The coffee conformist

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Despite being a) an inhabitant of the Pacific Northwest, b) a college student / generally sleep-deprived person, and c) the daughter of a triple tall americano addict, I never really got into the whole coffee thing. Up until I graduated high school, I would order lemonade at Starbucks, and for another two years after I never strayed from iced, unsweetened green tea. I had not consumed a drink with coffee in it until roughly six months ago. Tall, iced, non-fat mocha. I was annoyed with the sheer number of words I had to rattle off in order to get said drink, but I remember enjoying the unfamiliar rush of caffeine, describing it as “fun” to anyone who would listen to my chatter.

The next day, I repeated the process. This time, however, I felt like I was experiencing the physical symptoms of a panic attack, having so much energy coursing through my body with practically no outlet (sitting in lecture doesn’t require much exertion). I decided, at this point, that I was not going to pay five dollars a day for something that made me feel like my brain was out-growing my head. And then a week later multiple passersby witnessed me exiting Starbucks with a tall, iced, non-fat, decaf mocha in hand.

Due to the suburban lack of cozy, indie coffeehouses and my own laziness in the area of drink-making, the coffee thing did not present much of a problem while I was living at home over the summer. Upon my return to the city, though, it became quite the opposite – a coffee shop about a block away from campus lured me in with the free wifi and enormous peanut butter cookies, and who was I to ignore my forgotten flame, the mocha? In an effort to seem more chill and less high-maintenance, I dropped the “iced” and “decaf,” even though I have never been a hot drink person and I know quite well by now what caffeine does to my… wellness. The power of conformity, guys, I’m telling you.

And – I say this quite mournfully – now the non-fat mocha has pretty much become a part of my daily life. It seems as if each one I get has less chocolate and more coffee (particularly the one I’m drinking right now, which I accidentally ordered as a double-shot… when the barista asks, just say yes to avoid any potential awkwardness), and by this time next week I very well may be drinking my coffee black. The funny thing is that I feel like this has just happened to me. Like it has been out of my control. It’s, like, 8:30 in the morning, and I’m in this coffee shop full of books, Ella Fitzgerald’s voice reverberating off the walls, and I don’t want to be that pansy who orders an iced tea. You know? Chunky cardigan, hipster glasses, laptop open to WordPress, steaming mug of coffee; it just makes sense.

I didn’t want this to happen. But I suppose I just have to live with it now. Sorry, body. Sorry, wallet. Sorry, baristas who have to deal with me on a daily basis. Actually though.


On a separate note, my recommended songs of the week:

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Advice from a dancing stranger

“Hey ladies, I gotta tell you one thing, okay. Keep it real. Be kind to your other women, don’t mess with them. Love your man. But if he’s weak, flush his ass.”

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Our scene? An indie little ice cream shop, made unpleasantly muggy from the early evening’s sweltering heat. Three young ladies sit at the counter by the window: one scrolling through instagram, one devouring her chocolate ice cream, the last staring intently at a bee climbing up the glass (that’s me, if you didn’t guess). “Brand New Key” starts playing on the radio, and the third girl, infamous for singing along to literally everything, begins, unsurprisingly, to sing along – sadly for everyone around her, this is a song that makes her shoulders move and her ponytail sway, and soon enough she is “seat-dancing,” a form of dancing for the timid or otherwise restricted dancer. The first girl laughs lightheartedly and joins in, the second scowls (but everyone still loves her). Enter a scraggly old man with a stocking cap, on the sidewalk outside the window. He sees the girls moving to the music and, despite not being able to hear Melanie’s sky-high melodies, he engages in a choreography all his own; a high knee here, a quick swish of the hips there. The girls laugh and make their own moves more pronounced, joining him in this ridiculous inside-outside dance party. The moment eventually passes, and the young ladies go back to instagram, ice cream, and staring at bees, respectively.

Mere minutes later, the man clumsily waltzes into the shop, approaching the sticky counter at which the girls are sitting. “You ladies spare any change?” he asks. They nod smilingly as they pull out quarters and dimes, five dollar bills and nickels – soon his right hand is overflowing with coins and a few wadded up bills. Little did the girls know, their minds would soon be overflowing with this man’s sagacity.

“Hey ladies,” “Yes?” “I gotta tell you one thing, okay.” “Okay.” “Keep it real.” “Oh, I will keep it so real.” “Be kind to your other women,” they look at each other and stifle their giggles, “don’t mess with them.” Nods. “Love your man.” “Mhmmm.” “But if he’s weak, flush his ass.” Raucous laughter from the ladies, a bow from the wise gentleman, and a chorus of thank yous as he exits the shop.

This was Thursday.