I have been loyal all my life. Always. It was what made us special. The two of us. Together. Together through the good times and the bad times. The two of us. Now I won’t be able to look at her in the same way again. Never again. Because she will know. She knows. Even if I don’t tell her. She’ll know.
Well okay, I was loyal at least since I met her – my little special one. Before that I played around. I was young. I tried everything. I was reckless. But I have never cheated since I made my commitment to her. My special one. She was all I needed. Oh, I noticed the others. But I never did anything. I looked, but I never touched. I never wanted. I just looked and admired. And shook my head when I saw other men playing the game. Having one on the side. But I fell too. I couldn’t help it. I am just a man. A weak, weak man. A man with needs. Basic needs.
I promised her she was the one for me. And she still is. It is was a one-off. I promise you. It is a one-off. Never again. Never again. I knew that she was always there for me when I needed I her. And I need her now. I want her to be mine again. The way she was. The way she was before. Before I cheated.
Maybe we just got used to each other. Maybe the same thing that attracted me in the first place became the same old thing. The same thing every day. We forgot how it was back in the days when we just started. The first time. Familiarity breeds contempt. So true. So, so true.
She was the first things my lips touched in the morning. And the last thing at night. I can smell her when I wake up. That sweet, sweet smell. I can still taste her on my lips. But I can also taste the other one. The one I cheated with. And I can’t get the taste and smell off me. I can smell her on my clothes.
I saw her on the street. I was on the street. Just walking. And then I saw her. Through a window. She looked good. Oh so good. I stopped dead in my tracks. It was like a train hit me. I could feel my heart skip a beat. My palms sweating. The blood rushing. I knew I wanted her the instant I saw her. She reminded me of when I was young. And innocent. She seduced me like no other. And she didn’t even know it. She was just sitting there at the window. Just looking at me but not seeing me. Playing games with me. But she wanted me. And she stood out. As if her name was written in the sky. And I stared. Stared at her sitting at the window – with her seductive ways. That’s when I made my move…
Okay, maybe more like on the window. And she wasn’t really sitting. More like stuck on the window. The big letters wasn’t quite written in the sky. Just on the window. But it spoke to me. It said “Espresso Royale Cafe”. What a name. It sounded all European. All Italian. And I wanted one. I wanted her. A little Espresso. Right there and then. In Newbury Street. And I couldn’t care less who saw me.
I know. It is a shocker. Me, Mr Starbucks Triple Grande Latte, was going to let a non-Starbucks coffee touch his lips. Hold on people. It gets way worse. Way worse… I… I… I actually did it! Yes I did. I just couldn’t help myself. I just had to have one. To hell with the consequences. I wanted an little Italian Espresso. And I wanted it now. It brought back memories of my first coffee fling. My little Italian girl. So I just walked right in and had one. Straight up. And it felt good. Real good.
The barista didn’t know my name. And she didn’t ask. So she never got it wrong either. It happens. And the sugar came in little packets instead of the “easy to operate, tilt and let it run” sugar containers of Starbucks. I need the large container you see. It holds almost enough sugar for my standard coffee order. But I didn’t care. I liked it for that moment. Even if I was stabbing my Starbucks barista in the back. Because I still love my Starbucks Triple Grande Latte.
I know those who know me will be shocked. Mr I-Was-Born-With-A-Cup-Of-Starbucks-In-My-Hand. I always have a Starbucks in my hand. I get up at 6 am and I have coffee. In my travel mug. And I have more coffee. And more coffee. It is a running joke. If someone mentions Starbucks everyone looks at me. And if someone wants my advice for free – they know to just invite me for coffee at Starbucks. I am easy that way.
Yes. I love Starbucks. And not only because of the taste of Ethiopian Sidamo. I love Starbucks because, as an ex-Oxfam campaigner who headed up the Coffee Campaign, I know they are pretty good at working with the coffee farmers and they pay a pretty damn good price for their coffee. More than Fairtrade. Yep, you heard it here baby. They pay more than Fairtrade for their coffee. We looked at targeting them when I was at Oxfam, but we didn’t. Because we very quickly realized that they are pretty damn good. Not perfect – no one is. But pretty damn good. And they make a damn good cuppa joe.
You think I care for the mom-and-pop shop? Not much. Three rules for me. Pay a decent price for your coffee so the farmer can benefit, look after those who work for you and make a damn good cup of coffee. What you do with the rest is just white noise to me. It would be nice if it was a mom-and-pop shop. But that is just wallpaper. Pretty pictures. Not substance. Nice to have, not a must have. Starbucks tick the three main boxes so I am pretty happy.
But I also like them because I am a newbie to coffee. I grew up in South Africa people. We are known for our outstanding crap coffee. Come on. Ricoffy, Frisco and Koffiehuis aren’t real coffee. Read my lips. Chicory is not a coffee. It’s a weed. A herb at best. Moer koffie. Ha. Look at the English translation. Beat up coffee. Or to be more specific on how South Africans use the word moer… hum… well… fucked.. hum… to assault. It is an open assault on what we call coffee when South Africans make coffee. Moer koffie. Ha! Tell me another one.
I fell in love with coffee in Brussels. Back in 1999. On my birthday. We were about to catch the train back to Luxembourg where we were visiting our very, very good friends when we saw it. A little coffee shop right on the corner opposite the Bruxelles-Central. Can’t remember the name. But we went in for a quick cup of coffee. We had 30 minutes before our train left. We walked out the café more than 2 hours later. On a buzz after about five cups of bloody strong Segafredo. It was the first time I met the Italian lady. And she got me hooked.
So my little fling in Newbury was nothing but a fleeting moment of weakness. Just a reminder of yesterday. Good memories. But she wasn’t really Italian. Just a good imitation. Like Vegas. But it was still good. I felt young again. Pure again. Good memories. Segafredo. She’ll always be my little Italian lady. And she’s the only little “on the side” I’ll ever have. She ticks all my boxes.
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