The Starbucks Name Game: Who's Your Alias?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012 09:01 Jennifer Devore
You know you do it, sometimes. I've yet to meet very many whom haven't, at least once or twice. The amusing practice of the Starbucks Name Game is about as much fun as one can have standing in line.

Even more fun than the Name Game itself, is playing with someone whom is, as yet, unaware. Funny enough, there's an unspoken etiquette to the game, even to the uninitiated. If the cohort in question becomes slightly confused upon hearing you proffer your alias upon the requisite, " ... and your name?", most will simply shoot a sly, sideways glance and never say a word. My sisters-in-law are exceptionally respectful of this rule. They've heard all my Starbucks names, rarely bat an eye and have never once said, "That's not your name!". Beware, he who calls out the charade! For shame!

My Starbucks names are varied, but few: Lourdes, Hannah, Veronica, Brigitte and, one time, Saffron. Lourdes is my standard. Hannah and Lucy were de rigueur for my sister-in-law and Moi at Comic-Con this summer. Occasionally, I'll go with Veronica, mostly at Orange County locations. Initially, I adopted Veronica in an effort to promote my latest novel The Darlings of Orange County. My bright idea?  All my friends and fam in the book should use their character names as their Starbucks names. "Lorelei" tried once, but got all nervous, stammered, then just blurted out her own name. "Ryan" did it a few times, to amuse me and "Pardo" seems to have chickened out altogether after getting all nervous at a La Jolla Starbucks, à la Lorelei. Pardo? Quad shot over ice? Pardo? See how nicely that works, especially at an Encinitas store, where his character resides. I go for café often with Pardo and Ryan; both refuse to amuse me anymore.

My first Starbucks name was Brigitte, which I happily used for nearly a year, until one too many baristas misspelled and/or mispronounced my name. It's bri-ghee-tah. Not Bridget. Brigitte, with the final e pronounced strongly, as in Porsche. (Yes. Please, people, Porsche is a family name, a German name. In German, that trailing e is pronounced, strongly. Not Porsch ... Porsche. I know from firsthand knowledge. I speak German, not as well as French but better than Italian, and can get by adequately. Ist es nicht vertig, meine Hiltrud? Also, mein Vater owned a couple of the great, rumbly beasts. The first one he bought, he accidentally drove in reverse when driving it off the lot, waving goodbye to the sales staff. It's clear where I get my dork genes.)

Lourdes, my go-to go-by, proves difficult for many a barista as well: Lordis, Lotus, Lortus, Loordin, Lorus, Lordus and so on. Still, it's easier than Brigitte. To be fair, a barista in Portland, Maine not only spelled it correctly, but called it out in the proper, French pronunciation: no s. Cheers, Portland!  

There once was a fellow I knew named Pete. Pete was a tall, uberkind, Dutch-type and a veterinarian from Aliso Viejo. He patronized a Starbucks just down the road in Laguna Hills and there, he was known as Pedro and he was not a veterinarian, but a construction worker. He did drive a pick-up truck (large animal vet, by training and education), but was a snazzy dresser and very Norlander-looking. How he pulled it off effectively each morning, I'm not sure.

Now, to be fair, one of the original Name Gamers is my brother-in-law. Zim, we'll call him. Zim has used the name "Lord" for ages. Like Cher or Madonna, it's just Lord. For full disclosure, he is in fact, an English lord of sorts: an occurrence of title which happened well after the Starbucks fun had commenced. Not nearly as romantic, historic or posh as a royal grant given a family ancestor under the auspices of Charles II or some such nonesuch. Yet, not in an altogether different manner than many a nobleman throughout history, he bought his way into a title.

Zim purchased a wee bit o' land yonder and, voila! ... is now Lord Devore, really. He still eats bisquits and gravy like an animal, but he's an English land-holding lord nonetheless. There is probably little effect day-to-day, however whenever he books a Virgin Atlantic or British Airways flight, he can verily tick "Lord" in the Title-dropdown box when entering his name. Now, that might get him early boarding and perchance an upgrade, if space is available. I've always deemed this Lord business of Zim's as a wildly fun divertissement. I very well may follow his lead. I may have been born an Only Child, but not a contessa, and I should have been. I blame my ancestors. Zim, if you're reading, be a doll, give us a link or two. Contessa Devore has a very nice ring indeed. Together, we could rule Christmas.

Why do all this, you ponder? What kind of wackadoo not only makes up a fake name for café, but then writes about it? A writer. Nice to meetcha! I love names, I always have. When I was very wee, preschool-wee, I had a fave doll whom I named Miss Anais Thirinkous Ornistinous. She was Greek, apparently. I had a Hawaiian rag doll Daddy bought me on vacation and I named her Penina Noelani. (Noelani is actually one of my middle names. Hmm. Maybe that's where I get it. Maybe it's innate, as I do have three middle names.) I name my laptops (Farfel, Charlie Brown), my luggage (The Judson T. Welliver Society), my pets have all had middle names (Ichabod Wolfgang Crane, Catrina Tituba, Onyx Treacle, Bella Lugosi, Constanze Wolfy) and, like any good, California girl, I've always named my cars: in order, Gidget, Gromit, Petra Petrovich, Adm. Horatio Jameson, Lord Kilwillie. I even named my Starbucks cards, really: the original is Little Jerry Seinfeld, whilst my Starbucks Gold card is C-3PO.

Now that you know, in case you were one of the uninitiated, will you play the Starbucks Name Game? What will your Starbucks name be? Already play the Name Game? Who is your alias? If you're patronizing, or working at, a SoCal Sbux and hear a barista call out, or perchance you are the barista, "Iced Venti Americano with two pumps of raspberry?" or, in the autumn, "Pumpkin Spice Latte made with soy, no whip?" for Veronica, Lourdes, Hannah, Saffron or maybe even Magnolia, for I sometimes call myself Magnolia, look around ... it just might be Moi!


P.S. If you are a Darlings of Orange County character, especially when in the O.C. (don't call it that), be a mensch, use your Darlings name pour Moi? That's you Kieran, Ceasar, Chet, Lorelei, Dr. Mandy, Tucker, Sasha, Astrid, Pardo and Sugar Belle. In fact, you don't even need to be a namesake. Feel free to use any of my character names for your Starbucks name! I'd love to hear Pardo, Astrid or Sugar Belle called out one day!

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