Day 26: Starbucks Lovers

In Taylor Swift’s infectious song “Blank Space” there’s a line that the duck-rabbit was quite certain contained the phrase “Starbucks lovers.” [1] It was quite positive that is, until it Googled “Taylor Swift ‘Starbucks lovers’” and discovered that the line in question is in fact one of those universally misheard lyrics (the line actually refers to a “long list of ex-lovers”). But “Starbucks Lovers,” is, serendipitously, an apt title for the story I am about to share with you of my near-meet-cute-but-even-nearer-meet-hideously-scarring encounter with an older gentleman who was coming out of the Starbucks near Wilshire and 26th.

This was some time ago, maybe about a year ago. I was walking on Wilshire Boulevard between 25th and 26th streets. This is not a section of Wilshire I often walk on, but I had just taken a pair of boots to Mike’s Shoe Repair to be resoled. After dropping off my boots, I headed out the store and started walking East on Wilshire; my next stop was the running gear store that’s a block East. I put in my earbuds and I can’t remember if I was listening to music or a podcast, but I know that I was striding cheerfully, breezily, with a spring in my step now that the cloth bag swinging from my shoulder no longer contained a pair of boots.

So there I am, striding along, yes, perhaps, possibly, somewhat oblivious to what lies ahead in my path. According to Google Maps, the Starbucks is 131 feet from Mike’s Shoe Repair, and so it would have taken me approximately 1 minute to walk that distance. So, there I am, striding jauntily, step, step, step. I can see the intersection of 26th Street ahead of me, step, step, step. I can see the big glass windows coming up on my left and maybe, maybe, I turn my head just slightly to glimpse at my reflection in the glass. Step, step, step, 57, 58, 59, and GASP!

Sharp intake of breath! The door of Starbucks is swinging open and a man is suddenly exiting the door and stepping into my path, clutching his cardboard cup of coffee. We both stop short, me gasping, him glaring as he niftily swings the arm carrying the coffee out of the way so as not to spill it on me. We look at each other for a second, and his glare, I decide, is the glare of someone twenty years older than me thinking damn kids with their damn earbuds who don’t look where they’re going.

But my gasp is not, importantly, the gasp of damn oldsters with poor taste in coffee who don’t look where they’re going. No. My gasp is the gasp of Oh dear God, and sweet Mary, mother of Jesus! Harrison Ford! Han Solo, you rogue! Indiana Jones, as I live and breathe! Is it really you? And are you about to spill your cup of scalding, burnt-tasting liquor all over my now weak-kneed body? A beat later, another thought followed, which was, Starbucks? Really? Aren’t you rich enough to buy that special coffee made from civet-cat-shit? Or, at the very least, go to Intelligentsia? Is it Calista? Does Calista make you go here because she’s addicted to nonfat sugar-free pumpkin-spice lattes?

All right. Are you with me so far? Good. Now, pay very close attention. I want to make sure you catch my drift. Everything written so far in this post up to and including this here sentence but not necessarily any subsequent sentences is completely true.

With that said, here’s What Happened Next.

“Watch your step, sister,” he growled.

Watch yourself, mister,” I snapped back.

The duck-rabbit elegantly took a step back to allow him to pass. But at the same time Harrison Ford took a step forward. “Excuse me,” he muttered grumpily. Now the duck-rabbit sidestepped nimbly to the right, but simultaneously Harrison Ford swerved to his left, and the two were thrown together, in a remarkable piece of slapstick, once again, and this time Harrison Ford’s cup of coffee spills all over the duck-rabbit.

At this unfortunate turn in the tale, those of you who, like the duck-rabbit, have “Blank Space” stuck in your head may be concerned that this vignette is swiftly (pun intended) turning into a horribly literal illustration of Ms. Swift’s warning to all those “Starbucks lovers” that such love may leave you “with a nasty scar.” And so I will take this opportunity to assure you that, in a terrific stroke of good luck, Harrison Ford’s coffee had cooled significantly in the time that had elapsed between the moment when the star-struck barista tremblingly handed him the steaming cup and the second when it spilled upon the duck-rabbit. And, therefore, the cup of black coffee did not produce third-degree burns upon the duck-rabbit’s lightly feathered and furred body.[2] But Harrison Ford did not realize this. Harrison Ford felt remorseful. He apologized gruffly but profusely and tried to mop the duck-rabbit with paper napkins.

“Are you gonna, uh, sue me?”

“Well,” said the duck-rabbit, “while I am in a great deal of pain, as you can see from my reddened and yet not horribly blistered skin, I believe that these burns are the sort that will heal in 3-5 days.”

“Well that’s a relief,” said Harrison Ford a little too cheerfully.

“But that’s not to say it doesn’t hurt,” added the duck-rabbit aggrievedly. “It hurts like crazy.”

“Well where doesn’t it hurt?” asked Harrison Ford concernedly.

The duck-rabbit fell silent and pointed to its left elbow. Harrison Ford bent over and kissed the duck-rabbit’s left elbow very tenderly.

“Where else?” he asked.

The duck-rabbit pointed to its forehead. Harrison Ford bent over and kissed the duck-rabbit’s forehead.

“Where else?”

The duck-rabbit pointed to its right eye. Harrison Ford kissed the duck-rabbit’s right eye gently.

By this time a circle of onlookers had gathered around us. They watched, mesmerized.

“Where else?” asked Harrison Ford.

At that precise moment the door of the Starbucks swung open again and a blond wisp of a thing sailed out the door and straight into Harrison Ford, who now found himself drenched in non-fat sugar-free pumpkin-spice iced latte.

“Oh for Christ’s sake, Calista,” growled Harrison Ford.

The duck-rabbit decided that this was the moment to make a dignified exit.

“Next time lose the earbuds, sister,” Harrison Ford shouted as the duck-rabbit turned its tail and strode East on Wilshire.

“Yeah, and you watch your step, old man,” yelled back the duck-rabbit, without giving him a second glance.

Notes

[1] Did Swift take her song title’s inspiration from Edward Young, “His mighty mind travelled round the intellectual world; and, with a more than eagle’s eye, saw, and has pointed out blank spaces, or dark spots in it, on which the human mind never shone”? I think the only possible answer is: obviously, yes. See http://metaphors.iath.virginia.edu/metaphors?q=blank+space&sort=relevance

[2] I was actually nastily scarred by scalding coffee when I was about eleven. My Mum was serving coffee to dinner guests and, in response to her query, I assured her that yes, I was sure it was a good idea to wear my roller-skates inside, but it turned out that I was wrong about that.

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