“There is now a Starbucks in my pants.”
If Taco Bell were to charge four dollars per taco, would you think that it was grossly overpriced, or would you think that it would be worth it because there are hundreds of Taco Bell locations across the United States? That question was rhetorical. If Taco Bell were to charge four dollars per taco, you wouldn’t even think of setting foot in one of their locations. Yet Starbucks has always been able to get away with this, and they’ve recently raised their prices by eleven cents, making their coffee somewhere around forty-seven dollars a cup. What I find amazing about this is the fact that at some point, someone within Starbucks’ corporate headquarters must have called a meeting to discuss this idea, and they came to the conclusion that people would indeed be willing to pay more money than they are already paying for their product.
Being that their coffee tastes horrible, and their cappuccino and espresso is mediocre at best, Starbucks has been able to administer a piece of propaganda that would make even the Bush administration jealous: they have convinced people to disregard their taste buds:
STARBUCKS EXECUTIVE: Here, taste this.
CUSTOMER: Oh my God! This coffee tastes like dog shit!
STARBUCKS EXECUTIVE: Yeah, but it’s Starbucks.
CUSTOMER: Oh really? Never mind then. I like it.
STARBUCKS EXECUTIVE: That’s what I thought. Now give me forty-seven dollars.
On almost a daily basis, I hear tourists say, “Oh, look! There’s a Starbucks!” I can tell by the tone of their voice that they’re excited about this, but only because it’s something new to them since they come from towns where there is no such thing as Starbucks. About five years ago, there was an article in the Sunday New York Times that caught my attention because it was about Clifton, New Jersey, the town that I was born in. It was entitled, “A Downtown Too Decaf For Starbucks.” It was about how they were thinking about opening up a Starbucks in Clifton, but they decided not to because demographics showed that people in Clifton didn’t make enough money to afford it. This is the case in most towns in America, so when these tourists come to Manhattan, the “forbidden coffee” has a special appeal to them. Therefore, it’s ironic in that the way to get rid of all Starbucks locations is to put up more Starbucks locations, as long as they’re put up in the suburbs. That’s not to say though that Starbucks is limited to tourists. New Yorkers go there too, but if Starbucks were to lose its tourist dollars, their entire empire would collapse.
As for the New Yorkers who go to Starbucks, well, they baffle me. New York City has some of the best coffee shops in the entire world. For example, if any of you have ever had a cappuccino at Cafe Dante on MacDougal Street, then you know how easy it is to get arrested for masturbating in a public place (I should write for Zagat). Also, a good coffee shop is supposed to provide its patrons with a cozy type of atmosphere, the type of place that makes you want to sit there for hours while reading a book or while simply looking out the window and watching the freaks stroll by. Starbucks provides no such atmosphere.
So if Starbucks doesn’t have a cozy atmosphere, and if it’s product is mediocre at best, how does it attract so many tourists and non-tourists alike? Language. Never underestimate the power of language. Psychologists Elizabeth Loftus and John Palmer conducted a study in which they showed subjects a film of two cars colliding. They then asked the subjects how fast they thought the cars were going. A week later, they asked the subjects again how fast the cars were going, and if there was any broken glass. However, some subjects were asked, “How fast were the cars going when they bumped into each other,” while others were asked, “How fast were the cars going when hey smashed into each other?” Those who read the word “smashed” remembered the cars going much faster than they really did, and they were also more likely to remember having seen broken glass. There wasn’t any. As human beings, our egos don’t easily permit us to believe that we can be duped by a simple verb. We’re told that a picture is worth a thousand words, and we believe it. But this study shows us that the exact opposite is true, that one word can permanently alter our perception of the picture. That being said, I am one-hundred percent convinced that people go to Starbucks and pay two dollars more for their coffee than they would anywhere else so that they can have the “privilege” of saying that they want their coffee tall, grande, or venti instead of small, medium, or large. Holy shit! Do you mean to tell me that I can order a dopio instead of a double espresso?This must taste great!
About five years ago, I was at my father’s office in Orange County, New York. One of his employees showed me an insurance policy and said to me, “I sold insurance to this guy. Read his name out loud.” The clients name was Thomas Fagione (pronounced faj-ee-own), but it could very easily be pronounced fag-ee-own-ee. After that day, every time that I was in my father’s office I would act like a very flamboyant homosexual who wanted to purchase life insurance. My father and his employees would laugh their asses off, and I wouldn’t stop doing this until at least one of them coughed up blood. However, one time, one of my father’s employees said to me, “What are you, from Greenwich Village or something?” This is something that I often heard while living upstate. You see, Orange County is only about an hour and ten minutes away from New York City, but people who live in Orange County only come to New York City about once a decade, if at all, because they’re boring and stupid. One thing that they like to do though when you act gay is mention Greenwich Village because they think that it makes them sound sophisticated if they make a reference to a city that they never take the time to visit. What they don’t realize is that while the majority of gay bars–as well as the Gay Pride Day Parade–are in Greenwich Village, homosexuals are everywhere in the city. There was a time years ago when almost all homosexuals were only in the village, but that’s changed. Of course, people from Orange County don’t know this because they almost never come to New York. These are the same kind of people who, when they do come to New York, get excited and say, “Oh look! There’s a Starbucks!”
I mentioned earlier that language has the power to not only alter, but create our reality. Even though Starbucks created their evil empire through the manipulation of language, language can just as easily serve as the recipe to their downfall. Despite the increasing approval of gay marriage, homosexuals are still seen as outcasts in society. Therefore, if any of you are like me and you hate Starbucks, but you have friends or family who like it, have them do you a favor by ordering their coffee in a certain way. Ask them to tell the cashier, “Hi. I’ll have a cup of your gay coffee.” If the other people in line hear them say that, it will subconsciously plant in their minds a sense of discomfort towards Starbucks, and they’ll stop going there. At first, people will be resistant towards ordering their coffee in this manner. If they’re generous though, stress to them how much it means to you. Remind them that we often say or don’t say things on a daily basis as a way of pleasing people. For example, my ex-girlfriend is very religious, and she doesn’t like it when people say “God damn it.” One time, I explained to her that you’re not actually taking the Lord’s name in vain when you say “God damn it.” Instead, you’re simply acknowledging God’s existence, as well as his ability to damn whatever situation it is that’s bothering you. When I told her this, she had a look on her face for a brief moment that indicated that I was right and that she had never thought of that before. This isn’t surprising since religious people don’t think. If they were capable of rational thought, they wouldn’t be religious in the first place. And since religious people like my ex-girlfriend like to cling to their ignorance and refuse to think in a rational manner, she chose to continue to hate the words “God damn it.” My point is that even though she’s stupid, I did my ex-girlfriend a favor when I talked to her by not taking the Lord’s name in vain. And if I could resist the urge to say “God damn it,” “Jesus Christ,” and “Jesus Mary and Joseph” consecutively just to piss her off, then your friends and family can certainly tell the cashier at Starbucks that they want a cup of gay coffee.
I am completely confident that if we get enough people to start ordering their coffee in this manner, Starbucks will fold in about six months.
cc: Paul Coffee
January 1, 2005
UPDATE: Putting this on a blog almost eight years after I originally wrote it, I decided to see if I could find some kind of photo if I went to Google and typed in “gay coffee.” Look what I found: