Today I spent four hours in a Starbucks in Temecula, California.
Temecula is one of the New Suburbs here. There’s an Indian casino and a crapload of little box house development, all new. It’s inland and too hot. All of the white guys look like cops here, and all of the nonwhite guys look like gangbangers. I thought I saw an independent bookstore but it was a mormon bookstore.
I drove Bob down there to get dental work done, so I went to Starbucks and paid their ridiculous wi-fi tax and worked for a while. Various gang members, trophy wives, and sad-sack strip mall employees went in and out. Old people sat near me and had earsplitting conversations about real estate prices and their medical problems.
I got work done, and then I read some good fiction. (I can do that now again because the Adderall is working.) But I experienced pain. Let me share my pain with you. My pain is: THE STARBUCKS CHRISTMAS MUSIC.
We all know that there are two types of Christmas music in the U.S. One is the usually religious but musically acceptable set of Old Carols. Almost all of them talk a lot about God or use noninclusive phrases like “born is the king of Israel.” However, the music is old and good.
The second type is the pop music about Christmas written in the second half of the twentieth century. It’s sometimes sentimental, occasionally romantic, rarely theological, and full of the kind of plastic whimsy one sees in Disney films. Little drummer boys and cotton candy snowmen come out of fucking nowhere and the kids are all eating and the grownups are all having snuggly winter sex. The music itself is uniformly emetic.
The management at Starbucks has chosen to play all of the modern pop Christmas music as performed by the following classes of musician: whiney Garrison Keillor country folk artists; breathy little indie girls; assholes with mandolins; safely dead old black guys; that guy from that one old movie; and Paul McCartney. I could almost swear I heard Bright Eyes doing “Frosty the Snowman” and Arlo Guthrie belting out “Let It Snow.” And I’m way serious about the mandolin guys. They are major assholes.
So if you’re somehow in a Starbucks this “holiday season,” enjoy your CinnaNog Blatte or Caramel Mestizo or whatever, but put in earplugs. You might think this is funny, but school’s out when you’re stuck in line and Dave Matthews is scat-singing through “Do You Hear What I Hear.”