Started out today by doing various car-like things with muffyjo which included but was not limited to throwing around bags of cat litter and cat food, eating french french toast (french toast made with french bread and grilled bananas on top) and amusing random cashiers with stories about people who kiss you after an all-night trip to LL Bean and then run away. (Happened to her, not me.) Then, as my gloves were whisked away on an impromptu trip to Cape Cod, the rest of my wardrobe and me hung around Somerville for a Theatre@First gathering in the form of an informal script reading of Lanford Wilson's Talley & Son, the second prequel to Fifth of July. In February T@F put on the first prequel, Talley's Folly, and people expressed interest in the subsequent Talley plays. I rather enjoyed hanging out on a snowy Saturday with my T@F friends cold-reading a script; it was great to watch people play off each other and develop characters, however briefly, with a script many had never read before. gilana made a wonderful crotchety old radium-poisoned aunt, for instance. I hope there's more opportunity for this in the future, since I do so love to read scripts and I'm unable to participate in any productions, evening-wise, until (and if) my work schedule changes.
After a bit of food at Johnny D's in Davis (holy cow is that cake batter ice cream something delicious) I set out for Harvard Square to meet Kat, Ian and one or more of the Dorchester Durffokkens. Before going to Cambridge Common I set a spell at the Starbucks across the street and had an unsettling encounter. Now I don't particularly detest Starbucks, though I much prefer to patronize local coffeehouses in the area; however the snow was falling and I was slushed out and I didn't want to go into a bar just yet, so I snuck in to the Latte-Mart for a quick cardboard cup of Earl Grey tea which I gathered would only cost me maybe $1.50 tops.
"Ooh, have you tried Earl Grey and orange tea together?" the barista asked as she grabbed a cup and went for the teabags. "Some lady was in here a few days ago and she ordered it and I was all 'ok, that's weird' but I tried it too and I actually really liked it. The orange and the bergamot turn out nice together. Let me make you one, and if you don't like it, you can bring it back up here and I'll give you regular Earl Grey, okay?"
"Is it gonna cost extra?" I asked, suddenly intensely concerned about the price of this cardboard cup of tea.
"Nah, don't worry," she said, and so I agreed. It wasn't bad, I'll admit to that, but it was nothing spectacular, either, and I'm sure no feelings will be hurt if I go back to regular Earl Grey for the rest of my natural-born life. However, halfway through the cardboard cup I got to musing about the barista's generous offer (of course those who know me understand I never see conspiracy in anything, no sir) and then it hit me: I'd been future-upsold. There was no real sincere concern for my tea-drinking well-being, no, nor had I really expected that. What I hadn't expected was a clever push to get me to enjoy a blend of two teabags in one cup so that, the next time I'd go up for a cardboard cup of tea, I'd ask and pay for two teabags. I figured every kind of tea must have some complementary counterpart to it that could be suggested upon ordering. In the grand tradition of all fixes, of course, the first one was free. It was an insidious gamble but a relatively risk-free one: at the very least, Starbucks Inc. was out one (1) extra teabag of orange tea. At best, someone would start ordering two (2) teabags with every cup from now on. While I enjoyed the additional tea in my cup, I still felt like I'd been had -- yet I wasn't out any extra money.
So, then: unfounded conspiracy, or clever speculatory upsell? Well, next time you're in a chain coffeeshop, order some tea and see if the barista doesn't casually suggest a mix or blend. Let me know what happens. I'd be interested to see if this was some kinda crazy chain-wide phenomenon.
Eventually I met Kat, Ian and gnostalgia at Cambridge Commons and we enjoyed many fine rounds of brewed beverages, but honestly I don't think I can provide a transcript of such a meeting without violating several state and federal laws concering obscenity, border crossings and encryption. But I heartily recommend the Dogfish Head 60-minute IPA, as well as the Cambridge Brewing Company Bitchin