It’s raining in New Jersey, the kind of heavy downpour perfect for gloomy pensive days or snuggling on the couch with your cats named after famous fictional women. Or maybe just the kind of day where you reminisce about all the small ways in which Jake Gyllenhaal is not a good boyfriend. As I stomped through inch-deep puddles, I couldn’t help but feel in my cold bones that this is how my master wanted it to be all along. Today is Taylor Swift’s day and I am here to experience a new level of closeness to her beyond my usual practice of tracking her social media and lurking on Swiftie messageboards. I’m going to drink her favorite drink at Starbucks.
On this sacred day, Swift has released Red (Taylor’s Version) a re-recording of her greatest album and the universe has aligned itself to celebrate. It’s also in part a celebration of Taylor Swift outsmarting Scooter Braun who acquired all of her masters and then sold them to someone who was not Taylor Swift.
Mother Nature (a known Swiftie) has crafted perfect sad-girl weather and Starbucks has collaborated with Swift to sell her usual drink order, served to the masses in their holiday cups which, naturally, are already red. According to the Starbucks app, franchises participating in this promotion were also going to be playing Swift’s music all day which is heaven for me but I understand can be trying for others who do not care for the subtle nuances of Swift’s mediocre singing. Leave a big tip at your local Starbucks for the workers sacrificing their ears for this incredible PR stunt.
While it sounds like a joke to anyone who knows me in real life, I love Taylor Swift. I long to understand her as a person rather than just a looming figure in my Apple Music account. So naturally, the opportunity to drink as she drinks just one time was one I would not miss. This drink—a grande non-fat latte with four pumps of caramel—isn’t just a sugary coffee beverage, it is the small actualization of a dream. Ceremonially speaking, this drink is also important, as I am an empty vessel preparing to receive the musical offering of new Red. As the tabernacle must be cleansed before the host can be placed there, so I must be caffeinated before fully immersing my spirit into the waters of Taylor Swift’s mind.
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To borrow a line from the star herself, this drink is perfectly fine. As it is a latte, it’s largely watered down by non-fat milk, which is an acceptable reprieve from the incredibly sweet aftertaste of the caramel syrup that isn’t as much of a saccharine, glycemic assault as I anticipated. I can also taste the coffee that I assume is inside this cup but it is in hiding, much like Taylor was while she was preparing to release folklore.
Drinking this drink is a multi-sensory experience. After a few sips, I really do feel like I am driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street because the caffeine and sugar are filling my bloodstream with uncontainable nervous energy. This is what it’s like to be alive, living as Taylor Swift. But this drink is also a bit of a trust exercise. In The Good Book, there’s a story about Ibrahim being asked to sacrifice his only son to prove his loyalty. In this moment, I am Ibrahim, sacrificing my one stomach to drink non-fat dairy milk even though I am semi-lactose intolerant. I know this will pain me later in the day and I easily could have asked for a non-dairy substitute but without sacrifice, love cannot flourish. I will be one with Taylor today whether it condemns me to the toilet or not.