Sunday, February 05, 2006

Starbucks Travails

Starbucks, from the moment it crossed my horizon, rubbed me the wrong way. I entered one early on, took one look at the baroque menu with its stomach-churning prices, and quietly moved on to the greasy spoon down the street run by persons of indeterminate nationality. All I'd wanted was a cup of coffee, you see.

It was an emergency that first forced me to buy something at a Starbucks: I was somewhere in Midtown with my (then) seven-or-eight-year-old daughter in tow, when she informed me that she needed a restroom, and she needed it now. We looked about us, but saw nothing that seemed to offer oasis except a Starbucks. We entered; I choked back a retching sense that I was about to be victimized but was helpless to prevent it; ordered the cheapest thing I could find; and then deposited my daughter at the end of the queue for the jakes, which was so long that it had snaked its way the length of the shop. Ten minutes later, she was halfway along the queue, when she left the line to say that it was hopeless to wait and that we must go elsewhere. Get back in that line! I hissed (not easy to do with a sentence containing no sibilants), and led her back to the queue, where a couple of gay men who obviously understood my predicament very kindly allowed her to resume her place. If only I'd learned the gentlemen's names, I'd have remembered them in my will.

I was content never to enter another Starbucks until I began online dating. Starbucks is, by some tacit agreement to which I've not been made privy, the designated rendezvous for blind dates. I saw a number of Starbuckses in 2004 and even a couple in 2005. I had no occasion to revise my opinion that anyone who willingly patronizes a Starbucks is a goddam fool.

But it was not until the autumn of 2005, when I was shepherding a visitor from the Pacific Northwest around and about the City and New England, that Starbucks was crammed down my throat. This visitor believed that, whenever a weary traveler desires a wee break, Starbucks is just the place to get it. It was now that I finally found, tucked away in a corner of that Napoleonic-Code-sized menu, a reference to coffee. Just plain, black coffee. No caramel, no cinnamon, no latte (Newspeak for milk), no nothin'. I ordered it. It was so bitter, I thought for a moment that I had been served hemlock by mistake. At the next Starbucks, I ordered it again. Hemlock again. When I was served hemlock for the third time, I began to see a trend: this freakin' band of highway robbers hadn't any idea how to make a freakin' cup of coffee.

Which brings us to today's rough draft, to the tune of Good Morning, Starshine, from Hair. And may I say that the song suits the subject? Of all the doppy jingles, utterly lacking in any lyrical substance whatsoever, Good Morning, Starshine takes the cake. In short, a typical rock song.

Good goin’, Starbucks—
But have you no shame?
No coffee to speak of,
Except in your name.

Good golly, Starbucks!
I need my caffeine.
Your java's got everything—
Except the freakin' coffee bean.

Lily-livered latte,
Crappy cappuccino,
With caramel swirl;
Mucky macchiato,
Possum-piss espresso,
Fit for a girl;
Gingerbread jamocha,
Jujube Jamaican—
Screwin' up a cuppa joe.

Good gravy, Starbucks!
You call that a cup?
Someday you’ll surprise me
By filling one up.

Good riddance, Starbucks!
You’re out of my life.
I wouldn’t buy what you sling
To please a dying trophy wife.

Itsy-bitsy grande,
Teeny-weeny venti,
With plenty of foam;
Lilliputian leche,
Miniature dolce,
Oh, yes—and foam;
Microscopic mocha,
Meager macchiato—
Screwin' up a cuppa joe.

Coughin’ up jack,
Collarin’ joe to
Pour down the john;
Coughin’ up jack,
Collarin’ joe to
Pour down the john;
Cough up jack,
Collar joe—
Somethin' in this pic-
Ture’s just plain wrong.
Somethin' in this pic-
Ture’s just plain wrong.

Lyric © 2006 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov


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