double-whip mocha,” which more than likely is not a real thing. I don’t know what to say, other than:
Josh, I’m … I’m sorry.