The Other Side of One Latte a Day

Until recently I had a really great morning routine going, which isn’t much to brag about as its singular ambition was “get to the library by 11 a.m.” but nevertheless, the routine was mine and I cherished it. I woke up around 9, laid in bed reading the internet on my phone for way too long, had breakfast probably also in bed reading the internet on my phone, then took a shower, got ready, meditated (thank you, Oprah), and walked four blocks to the library. On the way to the library I would go to the same deli every day and pay $2.50 for a bottle of tea that is allegedly harvested in the Amazon and bottled in Brooklyn. PERRRFECT. As much as a small part of me suspects this tea might actually be poison, it is very energizing (90mg of caffeine per bottle), sugar free, and makes me feel good about my free radicals.

After about Day Two of buying this tea, the young guy that works at the deli said something like, “Hello my beautiful baby! So you really like this tea?”

“Uhh, yeah!”

He walked out from behind the counter and over to the refrigerator where my beloved Amazonian teas were lined up. We both peered in, quiet.

“So, which one do you like best? I’ll make sure we always have it for you.”

This seemed thoughtful if not predicated on me allowing him to continue calling me his beautiful baby. I hesitated, weighing the pros and cons of dealing with his benign but still violating affection for me and having a reliable source for this product I’d convinced myself was primarily responsible for the 4,000 words I had written the morning before.

“The green one!” I told him, and we made our way together back to the counter.

“Okay my darling, I will order it for you and it will always be here. Have a beautiful day.”

So from then on for months I cringed a little as I opened the door and tried to sneak over to my tea supply — always well-stocked — in the back right corner.

“Good morning beautiful, the light of my life!”

I’d give him three dollars, he’d give me 50 cents, I’d hobble with my laptop and my tea over to the library and buzzed on antioxidants and poison I would write thousands of unusable words.

Then one weekend my boyfriend decided to make iced tea. It was not from the Amazon so much as a box of Lipton, but I put it in one of my old Guayasa bottles, feeling just a tinge of betrayal, and took a different route to the library each morning.

A week or so later, the vat of iced tea ran out and I was back at the deli, my tail between my legs. My exotic tea shelf was overflowing.

When I handed the cashier my three dollars without commentary, he didn’t call me beautiful or ask how my day was. He did look at me sideways though as he handed me my change.

“So, baby, did you go on vacation or something?”

Embarrassed, I looked past him out the glass door. It was getting colder out, soon I would need warm tea, or even coffee. I looked back at him.

“Yep, I went on vacation. To Florida. With my family.”

“Florida! How beautiful.”

“Yes, it was wonderful. Have a great day!” I raised my bottle of tea in the air and hurried out the door.


Photo: Paul Lowry



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