Everyday crushes

I confess.

In a life filled with confessions, here's another one.

I have a crush. A Starbucks crush. I think most of you know what I'm talking about. And if you have to ask, well. It was 180-millimeters of heaven. And I was blessed to just have one. Its something about the foam, proportions, the steam and, well, she could tell you. I just know - its better than any I've tasted.

My Starbucks crush actually started with what had to be the tastiest combination of espresso, hot milk and steamed-milk form ever created. The drink was really wonderful, and, really, if I hated her, I would still go back for another and another and another and another.

The crush continued in earnest when I started pointing out to what good drink she gave and her colleagues began to catch on to my infatuation with her bar skills when I would wait and let other customers get ahead of me so I could be sure she would be making my drink. A couple of times when she wasn't there after that first Tall Cap, I ordered something else (not to sully the experience), or just asked when she'd be back and came in later.

This became a problem. Not so much because she drew my name and hearts on the side of my cups but because my constant praise was beginning to resonate with her colleagues. "I hear you really like her cappuccinos," one after the other would say. Another asked my Starbucks crush how she made them and tried a couple (not so bad; not as good) on me. I had to remind them all that they had other, redeeming bar qualities. There are perils, alas, in picking favorites. I couldn't, however, help myself. Sometimes I feel like I should bring the other baristas presents just to make them happy.

So, I've been talking to a friend in another city, who also has a Starbucks Crush, remarking at how similar our experiences are. It started with a drink, turned into a conversation and then became one of the things -- the person, as much as the drink -- that really brightened our workdays. We can both tell when someone has a secret Starbucks crush (or not so secret, in our case) because they blush when we bring up the topic; we wonder when we are walking to the door of Starbucks whether we actually come in for the coffee or for the barista; lifelong coffee addicts, we have anxiety over the idea of our Starbucks Crushes leaving and coffee, and conversation at the coffee house, ever being the same. I used to wonder why I couldn't stop at five cups of coffee a day; now I wonder why I can't stop a ten.

I also wonder when my Starbucks crush goes to take care of another customer after a long conversation whether they like me as much as I think. I can understand having this much anxiety over coffee - after all, Caffeine Intoxication is a disorder in the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders TR-IV. But anxiety over the barista making the coffee and getting a chance to chat with them? I didn't think it would ever come to this one.

My Starbucks Crush is also strong, witty, strikingly intelligent and interesting. She has been through a lot in life and one recent Saturday in August I had a chance to talk with her on break and I learned that at least someone in the complex had a life that rivaled my own when it came to complicated adversity. Who would have thought behind those black and green uniforms could be a person who understood the human life and experience so well that she might as well be a psychologist (and, in this case, its her life experience outside of Starbucks and her work there that combine to make her so interesting and thoughtful).

We spend so much time searching for happiness and making plans for big things in life that, sometimes, we forget that the next most interesting thing (the coffee) or person might be starring us right in our face, yelling, "Yes," back to the words from someone behind the register screaming, "Can I call?"

You can find interesting, wonderful additions to your life in all sorts of places. Sometimes its about the human behind the coffee.

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