If you're anything like me, you get coffee at Starbucks all the time and hate yourself for it. It's charred and overpriced, and yet I still fork over my cash under a dubious belief that getting coffee elsewhere would somehow be inferior. Even more unforgivable, I don't even need to go to Starbucks because I never order specialty drinks like a tall mocha chai frappuccino or whatever those dudes who flip through the geriatric hipster CDs on the counter do while they wait for their $4.98 concoctions. I just get a tall coffee. Starbucks calls it a "pike," but I don't because somehow in the back of my sheepy little mind I'm asserting my individuality.
And each and every time I place my order, the cashier does the same thing. First she shouts "Tall pike" over her shoulder with an unstated reprimand for my deficient nomenclature. And then she turns to me with a helpful smile and asks, "Do you want room for milk?"
For the life of me, I have no idea why because in 10 years no barista has ever left me sufficient room for milk. I clearly say "Yes," and suddenly I'm pouring out an inch of steaming hot tar moments later. If the question is rhetorical and ultimately frustrating, why not make it better? "Would you care for a screaming orgasm with your beverage?" "Should I set fire to the Bon Iver CD that's playing?" "May all the baristas form a sexual human centipede for your enjoyment while you nibble on a cake pop?"
Like this, but without the dude or the surgical torture. Plus candy.
And I know I'm not the only one because all my abused Starbucks brethren circle round the tiny Formica garbage hole sprinkling nutmeg and discharging liquids like the stars of some caffeinated bukkake film.
When people aren't handy around the kitchen, they always say the same thing: "For the love of God, Gladstone, put your pants on!" Oh, wait, that's what Christina H. says when I pop over to show her "my new column." What I meant to write is people who can't cook usually say something like "I can barely make toast!" And while I get the concept, I always think it's a weird expression because it's surprisingly hard to make toast as well as they do in diners. I'm actually a decent cook, and I've never done it.
There must be some secret because even when you get toast at the crappiest greasy spoons, it's still almost always fantastic. Two slices of industrial-issue white bread, browned and dripping with salty butter. You can own bread, a toaster and butter, but somehow, when you make it for yourself, it's never as good.
That's all I really have on this one. Sorry, I just like diner toast. And sexually harassing Christina. Moving on.
I know there are people who love mustard and ketchup and mayonnaise or anything that's spreadable and bad for you.
Not what I meant. Get your head out of the gutter.
And I like mustard, ketchup and mayo, too, but in moderate amounts. That's not a problem when I'm the chef, but there seems to be no such thing as "a little" in the food service industry.
I'm undeterred, and I keep trying with hot dog vendors and sandwich shop employees. "A liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitle bit," I say, scrunching up my face and holding my thumb and forefinger millimeters apart. But these employees seem to be trained that less is more (not just in personal hygiene, but also in condiment distribution). If I say I want a little mustard and you squirt a line of yellow gold across the dog and then another line back in the other direction, what would you do if I said I wanted a lot? And I think the answer is nothing different. Perhaps there's just something so fun about oozing condiments that nothing will stand in the way of the food service employee's embrace of culinary squirt art.
"I have a vision!"