Story Clip: The Letters of Millhouse and Smith

Dear Elliot,

This morning, the mustached barista at the Starbucks on Franklin and 21st – you know, the one with the burly forearms, often to be found wearing suspenders and starched shirts (like he’s dressed up for some sort of sexy grandpa party or something like that – you know the one) – told me to “have a blessed day.” I just about spilled the coffee he was handing me all over his strange little floral-print vest – not that he’s ever once complained of an extra stain or two, I’m sure; nothing says “I am a barista, hear me roar” like a multitude of stains on a floral-print vest. You see, I hadn’t yet realized that hipsters have decided Roman Catholicism is cool again. These things come and go, I suppose. I imagine it’s Jesus’s beard that’s attracting them – and a full, manly beard it was, if Botticelli is to be believed – a worthy model for any gent who rides a bike and dumpster-dives for cardigan sweaters. Jesus was homeless, wasn’t he? I’m sure they love that. For my own part, I can never tell if they’re aiming to look wholesome or addicted to drugs, and I doubt they know the answer themselves. But really, the man said, “You have a blessed day,” earnest out of his mind, and I believe I replied with something like, “Oh, I’m fine, thank you,” which marks the first time I’ve ever spoken with him other than to say, “Just a tall coffee, thanks, dark roast, no room.”

Your brother in Christ,

Hank Millhouse

Dear Hank,

What an odd story! Yes, I do know the barista – and yes, his forearms are very burly indeed. In fact, I was in that same Starbucks just the other day, admiring them as he whipped me up a mocha and a cup full of hot, frothy cream for my boss. Do you think he combs his arm hairs? I can’t help noticing that they lie unimaginably straight on that gorgeous olive skin of his. It’s an odd question, I know, but you mustn’t think poorly of me for observing him so closely – the life of an intern is not exciting, even when the intern in question works for the trendiest firm on the block. The morning coffee run is by far the most stimulating part of my job. Once, my boss didn’t need me to go, ostensibly having had enough coffee before she arrived, and it absolutely ruined my day. I was so put out by it that after work, I went to Starbucks on my own and bought a few of what I know to be her favorite drinks – three or four of the ones I know she really enjoys – and then I sat outside on the curb and drank them all myself, one by one. They got me so wired that I rushed back to the office immediately and drafted three very complex logos. By the way, I can’t believe your usual order is a tall dark roast! What a mean-spirited, parsimonious little order! It’s really no wonder our barista felt you needed a blessing!

Yours, etc.

Elliot Smith


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