Did you know there are actually places in this country where you CAN'T find a Starbucks? I know, it is a sad thought. Coming from a city where on certain street corners you can actually take your choice between the three Starbucks within eye-shot, this dearth of Starbucks is more of a shock to the system than a triple shot espresso.
Here we are in relatively rural South Carolina visiting my parents. We have grown accustomed to the latte withdrawal over the years and we just make sure that we savor that last grande on our way out of town to start the 8 hour drive. I figure, they gave me life, kept a roof over my head and paid for my education; the least I can do is go grande-soy-chai-tea-latte-less for 48 hours or so in order to see them a couple times a year. It's not easy, but hey, I love them, right?
So imagine my glee when my father told me there was "Starbucks-type" coffee place just down the road from their house on the golf course. After Ethan was down for a nap, I grabbed my keys and scooted down the road. I turned right at the Fish House, a restaurant that has a gigantic fiber glass shark busting through the roof of the building. It's quite the landmark.
And so I arrived at the latte place. Thus began my religious experience for the day. I should have been clued in by the shop's logo--a coffee cup with steam in the shape of a halo. I opened the door and immediately saw that they had two cushy couches, a la Central Perk and cute little lamps and coffee tables. The couches were upholstered in denim, but I guess it is rural South Carolina after all, so its' not like they furnished the place at Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn.
At the counter, I read the menu--the blakcboard with the perfectly penned list of drinks and options. What is it about that perfect hand-writing you always see on coffee shop blackboards? Is penmanship part of the interview process? What happens if the person with the impeccable handwriting is sick on the day that the specials change? Can they even open the shop?? I swear, only first-grade teachers and coffee-shop employees have this ability to write their letters in perfectly straight lines and such impossible neatness. Not to mention the little curlique embellishments on the sides.
After placing my order (I cringed saying, "medium" instead of "grande", but I didn't want to seem like a big city snob, you know?), I looked around waiting for her to see if they still have any soy milk.
This is when I saw it....the stone tablet replica of the Ten Commandments on the wall. I thought "oh, I bet those are cute coffee shop commandments, like "Thou Shalt Not Spill" and squinted to get a better look at them, hoping for a laugh. Nope. "Thou Shalt Not Kill" was right there as #6. Eek. Pretty heavy reading while just standing around waiting for the milk to steam for your latte. I am much more accustomed the the little bulletin board poster at my local Starbucks that says, "Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy". See, there's a commandment in there, but it's subtle. And perhaps way more appropriate for a public place that's taking my money in exchange for something as secular as coffee.
Then I started scanning the room. On the coffee table were no fewer than 3 different books with "Jesus" somewhere in the title. On one of the far walls was a shelf with statues of Mary and Jesus and wire doves adorning the all behind them. Above the door was a wooden cross. Suddenly the halo over the mug in the logo made sense---here I was, good little Jewish girl, in a Christian coffee shop. Mkay. Thankfully, answering "Have you accepted Christ as your personal savior?" was not part of the ordering process.
I had no problem with this--I guess whoever is paying the rent on the shop has the right to decorate it as they choose and honestly, 99.999% of people going into that shop are probably going to the same church together every Sunday morning anyway. I'm just a Jew passing through. No need to keep me in mind when they decorate, I guess. But it did remind me why I live in a more diverse place--if the coffee shops in DC had posters of Jesus on the wall, they'd probably also have a basket of yalmulkas at the door and a pile of prayers carpets next to the couch.
My problem with them was that their Chai sucked. Seriously, people. If you're going to open a coffee shop and offer something besides plain old coffee, learn how to make something besides plain old coffee. It's what Jesus would do....