Sometimes things just slip out of your mouth, you know? The filter disengages and you say exactly what you are thinking before stopping to wonder if it is, perhaps, appropriate. I find that this is especially possible when in unfamiliar territory, being already off-balance and confused as to how to act. Such was the case this morning as I negotiated the foreign-to-me land of Starbucks.
Local pastor Dark Murmurs had decided to hold our staff meeting there this morning, as Starbucks is his natural habitat. This was fine with me, although I only go into a Starbucks for two reasons. The first is that I have wandered in by accident, and the second is that I am with the sort of person who might go into a Starbucks and I have no choice but to accompany them. Today was the second reason, and we had a perfectly fine meeting, full of laughter and mischief (which is how one should always plan a worship service). But as the meeting concluded and we all left for a different meeting, I decided I would get something to eat and drink, for reasons of hunger and thirst.
I walked up to the bar (counter?) and was greeted by the barista (counterista?), who very politely asked me what I would like. I responded that I would like a hot chocolate. She asked the size, and suddenly I was sore afraid. Don’t they have some sort of secret language at Starbucks? I was grasping for something to say, and so I said “some sort of middle sized one.” She laughed and asked if I wanted a “medium.” A “medium?!” Was I in the right place? I thought Starbucks employees were not allowed to say the word “medium.” I thought they had other magic words that one must use in order to get a medium sized drink. But no, she assured me that the secret code was pretentious and stupid, and that I was welcome to order my drink using any words that would get the message across. How refreshing.
It was at this point, now feeling a higher level of comfort with my new drink serving friend, that I decided to start running my mouth at high speeds and saying absolutely nothing of substance or import. “Yeah, I don’t know how to order drinks in here!” I said a little too loudly. “It’s because I hate COFFEE! HA HA! I shouldn’t have said that! HA HA HA! This is a COFFEE place! HA HA HA HA! Ha. Haaaaaaa…. Yeah. And also a chocolate croissant.”
So she got my pastry and my beverage and rang it up on the register. The total was $6.66. “Hey, it’s your lucky day! All sixes!” she said to me as I looked on in horror.
“LUCKY DAY?!” I gasped. “That’s the number of the beast! I can’t order this! I don’t think I can buy anything from this place!” I mean, I was kidding, but I was also very loud. She laughed anyway and demanded I pay her, regardless of my religious beliefs or the fact that I was there for a church meeting. She wished me a Merry Christmas as I left, to which I shouted back “Merry Christmas, Satan!” In hindsight, I probably should not have said this. It was less Christmasy than it sounded in my head. A bunch of customers stopped to give me an odd look. I considered telling them that I had just misspelled “Santa,” but that doesn’t really work verbally. Oh well.
I walked out of the Starbucks with Dark Murmurs and I didn’t look back. I told him what had happened, and he said he would never even consider buying anything that cost that amount. I think he was kidding. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. But whatever his shopping preferences, I’m pretty sure he never would have yelled “Merry Christmas, Satan!” to the Starbucks barista. Because he knows the deal in there. He knows what to say. And now I know what not to say.