Medium Cappuccino with an Extra Shot of Awkward Please

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.

King-Bradbury won.

“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.”

Silence.

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.

A Caution to Writers

Dear fellow writers,

Should you ever decide to change perspective halfway through your novel’s draft, do not use Word’s “Find and Replace” feature because otherwise when you try to change “I” (the pronoun) to your character’s name (Paige, in this instance), you might find every letter “I” replaced with her name. Oops. That Paiges a serPaigeous Paigeue. 

Sincerely,

Ryanne