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Half Caff Gaff

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Tuesday midday fatigue sets in miles away and hours to go until I am reunited with my beloved single cup home brew. On a particularly trying day befitting the choice of a comforting cup of something that will strain my wallet, if not my sensibilities, the local donut shop is passed over in favor of the one which makes me feel an ounce -- or eight -- of privilege.

The decision is not one made lightly. Price tag notwithstanding, I am overtaken by fear. Intimidation... drips from every pore. If I want to partake of this precious elixir, if I want to be handed the corporate Holy Grail, I must first brave the riddle of placing an order. Cracking this Decaffeinated DaVinci Code will not be an easy task. Not for me, anyway.

For the love of God, I have been trained in the performing arts. I can recite Shakespeare! Why then, is it that each time I step up to the counter I avert eye contact with the black and green outfitted hipster standing directly opposite me impatiently awaiting my banal utterance with visible disdain. Palms sweaty, eyes squinting, my mind suddenly goes blank, overwhelmed by the possibilities. This decision will result in a double shot to the head to my friend Abe Lincoln, so yes, there really is a good bit riding on this.

There is the daunting hurdle of skinny, tall, dolce, venti, foam, no foam, frappe, no frappe, half caff and decaf that must be traversed.

Internal coaching takes over. "You're a relatively articulate person. A trained actor who actually took classes in tongue twisting. You once lived in New York City. You are sophisticated, for Pete's sake! You can do this! Remember everything we went over in the car. Just recite that monologue and you'll be fine."

Still, being stared down by this urbane outsipper as the minutes tick by in slow motion, brings my "half caff empty" personality to the rim.

Like the kind of dream where one is chased, yet can't utter an audible word, I open my mouth to form the words and am greeted by an exasperated "What was that?"

Throat clear. And then, the laundry list recitation for the ages.

"Uh...I...I'd...like a decaf...tall...skinny....no foam...cinnamon...latte."

Hah...I can breathe now. It is done. The transaction is underway.

"Will that be for here or to go?"

Sheepishly, I reply "To go."

Urbane Outsipper slides me a dismissive expression as he bellows his haughty amendment, outing me as the Philistine I truly am.

"TO GO! TALL, DECAF, CINNAMON, SKINNY, NO FOAM, LATTE!"

"Your name?"

In a sudden burst of whimsy tainted by humiliation, I blurt out a mask of identity in a full on attempt at anonymity.

"Lipton!"

I invoke the name of James Lipton, host of
Inside the Actors Studio, that stunningly sophisticated, purveyor of Princetonian academia.

Not once do I give thought to the irony therein. But it makes me giggle to hear my hipster adversary shout the moniker shared by the tea of the people amidst the daily grind of the chosen ones.

Grounds for recourse.