After exiting my neighborhood Starbucks with a small latte in hand, I’m eager to start my day, ready to conquer the world. I’m convinced that nothing and no one can stop me. But then all of a sudden, that confidence vanishes in mere seconds when I realize I’ve made a colossal mistake:
A moment ago, as I was finishing up at the condiment bar, I noticed a polite woman holding the door open for me to leave. It seems, in my haste to make it there in time without appearing rude, I mistakenly picked up one of those freakishly long straws, far too large for the sippy cup of a drink I ordered.
What kind of a person would knowingly choose this straw? As far as I’m concerned, these monstrosities should be reserved for Big Gulps at 7–11 and coffee guzzlers weaning themselves off of nasty cocaine habits.
Herds of people rush by in every direction, most of them staring at me — probably wondering what I could have possibly been thinking. The embarrassment is painted on my face as I stand here frozen, helpless. My miniature coffee in one hand, this plastic periscope in the other.
The optimist in me wonders if it’s a case of overthinking.
“It’s not that big of a deal,” I tell myself. “Your mind is playing tricks on you.”
As stealthy as I possibly can, I slowly slip the straw into the cup. When it’s all the way in, I tilt the drink to the side for a better look. My God, it’s worse than I imagined. I just stuck the Rockefeller Christmas tree into a goddamn dollhouse.
Anyone that wasn’t looking before is certainly staring now. The gardeners are no longer gardening, the construction workers have ceased constructing.
What do I do now? I suppose I could pull the lid off and drink it that way, but I’ll end up spilling on myself somehow — I always do. Perhaps I could mosey back inside with my tail between my legs and admit my mistake? No, that’s what they’re expecting me to do. I won’t give those smug baristas the satisfaction of looking down their nose at me. Those coffee snobs on their laptops, giggling as they wonder who let the village idiot out of the house.
You know what? To Hell with them all. I’m better off owning it, showing these judgemental bastards that Gary marches to the beat of his own drummer. There’s nothing wrong with hauling around an enormous straw anyway. I get to enjoy an ice-cold beverage with the added benefit of being able to pole vault over oncoming pedestrians.
Confidently, I begin to strut down the street with my clown coffee held high, happily ignoring the nosey onlookers. For the first time in my life, I honestly don’t care what anyone thinks.
Sadly though, the temporary boost in self-esteem is just a brief window into what it’s like for normal folks, as I make it barely half a block before caving in, tossing the hardly touched drink into a nearby trash can.