Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Summer At Starbucks

When you go into Starbucks, you can be anyone you want to be. I am Summer, not my given name. My Aunt introduced me to this idea when we were in Starbucks together and the barista called out, "Tall cafe mocha for Heather," and my aunt, not named Heather, went and grabbed the coffee. I looked at her with raised eyebrows and her response was, "I always wanted my name to be Heather." Really. Interesting. I had to try this myself.

At first, I would choose a different name each time I ordered a coffee. I've been Jane, Liz, Kate, and even, when I was feeling particularly adventurous, Chaka. That's right. I told the barista my name was Chaka and she wrote it on the cup. When my coffee was ready, I watched as the other barista read the name and paused for a second before calling out the coffee order, not the name. I didn't grab the coffee right away. I wanted to hear Chaka! After a few minutes, she sighed and then called out, "I've got a tall caramel macchiato for Chaka!" Gleefully and giggling, I went to the counter and got the drink. There was an African-American man standing at the counter waiting for his coffee and he looked at me, surprised I'm sure to see a white girl picking up a cup marked for Chaka. He asked me, "Is that really your name? Chaka?" My response was a laughing, "Of course it is!" and I walked out. Totally hilarious!

I go to Starbucks a lot, so I quickly ran out of names to use and decided to settle on one name, one persona that would embody my Starbucks identity. A Starbucks name is not a quick decision. Sure, you can be spontaneous once or twice, but a true kindred spirit will know and understand that a name is a sacred thing. A name marks out your identity and the freedom to choose an alias for one of your favorite haunts is very personal. After much thought, I finally settle on the name Summer. I love that name. I love that season. My daughter was born in July and I wanted to name her Summer Skye, but my dh said it was too "hippy" for him. Oh, well. A Summer is fun and flirty and laughing and light. A Summer is refreshing and open and friendly. I may not be Summer all the time, but in Starbucks, I am Summer.

My friends quickly caught on since we stop for coffee during our nights out. At first, they all begged me to give them names, too. I tried to explain that a Starbucks name comes from within. You must choose your own Starbucks name. Besides that, when I actually did give them all a name, one of my friends rolled her eyes and said they all sounded like stripper names. (Honey, Skye, and Stacy - are those really stripper names? Hmm. Maybe they are.) Eventually my closest friends did select their own Starbucks names, and those that didn't think it's funny and laugh when I do it, but deep down, I think they are afraid they don't know who they are in Starbucks. Too bad for them.

My dh steadily refuses to have a Starbucks name. Refuses! I offered to pick one for him to help him out, but he said no thanks. I think he thinks it's silly. A Starbucks name is freeing! It's a chance to be that name you always wanted to be. I don't have a regular drink I order. I tend to order based on my mood. But the name on the cup is always the same. Summer. (Of course, sometimes I get a raised eyebrow when the name I give doesn't match the name on my Visa card, but so far it hasn't been a problem.) I think the barista gets it. Starbucks knows me, understands they've created an environment, a third place, where I can relax and not carry my own persona for a time. Summer knits. Summer reads. Summer people-watches. Summer does not cry and worry and fret about her life. Summer does not think about bills and finances. Summer just wants to enjoy her beverage of choice, breathe deeply the coffee aroma, and be, simply exist.

Who are you in Starbucks? Who do you want to be?


  1. This is so funny. I LOVE the Summer girl!! Hmmm must think of who i"ll be.....someone confident with herself. I think I love Meryl streep for this. I"ll be Meryl!

  2. This is so funny. I'm going to try that next time.

  3. Kathy b, come back and post a pic of your "Meryl" Starbucks cup!