Humor by Diane Farr

There is a voice in my head that tells me every day not to pay three dollars for a cup of tea. It's not even coffee! And perhaps not even real tea.

The "nonfat, chai tea latte with no water" that I order every day from Starbucks has no tea bag in evidence. Rather, a barista (which is Italian for college educated yet temporarily lost and hating oneself for pouring yuppie drinks) pours my tea from a box into a paper cup. And for this "tea cocktail" I pay 400 times its cost. And I do it daily.

So much so, that my 3-year old recently told a fellow drone in the Starbucks line that the woman/mermaid in the company's logo is me. When I tried to correct my son that it is not a picture of mommy, he whispered: "They took your picture yesterday, Momma while we were waiting in line!"

Which made me realize that I'm not just overpaying for not-so-great tea: I'm waiting in line to do it.

How did this happen to me? I am a woman who was born without any patience. It's like a genetic defect in my family. My father had no patience and he passed the flaw on to me and surely, I will have passed it on to one of my children. Yet, if I find a tiny window for myself in a day, I will use it to drive away from the plethora of teas in my home and office to get a no-fat, chai-tea latte with no water at Starbucks. And not only wait in line for the chance to overpay for this boxed-tea-beverage, but also drive around in circles looking for parking to get it.

Other than the fact that when I make actual chai tea at home, it's never as sweet as one from the mothership, I'm not even entirely sure what it is about this ritual that I'm seduced by every day. This makes me wonder if it's the sugar I'm addicted to, rather than the experience (of waiting and overpaying).

I used to be a smoker. And although I gave up nicotine 10 years ago and only committed my addictive tendencies to Starbucks three or four years ago, I do believe it's possible I am using the cup, the lid and that strange heat protector thingie like a cigarette. I reach for my nonfat, chai-tea latte with no water and just sip it, like I'm taking a drag. And I do so all day. (This, by the way, is why I switched to nonfat, so the milk wouldn't go bad.)

Dr. Drew Pinsky of "Celebrity Rehab" defines addiction to be anything a person continues to do in the face of mounting consequences. I repeat Drew's words when I find myself holding a toddler and yet refusing to put down my nonfat, chai-tea latte. I do all I can to protect them from this hot beverage, inevitably spilling it on myself, my husband, his car or my phone and basically, our lives. But only an addict or a jackass parent would take the risk to begin with. I'm really kinda hoping I'm the former.

But at least I still say "small," "medium" and (on bad days) "large." I have refused to join the Cult of Coffee and rename sizes, even though I have lived in fear that a vernacular change was inevitable since I seem to have no other boundaries -- until today, that is, when I was waiting at the magic circle for my drink, and asked the barista in the newly remodeled Starbucks on my street for directions to the restroom.

It took me a minute to understand what the man meant when he said, "We don't have a public restroom." Of course they have a restroom for their employees, but was his reply just code for "We don't share our toilet with the likes of you"? Meaning the paying customers.

Even a junkie needs to believe that the home-wrecker supplying their fix cares about them, so I'm over Starbucks. I'm quitting my three- to five-dollar-a-day habit cold turkey -- and just in time as they raise their prices "to be more green." (Which I don't believe one bit because Starbucks is already saving money and the environment by hoarding all their toilet paper.)

Diane Farr is known for her roles in "Californication," "Numb3rs" and "Rescue Me," and as the author of The Girl Code: The Secret Language of Single Women.

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