Tom no more

You may recall that last year I frequented a local Starbucks under the pseudonym Tom G. Whiffler1. Then one day Starbucks annoyed me and I decided to drive 10 miles to an independent coffeeplace, and I never looked back (figure of speech). So, for the last six or seven months I’ve been going to this cozy, hipster spot with lots of charm and free wi-fi. It’s the kind of friendly neighborhood spot where they don’t give a crap about your name. Needless to say, I became very comfortable there. Incidentally, in the intervening months I became acquainted (through no fault of my own) with an employee of the old Starbucks, and we had a good laugh over “the whole ‘Tom’ fiasco” (as it had come to be known).

Then something horrible and expected happened. I became—as they say in Germany—”without the money”. Yeah, that’s right, I couldn’t afford two bucks a day. You people don’t get it, do you? When I say “I have no money,” I mean I have no money. I don’t mean I only have enough money to pay my bills with little left over for recreational spending. You people don’t know how lucky you are to live in America! Socialized medicine! You can’t handle the truth! Don’t ask, do tell!

I apologize. I got excited. I wish they’d invent some way to erase stuff on the computer. Anyway.

But I did have some credit on my old Starbucks card. Which is why I find myself back at my old haunt (idiom?). Many of the same people work here. My acquaintance is still here. It’s just as I remember it. Except for one thing: me. I’ve grown. I’ve learned to accept me for who I am2. I’ve made buttons with my face on them.

“Large unsweetened black iced tea, please.”

“Can I get your name?”

“…Conlan.”

“How do you spell that?”

“C-O-N-L-A-N.”

“That’s an interesting name.”

It sure is.

  1. Though I never told anyone the fake last name, I needed to create it—along with an elaborate backstory—in order to play the role effectively. []
  2. not really. []