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.Non-fat super-sized double-wide mocha fine jell-o shot machiado supreme.  With fries.

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.