My roommate once described me as “Stephen King trapped inside a Disney princess” and I think that sums up my personality nicely, though I would prefer to substitute Bradbury for King as I am not quite that dark… I am, however, a strange combination of intensity and flowery joy. I enjoy spending dark nights practicing pipe organ in a church and sunshiney days playing my ukulele. I am equally at home in concert black and colorful sweaters.
Now, if you’ve read my blog at all, you know that I have a deep, undying affection for coffee shops. You also probably know that I love making small talk with baristas, mostly to be friendly but also in the secret hopes that I can charm my way to an extra shot of espresso or double whipped cream. My Disney princess side comes out in full force the minute I enter a coffee shop. Enormous eyes and friendly smile? Check. Voice slightly higher than normal? Check. Kindly questions and well-rehearsed coffee jokes? Double-check.
Well, a few weeks ago, my Stephen-King-Ray-Bradbury side took over. I crossed the threshold of my beloved Costa Coffee and, as I re-imagine the scene, I am pretty sure that lightning flashed behind me.
Still, I ordered my usual and prepared to banter.
“Chocolate on top of your cappuccino?” asked the barista.
“Of course!” I reply cheerily. “Does anyone ever say no?”
“You’d be surprised.”
“Huh,” I said. And at this point, I think my King-Bradbury side smothered my Disney side and held her at knifepoint. I said nothing for a moment as the two natures battled it out.
“You know,” I said as the barista reached for the chocolate sprinkles. “In prison…”
(Internally, my Disney side was begging my dark half to stop: “NEVER START SMALL TALK WITH PRISON WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” she sang, accompanied by a chorus of horrified woodland creatures.)
“In prison,” I continued. “That’s how they determine who is and is not a psychopath.”
(King-Bradbury chuckled as the Disney princess gave up and covered her sidekicks’ ears to keep them from hearing what came next.)
“And if they say no,” I went on. “If they don’t want chocolate on top of their coffees, well…it’s the chair.”
Two shocked baristas gaped at me for a moment.
Stephen King and Ray Bradbury enjoyed a hearty chuckle and high-fived each other.
Finally, one of the baristas laughed nervously.
I took my coffee and left.
And, logically, I know that the baristas thought nothing of it after I was gone. I mean, I can’t be the only person to mention the electric chair while ordering a coffee, can I? But every time I step into that café, a little tiny nagging voice chants and mocks me as I order my cappuccino and my Disney side tries with all her overly-chatty might to compensate for the slip.