Friday, March 20, 2009

Why I Used to Drink

So I thought I'd get a little pick-me-up, since the day wasn't jump-starting itself. And I went to one of the many Starbucks coffee marts to solicit my dose. I got in line, opted for a pastry item, and ordered a simple standby-- the "Venti Mocha". A simple drink. One that a seasoned barista scoffs at for its lack of originality or personality.

Done and done. So I shuffled to the open space by the feeding trough-- the "drink landing" where the fresh prescription is placed for the patient... "Do you need a consult with this medication?" Uh, wait-- is that the pharmacy? Yes. Focus now-- We're at a coffee shop. Waiting for our drink order.

Man, it got busy, and quick. Where'd all these people come from? I thought the economy was bad! That every other person had been laid off or at least had their hours cut. Look at all this commerce! Surely the worm has at least begun to turn? There's only three coffee associates behind the counter, and one of them is an increasingly frazzled barista. She's soldiering through, though. Making great effort-- she tries a bit too hard and knocks over a stack of straws. It's okay-- no biggie. She laughs it off. She's making jokes to try and calm herself and relieve tension that is building in the room.

And it's at this point-- somewhere in here-- that I start to lose it. Not in anger. Not in crazy arms flailing action. All internally. All somehow brilliantly hypothetically maybe-ish real. Vividly. I start to sense a grand theory that is built on some shaky logic... but that doesn't matter at the moment it's happening to me. It feels plausible. And all the thoughts fit together to make the house-of-cards logic seem like the Taj Mahal.

I'm thinking about the commerce, the economy, how bad the reports of it are, all the down-0n-their-luck stories going around... and here is a whole lotta exchanging going on. This place is buzzing! (Or, I should note, it seems to be hopping... It may be misperceptions which drive this mobile home precariously close to the cliff...) This just doesn't balance out. What could be the explanation?

From the farthest corner of the universe, a thought born yesterday is launched to my immediate attention. Maybe they've somehow tapped into my bank account.

But it doesn't stop there. On no-- we've only just begun. And yes, the Carpenters are now playing in full stereo in my head. That's typical for me-- I got a DJ with an amazing library at his disposal on permanent retainer in me brain. Playing millisecond clips of things just to get me thinking-- Hmm... why does that sound familiar?

In the meantime, I continue to collect new raw data to support my grand schemes. A few minutes have now passed, and people who ordered their drinks both before me and after me have been served. Curious. Where's my mocha?

All of the supporting "logicistics" are quickly awakened from their slumber. Thoughts I'd thrown in the trash days, weeks, months, years ago are franticly assembled and brought forth to my present mind.

People are arriving and picking up their drinks and joking with the barista. I interpret these jokes to be somehow poking fun at me. Not all of them-- no no, that would be absurd. Just some of them.

The barista notices that I've been waiting a while and asks me what my drink is. She apologizes and says she'll bring it right up. She is calling out drinks in Starbucksanese-- "Cafe Latte half-calf misto" and "Noccachilean Nor'eastern Birthday" and "Mucho Nacho toasted drizzle" and... okay, so those are mine, but they might has well have been what she was saying. She was joking and adding things not usually said because she was frazzled. I took it to mean that she was saying a multitude of euphemisms for "Venti Mocha" that others understood, but not me. No, I just couldn't think right-- wasn't smart enough to realize how clever she was being. Others knew Starbucksanese much more fluently than I, and so were able to step up to the drink landing and get a free mocha. On me. Because they had tapped in to my bank account somehow.

She apologizes again to me, and says that "somebody usually comes out on the short end." I smile and say, "Oh, and today it's me?" We have a polite exchange but I can't recall what was said, because my attention drifts to two other patrons who nervously giggle and gather their drinks.

So like, I'm actually rich, somehow? And all of these people in here are unemployed and broke, but they know me, because I'm rich AND famous, and they know when I come through an establishment, they can be comped whatever they order. Long as I'm around.

Yeah. Sounds plausible, don't it?

In the same way that excessive drinking seems like a good strategy for living.