Starbucks and the Inner Id
All day long, I am responsible. I see the world through the prism of someone who has been a mom for almost a decade and basically done pretty much the same work with the same people for more than 15 years. What that means is that I am boring in certain respects. I eat my greens, work out quite a bit, keep a clean house, and go on date nights with my husband. I am boring---except I’m not. I too have an inner id---an id that I don’t let out very much. Not sure why. It won’t hurt anybody. I feel the safest place to observe my inner id is the safe sanctum of a nice café in a large city. But when I walk out those doors---oh well, I once again become the me that I’ve been all these years. Nice, responsible, disciplined, happy, kind of boring me. How about you? Can you tell me about your inner id???
From January 26, 2011
I have had a pretty tough day. I’ve been working hard, copy writing on demand all day. Trying to basically write a 12-page custom publication in a couple of days. I’m in downtown Manhattan. But I’ve stopped off at Starbucks. There is a barista with the highest cheekbones I’ve ever seen. She is ethnically unidentifiable and stunningly beautiful. She is a perfect size 2. Definitely under 25—and she is completely unselfconscious. When she takes an order, she simply looks at you with her expanding eyes and in a very matter-of-fact, professional-barista way asks what you want. She is exceptional because she is not narcissistic or trying to be cool or appealing. For that reason alone, she would be a good role model for my daughter, I think. The guy in front of me gets a cappuccino. His friend gets water. I get a 3-pump grande skim chai—which for the record has caffeine.
All day, I have been thinking about this character Felicity in Flaubert’s “A Simple Heart.” At 18, the man who promised to marry her went off and married someone else, shocking her into lifelong sadness and an endless search for love. As a maid, Felicity was involved in caring for other people’s children, who eventually either died or abandoned her. She fell in love with God and eventually with a parrot. When the parrot died she had it stuffed, and even as she herself lay dying, she focused on the parrot, worrying about its eternal soul. I wish Felicity had been able to come to Starbucks and find soulmates or friends to hang out with---to cure the loneliness of the French countryside.
As I sit here in lower Manhattan, there are lots of people catching up, talking about when they got married, how they met their spouses, whether they should go to CUNY Law School, their fascination with feather earrings. There is a man of indeterminate age, probably in his 50’s, with one of those hats that looks like he just got back from skiing in the Alps. His scarf is plaid. He is wearing high-end running shoes and frayed faded denim jeans, eating oatmeal, wearing hipster glasses and texting. He is not at all unappealing. Since I am writing about him, I keep looking at him and now he is looking at me too. I am nondescript today, wearing a navy blue suit. Basically sitting here working. He is not wearing a wedding ring, but he is toting a backpack---a sign that he is happily engaged with his work, I assume.
Across the street is Dunkin’ Donuts with its bright orange and red lighting. It looks like it would be painful to sit in there. One would need sunglasses for sure. And above that there is a sign for breast mammography and medical/dental/podiatry. All of this is housed in a post-war, tan building with green-trimmed windows. I can imagine that there are many women who go for a mammogram and come to Starbucks for a latte afterward. Or perhaps they go get their teeth whitened and come for a hot chocolate to get rid of the taste. Perhaps they work in one of the nondescript offices doing something terribly creative. I wonder about all of those people. This sea of humanity whose lives intersect at one corner and who congregate in one of the two largest coffee chains in the northeast (and in the case of Starbucks in the world).
It’s raining. There are so many young people milling about with coffee and bags and umbrellas, and so many middle-aged people who look incredibly young. And so many people drinking coffee whose eyes widen each time they take a sip. I should be rushing home, but I’m not. I’m going to go order more coffee now.