One day last week was the first official day of fall. I don’t know exactly which day, because I’m not a dates person, but it really doesn’t matter anyway. Where I live “Fall” begins with the start of football season at the end of August, when it’s still hotter than blue blazes. Nevertheless, even if we are still sweaty, it’s almost October, which I think is undeniably “FALL.”
Also undeniable is how the country has been taken over by pumpkin spice. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen posts about pumpkin spice cupcakes (YES, please) a pumpkin spice martini (I could handle it) and pumpkin spice body wash (I thought at first that one was a joke, but it’s not. If you want a good pumpkin spice product joke, check out these).
I’m not a coffee drinker and, as a rule, I try to limit sugar and caffeine, so when Starbucks comes out with the fabled Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) every Fall, I sit it out. To be more precise, I just sit out the whole Starbucks thing completely. It seems costly, complicated and overly trendy. Weird. That combination could also describe my shopping habits. But I’m putting aside whatever my reasons are/were for sitting out the phenomenon. A brief little internet search tells me that Starbucks came out with this drink in 2003, and it seems to me that we’re at the fever pitch of a cultural obsession. Best get on this train before there’s a pumpkin shortage and prices go up. Because it’s such a bargain right now.
So yesterday I decided I would take the plunge and see what all the fuss is about. I know this does not seem like a big deal, but you’ve got to understand that coffee shops kind of stress me out. Like I said before, I’m not a coffee drinker, so I don’t know how I “take it,” and when there’s some sort of special ordering system that makes it even more complicated. Add to that a line of people behind me who ALL know exactly how they take their coffee, and they’re in a hurry and COFFEE IS LIFE, and they’re all thinking “who is the jerk in the giant sunglasses who doesn’t know how to order her coffee” and I’ve just about landed in panic attack territory.
I find that the best thing to do when facing a panic-inducing situation is to make a plan. So I planned out my Starbucks visit.
- Dress the Part. I’m going full-on Olsen twin here. Skinny jeans, short boots, giant sunglasses (which is a little weird, because it’s pouring rain, but I AM IN CHARACTER) and dirty hair. I skipped the scarf because I would have been a sweaty mess. My hair’s already dirty, no need to look like a panhandler. Easy Peasy.
- Find a Starbucks. Also easy. I threw a rock and hit one. I missed the driveway for that one, and then saw another one on my way back to the first one.
- Stand in line. I was actually very thankful for this because it gave me some time to look over the menu, practice saying “Grande,” and talk myself out of a pastry.
- Talk myself out of a pastry. The hardest task so far. That is until I pulled up the nutritional information on what I was about to do to myself with the PSL. The PSL I was about to ingest was going to pack a gut expanding punch of 420 cal, 18g fat and 52g carbs, 50g of those being sugar. I think the exchange rate here is between 10-12 Oreos. And you can chew Oreos. But, no worries, I assured myself, this is an experiment, and besides, I don’t have to drink the whole thing. Who needs dinner anyway? Not the Olsen twins! Note: you probably all know this already, but you can totally “skinny” this drink and take all those counts down, but remember, I’m stressed about the ordering. I think it’s just best to say as a little as possible. Plus, I need to get the full effect to make an informed decision on whether this thing is worth all the hype.
- Order. What I thought was going to be the most stressful thing was not that bad. Maybe because I pointed at the giant sign that said Pumpkin Spice Latte. Maybe because I dressed the part. Maybe because I’m neurotic and ordering coffee in a coffee shop is actually not that big of a deal and I should calm down a little bit. Whatever. On a different note, I think I pronounced Grande correctly, although it took all I had in me to not say “Medium.” Annoying. And I can’t stop thinking about Ariana Grande. Also annoying. I was hoping that they would write my name on the cup so that I could bitch about how they misspelled it, but they didn’t ask for it. They did however give me one of the oh-so-cute seasonal cups, so I let it go.
- Receive Coffee and Look Annoyed, Relieved and Busy. In my eyes, almost everyone at a coffee shop is annoyed. I guess because they’ve got the shakes, and apparently no one can do anything before they’ve had coffee in the morning. Then they get a few things done, and it’s afternoon and they need more coffee so they can get more stuff done. So they’re annoyed that they can’t get anything done until this person gives them the coffee, at which point they’re relieved to have the coffee and then they’re kind of bitchy again because they realize how busy they still are. So while I wait on my coffee, I look around and sigh quietly and look at my watch and check my phone. I checked some very important emails regarding 40% off at the Gap FOR TODAY ONLY, but I didn’t do anything about the emails because I know that I need coffee before I can actually do things. Once they called me up, not by my misspelled and mispronounced name but rather as “Pumpkin Spice,” like a long lost Spice Girl, I smiled a relieved smile to the long-suffering, but peppy person behind the counter. A smile that I hoped said something along the lines of, “I feel you, girl, we have a connection, because we both need coffee to do all the things that need doing!” I now had a decision to make about the PSL. I had not taken a drink yet, because I felt sure it would still be too hot, and if I rushed into it, I’d have scorched tastebuds for days. Which would actually come in handy since I was having to skip dinner, but I digress… Should I sit and drink the PSL leisurely in the shop? Seems like you need a friend for that, and I was alone. Could I continue emulating the Olsens and go outside to light a cig and walk down to Barney’s to do some shopping? Hmmm, well, fresh outta cigs since 1997, and the closest shopping is Bi-Lo. Not quite the same. Or should I just hop back in my SUV and wait for the kids at the bus stop, confident that this caffeine boost would get me through the arduous afternoon? Ding, ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.
- Taste PSL and React. Well, folks, 3 billion people on the Internet cannot be wrong. The PSL is freakin’ delicious. And that caffeine jolt/sugar high is no joke. I laugh long and loud at myself for thinking I would not finish it. That I would pour it down the drain and throw out that sweet little Fall-themed cup. That I would take a sip and say “Meh” and move on with my day. Now I really just wish I could go back to the day before yesterday so that I would not have spent so much of today thinking about if I could have another one tomorrow.
So the experiment is complete. PSL-lovers, I GET IT. Continue posting your pictures of your precious coffee cups, rub your bodies with the essentials oils of pumpkins, drape yourselves in soft scarves and go on hayrides. Outwardly I may still roll my eyes, but you better believe I’ll be in line when word gets out that PSL season is almost over.
If you like making fun of all the boring stuff that happens around people like you, follow me on Instagram and Twitter. @chicwhitesheep