I have a guilty pleasure. About once a month, on a morning when I am out doing errands, I stop in at our local Barnes and Noble. I buy a skinny vanilla latte at the Starbucks counter and spend an hour or so browsing the aisles. There you have it. My guilty pleasure.
Huh? Where’s the guilt in that? Let me explain.
I have never, ever been a coffee drinker. One sip in high school was enough to convince me that it would take too much effort to develop a taste for it. I decided to stick with ice water. I still remember my mother’s dismay when, as a young woman, I told her I couldn’t abide the taste of coffee. “But, what are you going to drink when you get together with friends for a cup of coffee?” To this day, I think she doubts my defense that water would be an acceptable substitute.
Times change. Forty years had passed and I decided to give it another try. I was shopping at a Barnes and Noble with one of my daughters and she convinced me to try a Starbucks vanilla latte. I added a packet of Splenda and took a hopeful sip. I hope you won’t think badly of me when I tell you that I needed four packets of Splenda before I was able to get it down. Why bother? Just give me the sugar packets. I assumed my coffee drinking experiences were over forever.
However, about a year ago I decided to give it another try. If millions of people worldwide can develop a taste for this stuff, well then, so can I! I was in a Barnes and Noble on a cold winter’s morning and decided to try a peppermint skinny latte. I quickly discovered that there has been no substantive change in my taste buds, but with the addition of sugar, to the same tune of four packets, I found it tolerable. Therein is the ‘guilt’. $3.57 for a drink that I find only tolerable. Really?
Well, to my credit, I kept ‘practicing’ and gradually realized that I have forged a comfortable connection between that skinny latte and my pleasure….. browsing the shelves.
My visit this morning was typical. After I got my drink, I slipped into the rows nearest the vendor to check out the biographies and autobiographies. Rawhide Down and Fanny Crosby: An Autobiography both look interesting and I jot down the titles in the handy notebook I keep in my purse.
I wandered over to the section on India to see if they have added any new titles since I last looked. Next, I check to see if there is a sale table set up. On this visit I find a book entitled The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy. It actually looks quite interesting and for only $2 how can I go wrong? I tuck it under my arm and continue to browse.
I stop in the computer section and scan the table of contents in WordPress for Dummies. I know it would be a good book to have, but the $25 price tag deters me and I put it back on the shelf.
I head to the Christian book section where our local BN actually has a nice selection. I pull out title after title looking for possibilities for my reading group, making a mental note of an author. With coffee in hand and book under my arm, I don’t go to the trouble of taking out my notebook and just hope I will remember the name.
The How To section of the store is next on my agenda; I want to see how much information I can find on how to plan a wedding ceremony. I discover that among the several dozen wedding planning books on the shelves, only cursory attention is devoted to the actual ceremony. The lion’s share of each book deals with the pageantry of the occasion and the details of the reception. I tuck that thought away for future reference and move on. (As an aside, yes, I admit I use BN as a sort of library.)
I check out the Bargain Book racks. I am very tempted to get yet another cookbook before I remind myself that I have resolved to NOT buy any more; the internet has all the recipes I need. As I resolutely put the zillioneth edition of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook back on the shelf and walk away, I spot a children’s book I read aloud to my kids. “Oh! I need to get that for Bean! (my soon-to-be born first grandchild), but common sense immediately kicks in as I realize it will be a number of years before baby appreciates the delightful world of Frog and Toad.
As I approach the checkout counter I pass by some beautiful journals and notepads, but manage to restrain myself. And so I make it out of Barnes and Noble, after a lovely hour of poking around and enjoying myself immensely, for a mere $3.57 plus $2 spent on the book.
Some people may wonder, “Why not just go and shop? Forget the coffee.” Well, I had almost reached that same conclusion myself until I read about a study just published by the National Institutes of Health. A study of 400,000 men and women over the course of 13 years showed that the coffee drinkers had a lower risk of death overall than those who did not drink coffee.
Bottom line: coffee drinkers live longer.
I don’t know if a once a month latte from Starbucks is going to make much difference for me, but at least this news eases my conscience a bit about the $3.57. When I drink it in the future I can remind myself that it is actually good for me. Bottoms up!