Imagine you’re a die-hard Lynrd Skynrd fan (that may not be hard for some of you). Anyway, you’re at a concert with 40,000 other like-minded fans, patiently awaiting “Freebird” and then, upon hearing the opening notes, the stadium erupts with the kind of joyful enthusiasm once reserved for those actively involved in the tearing down of The Berlin Wall. Have you adequately imagined this feeling? Well, if you have, then you’ll understand how much I anticipate the arrival of pumpkin season at Dunkin’ Donuts. And how happy it makes me to drink it. There is no coffee like Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin coffee. It’s perfect. Normally I take my coffee with cream, no sugar. But this coffee is so magically delicious that it requires none of the usual accoutrements. Normally I am a whore for the cream in my coffee, but cream actually ruins the pumpkin coffee experience for me.
They’re pretty cagey, the folks at Dunkin’ Donuts, because they make the coffee available about two weeks prior to the annual unveiling of The Pumpkin Muffin. The coffee serves as an appetizer of sorts. It whets your whistle and readies your taste buds for the flavor explosion that is The Pumpkin Muffin. The tastiest, moistest, and most delicious muffin ever! As moist as the morning dew.
I could continue to wax poetic about pumpkin products, but it’s difficult to do so while complaining. I try like hell to avoid being annoyed during this, my favorite time of the year. It’s kind of how “Christmas people” can put aside Aunt Lou’s insistence on bringing her Yorkie to Christmas Eve dinner. And feeding “Teacup” from her lap? It’s fine. In fact, “Get him a mug of nog!” This type of behavior just won’t fly at the Labor Day barbecue, but allowances are made, you know, because it’s Christmas. So, as much as I hate to cast a pall over pumpkin season, there are some things that a person just cannot let slide.
I had really been looking forward to my daughter’s first field hockey game of the season. Traditionally, on the way to her games, I stop and get myself a large pumpkin coffee, which makes the whole “watching them lose again” experience far more bearable. Very often the pumpkin coffee is the only part of the evening that I can comfortably stomach. In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably reveal that while I certainly enjoy field hockey, not to mention being one of the only spectators who actually understands the rules, I suspect that the pumpkin products play more of a role in this enjoyment than I care to admit.
Now, no one would ever describe me as gleeful, but that’s how I felt as I waited in line at the local DD. The closer I got to the counter, the more excited I became. Finally, one of the workers asked me what I wanted. I happily ordered a large pumpkin coffee. She looked around in a confused manner and said, “We don’t have it.” I pointed out the seven large signs that would lead me to believe otherwise. She changed her tune to “We don’t have it yet.” Not quite ready to give up, I explain to her that my coworker had brought me one the previous morning (Sadly, it was “iced”. I don’t do iced coffee of any variety). “Did he get it here?”, she asked, “At this location?” She had me there. “Probably not.”, I conceded.
So, disappointed and, truth be told, more than a little agitated, I ordered my usual french vanilla with cream. Ho-hum. Just then The Pumpkin Coffee gods smiled upon me. Another worker, overhearing our exchange, confirmed that they did, indeed, have pumpkin coffee. Success!
She rings me up, I pay, and she hands me the coffee. It’s a medium. I tell her that I ordered a large. She tells me that I paid for a medium. I hand her another dollar. She just stands there staring at me. Staring at me! And she pushes my dollar toward me. Then, she stares past me and says, “Next!” Next? We are not finished here, lady! Realizing that I now have only five minutes until game time, I slide my stupid, useless dollar across the counter and walk out feeling more than a little dejected. I am cheered, however, by the knowledge that a medium pumpkin coffee is better than no pumpkin coffee at all.
I get to the game and say my “hellos” to the other Field Hockey Parents. This being the first time many of us have seen each other since last year, some of them want to engage in chit chat. I have no time for this tomfoolery! I think they sense my distraction. Perhaps they chalk it up to my kid playing a new position this year (it was brought up by several of the thwarted chit-chatters already). It’s not. My inability to banter breezily is because I am focused on getting my first sweet, sweet taste of the nectar that is my first pumpkin coffee of the season. Eventually, the whistle blows. The game has begun. I pop the top, take in the spicy aroma, and take a sip. “What the fuck? That idiot put cream in my pumpkin coffee! Aaaaaargh!”
P.S. They lost the game 3-2.