The coffee mug fight right before I left to sign the papers was the final nail in the coffin of our relationship as far as I was concerned. Every single mug in this place that people use when they stay to drink their coffees are mine. Growing up in a small town, I had nothing but time on my hands to dream about my future and all the places I wanted to go when I was finally old enough to leave. Anytime someone I knew went on vacation, I always asked them to bring me back a coffee mug. In a place where everyone knows your business, it didn’t take long for the entire town to know about my coffee mug collection and help contribute to it over the years. When it was my turn to travel, and when I finally had the money to do so, I kept up with the tradition, always grabbing a mug from the airport gift shop on my way out of town.
I love that my shop doesn’t have boring, matching coffee mugs. I love that when you come in, you never know if you’ll be drinking out of a London cup with Big Ben on it, or an Orlando one with Mickey Mouse ears.
“So, if Benjamin wanting to do away with the mugs gets him castrated and poisoned, do I even want to know what would happen to him if I told you he wanted to change the name of the shop?” I ask, taking a step back when her nostrils flare and she growls low in her throat.
“Excuse me? Can I get a triple, Venti, soy, half-sweet, non-fat, Caramel Macchiato? With extra Caramel drizzle?”
Bettie and I turn to see a twenty-something woman standing on the other side of the counter and looking up at the menu board in confusion. I knew as soon as the first couple of words left her mouth that this wouldn’t end well. The majority of young women who frequent Liquid Crack are college students from DePaul. Some of them are normal and order their coffees like the smart, college-educated people they are, while others are like this chick. They speak every sentence with an upward inflection, like every word out of their mouth is a question and they have no idea what the fuck they’re doing.
“We should go for drinks later?”
“I just bought these new jeans, but I’m not sure they look good?”
She’s probably confused because there are only three items on the menu and she’s assuming everything else is just written in invisible ink. Or the NorthFace jacket, black leggings, and Uggs she wears year-round have officially turned her stupid.
Bettie leans across the counter on her stomach and looks down at the girl’s feet, then pulls herself back and turns around to face me when she speaks. “You are a disgrace to coffee. Go away before I yank off those stupid Uggs and beat you with them. IT’S ALMOST JUNE! NO ONE WEARS FUR-LINED BOOTS IN THE SUMMER!”
With her back to the confused college student, Bettie lifts her arm and points to the door.
I know you’re probably thinking that as her boss, and the owner of the shop, I should apologize profusely to the customer, offer her a free coffee and make Bettie apologize.
Well, you would be thinking wrong.
I mirror Bettie, holding my arm out and pointing to the door without saying a word. Miss Venti-Soy-Blah-Blah-I-Can’t-Read scurries away and out of the building, wisely realizing the chick with all the tats could easily vault over the counter and make good on her Ugg-beating promise.
Bettie and I share a high five when the bell rings above the door as she exits. As weird as this may seem, this is another reason why Liquid Crack became so popular. We taught an entire generation of college students and hipsters who live in this area how to appreciate a plain, simple cup of coffee. We aren’t complete assholes, though. After living in Chicago for twelve years, I can spot a tourist as soon as they walk through the door. Bettie was born and raised in Chicago and can smell them from a mile away. They get a free pass when they come in here and a warning not to pull that Starbucks shit again if they decide to come back. For everyone else, they better learn how to read or get the hell out.
“I don’t know if it’s safe for you to tell me what Benjamin thought you should change the name of this place to. I’m feeling very ragey this afternoon,” Bettie says, grabbing an empty Traverse City, Michigan mug a customer slides across the counter and taking it over to the sink.
“Brewlicious, Coffabulous, or Roastacular,” I mutter, cringing and scrunching up my face in disgust with each name I speak that Benjamin insisted would work much better for a franchise than Liquid Crack.
The coffee mug slips from Bettie’s hands and splashes into the sink of water when she whirls around and presses her hand over her heart.
“Was he abused as a child? First the coffee mugs, and now the Frankenstein-like mash-up of two perfectly good words to make new, horrible ones. Why does he insist on doing that? Every time he calls you fantabulous, an inch of his dick disappears,” she complains, crossing her arms in front of her.
Bettie’s outrage makes me feel much better about my decision to end things with Benjamin, even if he hasn’t gotten the memo yet. I haven’t even told her all the other things he suggested I change and argued with me about, going so far as to call the lawyers and investors on his own with the hopes that they’d agree with him. Lucky for me, they didn’t. They knew what made Liquid Crack special, and they weren’t about to change it.
“Forget Benjamin and his freaktastically disappearing dick. You are now the proud owner of a coffee franchise and you don’t need him,” Bettie reassures me as my cell phone rings from its shelf under the counter. “And better yet, you’ll be so rich and famous when Liquid Cracks start opening up all over the world that you’ll never have to set foot in that podunk town you grew up in ever again!”