Walking along Thames Street in Newport, Chris and I were weeding through the nest of ideas in our heads. The wind was whipping in off the ocean and danced around our goosebump-covered legs. The sky became a little overcast, so we decided to duck into Starbucks to grab a coffee and let Chris sketch out his ideas on the margin of a newspaper.
Walking into the coffee shop in shorts and a t-shirt, I couldn’t decide which drink I wanted to warm me up. I knew that it as possible to make some of the drinks sugar-free, but I’m not a Starbucks rat. I have no clue how to order there – it makes me feel sweaty just thinking about it. I can’t wrap my head around calling something that’s a “medium” a “grande.” It’s like a caffeinated Taco Bell. Sometimes I just want to clutch the edge of the counter, lean in close, and whisper madly, through clenched teeth, “A coffee. Just make me a damn coffee.”
But I’ve digressed once again.
“Hi, what can I get for you?” The young boy behind the counter had a nice smile and handled the long line of chilly Newport customers with grace. Chris had already ordered and moved aside to let me in.
“Hi. Can I get a chai tea? Is that sugar-free?”
“No, but I can make one with skim milk?”
“Actually, can you do a chai tea with the teabags and steamed milk or something?”
“Sure! And you can add a few honey packets and then we’ll froth it up and it will be delicious.” He grinned.
I grinned back.
“I can’t really add the honey. I’m diabetic, so I’m looking for something that’s as sugar-free as you can make it.”
He stopped and looked me dead in the eye. “A teasto.” (Editor’s note: No clue how to spell that.) “A non-fat sugar-free vanilla teasto. No sugar.”
“Really? That sounds delicious. And then I’ll be good to go?”
“Yes. My father is a diabetic.” He punched in my order on the cash register. “And so is my little brother.” The girl to his right started making the drink, but he leaned in a grabbed the cup from her. “Hey Gabby. I’ll make this one myself. It’s important that it comes out right.”
A minute later, he placed two cups on the counter.
“Double espresso for you?” Chris took his cup. “And then the sugar-free non-fat vanilla teasto. For you.” The Starbucks boy leaned across the counter furtively. “Add like half a packet of Splenda and it’s awesome.”
Damn you, Starbucks. Just when I’ve thought I’m beyond your caffeinated claws, you reach back out and gently bring me back in.