Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Competitive Coffee; Sipping & Social Climbing in the Suburbs

A light-hearted look at ladies and latte...

If you want to watch the big game, don't follow the team bus to the ball field. Just keep your eyes on those mini vans and SUVs each morning after school drop off, and you can catch caravans of competitors rolling into their favorite stomping grounds. Pop into your local coffee shop and youll find teems of suburban moms, driven and ready to rumble. Steer clear as they gear up for their daily grind and a shot for a spot in the hotly contested sport of Competitive Coffee.

In most sports the game is clear - or at the very least, you know when you're playing it. With Competitive Coffee, it gets a bit muddy. While an invitation for a cup-a-joe might seem friendly enough -- trust me-- the challenge of that cup of cappucino runs dark and deep. That cheery call to meet is merely the coin toss. Sure that double skinny machiatto latte is delicious but what makes it taste even sweeter is the unquenchable thirst of social success. You see, in the Starbucks World Cup, its not really about what you're drinking in that venti vessel with the protective cardboard cozy, but rather whos french-manicured fingers have got the strongest grip on the french roast.

In this game, there are no scorecards, but everyone knows the score: And all contenders are NOT created equal. Example: Coffee with the annoying new next door neighbor might get you those critical quantity points, but java with the plastic surgeons pretty wife that ends with an officially scheduled playdate virtually guarantees your cup will runneth over. Sack some juicy gossip? You've just earned the extra point! Like many other sports, the refereeing here can sometimes be questionable. While instant replays are not officially condoned, have no doubt that every detail of play will be hashed over, repeatedly, by Monday-morning-mocha quarterbacks.

In this game, there are no official rules, but every player seems to know them: You need to invite and be invited to attend as many coffees as possible. Advanced players also master the subtle and subversive strategy of "the bragging blitz". With this indispensable manuver, you casually mention your past pairings at your current coffee - or the car pool line - and you can virutally double your score. Match-ups have been medaled on this move alone. There are no standardized team uniforms, but tennis skirts or capris are always cute. In this highly caffeinated, cut-throat competition, its every mom for herself (although Survivor-like alliances are often formed to lure new contenders into the quest for the Cup and a major cafe coup d'etat).

In these games, youve got to keep your schedule percolating: Your date book is your play book. Coffee is one powerful sports drink, and you've got to make every cup count. Its that perfect combination of caffeine and camaraderie that can pump you up with the jittery thrill of victory or leave you sitting home alone, steeping bitterly in the agony of defeat!

Its coffee, tea or meow The right coffee partner is worth fighting for and only the strong will survive. She who drinks the most coffee with the most people winsand thats a fact. At the end of the day, its all about the buzz: Youre either popular, or youre not.

As for me, I dont drink coffee. In fact, Ive never even tasted it. Id like to think that is why I often sit warming the bench - a real second string sipper. But put me in, Coach, 'cause I'm pumped & I know the score... So, would you like to meet for coffee sometime? Game on


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