So today I think I’ll introduce you to my love-hate relationship with Starbucks. You should know that Starbucks and I don’t mix often (mostly because he’s ridiculously overpriced and American and I usually go for Timmy’s like the cheap Canadian girl I am) but yesterday I broke dowm and paid him a visit. And what a disastrous decision that was!
I’m over in Edinburgh right now trying to “culture myself” amd after climbing hill after bloody hill trying to find some castle or museum or art gallery (can’t remember exactly what now) I sighed a great sigh, all the while thinking “TEA!” (Jane Austen would have been so proud.) And even though I’m in the UK, surrounded by millions of authentic British tea shops, I ran to that lovely green and white sign I know so well. Oh how comforting a familiar brand can be (why hasn’t Tim Horton’s invaded Europe yet?). My heart warmed at the sight of the “sink-your-butt-into-me” chairs and all the steaming cups of tea and I felt that everything was going to be alright.
Oh, but silly me. I had forgotten I had yet to face the intimidating menu. Turns out the thing about international chains is that terms like the confusing grande, venti, and tall never disappear. And it didn’t help my nerves much that the guy behind the counter was better-looking than most. (Who am I kidding? He was gorgeous! You know, it’s really not fair for anyone to look like some Italian underwear model and have that charming Scottish accent.) I felt like a bumbling idiot with my oh-so-wonderful ordering skills.
“Yes – a small tea. Grande? Oh right, small. I mean, grande. Right. OK.”
And then I stupidly went on to order a scone with jam. (You know, tea and scones? Perfectly British, non-touristy order, right? RIGHT?!!!)
I tried to appear relaxed and cool as I said, “Oh and a scone. A fruit scone? Like with cranberries and apples? Oh, just raisons. Right. Of course.”
And the embarrassment continued.
“Yes, with jam and cream. Whipped cream. Right, now is that whipped cream?”
Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.
“What kind of jam? Strawberry? No wait. Raspberry. No – whatever you have is fine.”
With my tea and scone in hand, I ran from the counter red-faced and sweating. But the mortification had not yet reached it’s peak.
“Ah miss? MISS? You forgot to pay!”
Of course I would do that. Why not? It was already going swimmingly (as they say over here). Somehow I made it back to the counter, trying to convince myself that Mr. Fruit Scone wasn’t really all that attractive and that the twenty-odd people in line were admiring my new shoes instead of staring at me with pity. But my new-found confidence vanished as I buried my head in my wallet, remembering that this was Scotland and they had their own impossible currency over here. With the help of gorgeous Mr. Fruit Scone (and some of the annoyed customers behind me) I successfully counted out the change and made my escape. And then I found a huge comfy leather chair, opened my book and burnt my tongue on the first sip of tea and for the first time I realized: if you can order at Starbucks, you can do anything.