Sunday, February 14, 2010

suck it

When I was in my twenties in Sweden all of my friends, or almost all of my friends, and I, smoked. You were allowed to smoke in bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, and there were designated smoking areas in university buildings, work places, and in every public waiting area. People smoked everywhere. Waiting for the bus, driving, and at home. You could smoke in air planes. One of my former boyfriends commented years later that I had been the only one able to smoke while riding my bike. I don't think that was true. I saw lots of people do it.

Yesterday I went for a walk on the trail in my little California town. I walk most days. Lots of people use the trail, most of them doing some kind of serious exercise. Biking, running, hiking. The trail goes to the mountains and you can get a good workout.

I met this couple. We didn't talk, they just came towards me on the trail. They were ordinary enough, dressed in exercise outfits, walking briskly. The man held a cup of coffee in his hand. You see that a lot, actually. People get coffee at one of the cool downtown coffee places, and take it on the trail. It looks weird to me. How do you keep a decent pace while handling hot coffee? And why would you want to walk and drink out a cup at the same time?

Then it hit me. Coffee is the new smoking.

Coffee drinking fills the same emotional needs as smoking does. It's something to hold onto in life. Like a teddy bear. And, it's something to suck on, like a pacifier or a mother's nipple. I think that's why those plastic containers, or the straws, are so popular.

It's also something to help build your own personal brand. Your identity. People's coffee orders are complex and specific because we think that is a way of knowing who we are. Just as smoking Marlboros or Camels made my friends and me into who we thought we were. People know turn into "Peet's People", or "vanilla soy latte", "tall" or "short".

I did a little googling, and here is the most complicated Starbucks order on the interwebs: "a tall half-skinny half-1 percent extra hot quad shot (two shots decaf, two shots regular) latte with whip".

That kind of reminds me of my 27 year old self, rolling my own cigarettes from a specific brand of Norwegian tobacco, and smoking them in 1950s cigarette holders.

4 comments:

Petra H said...

Vad konstigt att vara ute och gå i skogen med en mugg kaffe! Men det är väl för att jag är svensk och fortfarande tycker att det är jobbigt att gå med en kaffe i handen. Jag kan dricka ur en flaska medan jag går, men varm dryck ur en mugg känns inte lika säkert.
Det är förresten som puertoricanerna som är ute på "powerwalks" här i mitt område och pratar i telefon samtidigt... Det är inte något högre tempo på dem ;-)
Intressant teori och jämförelse med cigaretter, du har säkert rätt!

Lotta K said...

visst är det knäppt! det ser extremt obekvämt ut. jag ser också folk som pratar i telefon (och hör!). bra ide om man vill ta vara på tiden kanske, men ibland vill åtminstone jag vara ifred...

cecilia said...

Försök manövrera en mclaren sulky på buckliga, o jämna backinga SF gator medan du håller en take out mugg med warmt decaf soymilk extra foam latte in handen, attans vad du bränner dig:)

Jag var ingen roll-up person, jag var straight up Marlboro for years, tills jag äntligen bet i sura äpplet och insåg att marlboro light minskade antalet migrän attacker.
Sen slutade jag ju helt, utan några problem vilket alltid har retat gallfeber på min mindre viljestarka man:)

Lotta K said...

Jag var straight up marlboro också, när jag hade tröttnat på rullandet. Men latte, det dricker jag inte!