Would You Order The Grande Soy Oprah?

Mar 20, 2014

Say this to yourself: "I'd like a grande skim Oprah."

Let it roll off your tongue. Let it echo in your head. Let it burn itself into your brain. Really feel it.

On Wednesday, Starbucks announced that, in partnership with Oprah Winfrey, it had developed Oprah Chai Tea, which will be available either as regular tea or as a chai latte. When will it be here? "In time for Mother's Day."

Now me, I like a chai latte. I order them regularly. I even make chai at home — it's why I own a big bag of fennel seeds. (The secret is a lot of black peppercorns, lightly smushed, but that's a personal thing.)

But I am trying to imagine a universe in which I would walk into Starbucks, go up to the counter, and say, "Yes, I'd like a grande skim Oprah." I can't imagine it. Cannot. I cannot picture myself not laughing. I cannot picture the person at the counter yelling, "grande skim Oprah," and the barista confirming "grande skim Oprah," and myself paying for it, and waiting around until the barista slides it across the counter and says, "Grande skim Oprah for Linda," without also imagining that all of us are laughing hysterically and now I can never go back to that Starbucks for fear that they'll say, "Hey, want another OPRAH?"

At the very least, I'd have to use a fake name.

It's not personal to Oprah. I would feel equally stupid asking for a venti Clooney, or a tall Ryan Gosling. Ordering at Starbucks is already not the best thing for your dignity, as it has a way of making you feel like an arbitrary dictator yelling out instructions for your own amusement. "An extra shot! Lightly cooled! Half-caf! SUSPEND WITHIN IT ONE PEPPER FLAKE!"

That's not to even mention that tea has its own ordering issues, given the dangers of combining the name of a person with the word "bag" or "bags."

I'm envisioning a sort of shadow economy where, if you were actually comfortable ordering the Oprah, you could hang around outside Starbucks until some dude came up to you and said, "Pssst. I need you to do something for me. You can keep the change."

Because the real danger is: What if the Oprah is delicious? What if the Oprah is so good that chai drinkers want to convert? If the Oprah chai is extra-wonderful, that will instantly displace "convincing the world he doesn't exist" as the greatest trick the devil ever pulled, because faced with a choice between depriving myself of a delicious chai latte and walking into a store and ordering an Oprah, I have no idea what I would do.

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