Editor’s note: Today, we introduce a name for Lesley Kirschner‘s column. As we’ve gotten to know Lesley through her delightfully chaotic life and self-effacing humor, “Wish You Were Here” seemed perfect for several reasons, the least of which has anything to do with her dream of one day seeing Milo Ventimiglia walk through her front door. Twice a week, as she invites us into her escapades, escapes and daily existence and we laugh along with her, all we can say is, “We’re there with you, Lesley. Wouldn’t dream of missing it.”
It’s the day before we leave for vacation and I’m sitting on the side of the road, swigging from a bottle of Children’s Benadryl.
On a positive note, I guess things can only get more drowsy from here. I could easily fall asleep, especially looking at Junior passed out in his car seat, one lone Cheerio stuck to his forehead, and my younger daughter next to him, belting something that would easily have her eating soap 30 years ago. Ah, to be young and noise canceled and blissfully unaware of your own mother’s impending anaphylaxis.
As my tongue swells to something far larger than tongue size, a slow reel of my life flashes in front of me. Imagine, everything from that leg in the grocery store did not belong to my mother (MIA in IGA, circa the toddler years), down to, ‘Damn, why did I drink that latte? Why did I drink that latte?’
Does everything happen for a reason? Is this fate? Me, here with what I thought was oat milk that turned out to be whole milk, sitting on the side of the road, struggling to breathe while a duck craps on my windshield.
Like the rest of the world, I have food allergies. This is not something “made up” or “convenient,” nor is it something I necessarily enjoy. Rather it’s something I’ve learned to tolerate and manage, mostly with a strict, cardboard-based diet and lots of not-so-gentle reminders while ordering out.
I cannot say enough good things about the Wilton Starbucks baristas, who all deserve raises, better ventilation and a free trip to somewhere exotic and decaffeinated. I’ve become, in a word, spoiled … never having to worry if someone didn’t rinse out the canister or make a special point of writing, in BIG, BOLD LETTERS: dairy allergy. Can the town chip in for a sign that says, “Leaving Wilton…please drink responsibly.” Nevermind, I can see now how this might be grossly misinterpreted.
I’ll give you the short version. I didn’t die (obviously). I did complain. Or rather my mother complained for me because I’m 40 and still can’t handle any type of confrontation. I didn’t think you could put a price on someone’s life (in this case, mine), but apparently, you can, and apparently, $25 credited to my app more than sufficiently made up for my whole whose-leg-is-it-anyway-and-don’t-drink-the-latte near-death experience. Hindsight’s a Venti full of fun, man, I’ll tell ya.
Fast forward a few months. I’m retelling this whole tale of woe that was a lot to unload on a complete stranger, or more aptly, on Janet, the poor barista at the local coffee shop near my parents’ house, who drops an entire package of straws following a close call that would have meant an ER visit brought to her exclusively by the espresso machine steamer.
I, myself, worked as a barista for exactly three weeks once (at a very similar establishment), so I consider myself somewhat of an expert on what not to do with the foamer thing.
“You’re doing great,” I say.
“You think so?” she manages.
Not really, I want to tell her. Run, save yourself, Janet. Go get a college education and a nice starter husband while your collagen is still your own and your hips don’t resemble that of a rotisserie chicken. Go … now, before you lose your soul to this place or some ‘Seattle-based coffeehouse chain known for its signature roasts, light bites and WiFi availability.’
I can’t help it, I do still love Starbucks, even if they wronged me, even if I almost ended up a roadside statistic, like what used to be my windshield, even if I almost—
“DON’T DRINK THE LATTE!” Janet screams, following me out to my car, her arms flailing like a big emergency as she grabs the cup and, before I can stop her, heaves it into the bushes.
“You didn’t drink it, did you?” she squeaks out.
The poor girl is parched, proud and altogether such a close second to Amy Schumer, it makes me want to run out and buy an industrial size box of Tampax faster than my flow is heavy.
She’s still interrogating me. “The latte?! God, it took me a minute to process what you were saying before about the mix-up at Starbucks and you almost dying. But you’re not dead … right?”
Where were the cameras? “I don’t think so, Janet.”
“That was whole milk,” she gushes. “Whole milk! And why would you order that!? What were you even thinking!? I mean you weren’t thinking, clearly … unless,” (light bulb moment) “you said ‘oat milk’ and I heard ‘whole milk’ and maybe that’s what happened to you at Starbucks … You said ‘oat milk’ and she heard ‘whole milk’ and … I can make you a new latte … with the right kind of milk,” she says, watching as my gaze falls to the chalk outline of what after all that brewing and almost second-degree burning is probably better off dead in the bushes anyway.
“Oh my gosh, thank you. I … I don’t know what I was thinking,” I say. And she’s so taken with herself for taking away what (in her eyes) might have murdered me that I don’t have the heart to tell her that the whole milk latte I ordered was actually for my mother.
Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.