Wednesday, March 14, 2012
710. My Secret Starbucks Identity
My Starbucks name is Francesca. Or Annalise. One time it was Ocean. My Starbucks name has never been Tina or Sue.
I don’t go to Starbucks very often for the simple reason that our kitchen boasts its own fancy espresso machine, a relic from me working at the high-end kitchen store. Most mornings, I walk in my sock feet into the cold kitchen, pop the concentrated espresso capsule in the machine, and press a button. Our machine also has a milk frother pitcher that plugs in and does everything. All I have to do is show up.
Which is why I only find myself in line at Starbucks on an afternoon when I am out of capsules because Queen Virgo forgot to order more (the capsules must be procured with a click of the computer mouse, like impulsive etsy purchases, wrong-sized buyer's remorse sweaters, and discount books on Amazon).
I used to merely be my boring self when I would order my grande extra-hot latte (“Name please?” “MOV”), until one day I was in line with my friend Kim and I overheard her tell the Starbucks guy that her name was Staccato.
“What are you doing?” I hissed at Kim, worried that the Name Police might swoop down on us and demand to see her driver’s license (“Kimberly Ann Davis, eyes brown, hair blond, weight 120 pounds”). “You’re not ‘Staccato’.”
Kim laughed an endearingly jolted laugh (somewhat staccato if you must know) and then divulged the interesting fact that she uses fake names at Starbucks.
“Why would you do that? They can easily spell and pronounce ‘Kim.’ I don’t get it.”
“I get to reinvent myself,” explained Kim-Staccato, “I can try on a different identity, like trying on shoes.”
We both reflexively looked down at Kim’s shoes: white Keds.
“I might try on five inch heels,” she continued, undaunted by my momentary shoe-gawking, “or hot pink sequined ballet slippers. But at the end of the day, you’ll find me in my Keds.” She shrugged, as if to say Everyone gives a fake name at Starbucks and if they don’t, they should.
“But, well ... I mean ... I just never …” I had no idea how to respond to that.
“MOV, think about it. Every day, you do what you are supposed to do. You get the kids off to school. You pick up the dry cleaning. You mail the birthday present. You live up to expectations. You don’t hop on the next plane to Miami, or forget to go to work, or flirt with that hot guy at your neighbor’s party. A Starbucks alias lets you live a little.”
Of course she was right. My brain whirred, searching for the files where I stored exotic names, names I might only have previously considered for a future pet golden retriever or black lab.
“Can I be Zelda or Sapphire?”
Kim guffawed. “Only if you want the Starbucks guy to think you’re a stripper.”
Fast forward to now. Like Kim, I try on different names with ease. Yesterday I was Josephine. The day before, Hannah-Marie (“Can I just write Hannah on the cup?” asked the beleaguered Starbucks girl as she glanced at the line of 15 people behind me. I cringed: “NO.”) It’s fun to be someone else for a few minutes, wondering what my husband would look like if I was Annalise or Daphne. Would he be the same The Husband, or would he be Rodrigo or Jonas?
The Starbucks barista slides my drink across the counter. “Meredith?” he calls out while looking me directly in the eye, his voice foaming over with uncertainty.
I shake my head emphatically no.
“Sorry, miss,” he apologizes, smiling. “I thought you were someone else.”
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