Although some time had passed, it seemed like just yesterday I’d felt the stigma. The misplaced shame, the silent resentment, walking away from the counter with a vague yet persistent urge to shower.
I’m talking, of course, about Buford’s coffee order.
Last time I worked for him, he went through several phases. There was the iced coffee with extra whip and Splenda, the breve latte (that’s half-and-half with espresso), and now this: the Lo-Foam Large Skim Cappuccino With Seven Equals and Whipped Cream. Perhaps the greatest embarrassment of them all.
At the Espresso Royale on Newbury street, I averted my eyes and handed the barista a handful of blue saccharine packets, quietly giving the dreaded order.
“Um, is this for you?” He asked, not wanting to seem rude.
“Christ, no. I’ll have a large dark roast with a shot of espresso.”
“Ah, a real man’s drink.” Clearly impressed, he set to work on Buford’s noxious concoction. “But OK, really, SEVEN Equal?”
“Seven Equal,” I replied, “It’s the order I was given.”
Coffee Dude offered me an extra shot in my redeye, then, carefully folding the Equal into a carafe of skim asked, “I mean, do you CARE about the person you’re giving this to?”
I laughed, six years of odd memories floating up from the depths. “Let’s just say it’s been a long time.”