waiting in line for a cup of coffee at starbucks. i'm feeling like i need to go to coffee anonymous and confess that i went to starbucks today because there is not another cafe around in the vicinity and because i need to get wifi access immediately. (this particular starbucks doesn't provide free wifi, the network belongs to an adjacent business; most likely case).
anyway, the person in front of me says, "a grande latte please." i'm still waking up because i'm only on my first refill. the thought that races through my head is "starbucks has successfully convinced this person that 'grande' means medium!" how insidious! how terribly fucking linguistically insidious!!! he reminded of me of another occasion when i was at another cafe (an independent one) where there was this silicon valley type engineer in front of me ordering and was having trouble communicating his desired size so he told the barrista that they should use the same "sizes" as starbucks. this jolted me and i blurted out loudly enough, "NO!, small is small, medium is medium, large is large!!!!! why would you want your "sizes" branded? and moreover, why are they branded in different languages using words that don't even work well for designating measure within the set? (articulating terminology that an engineer would understand) and do you even know what the words mean?!!!"
tall is qualitative but not specific. tall in relation to what? what? huh? an espresso cup measured from its base? a pint of beer? a giraffe? tall is an english word, grande is italian and it means "tall, big, heavyset, large, great." what gives? you are going to use two different words that can mean the same thing and it's okay because they are different languages? and what the hell does venti mean? so i looked it up. it means "20," probably referring to 20 ounces as most places size their coffee drinks to 12, 16 and 20 ounce cups. so venti doesn't even mean large! but what the hell, there are poor marketing fooled, blotted people out there who will subscribe to it.
what gets me in the end is i'm not sure which is more insidious, the fact that starbucks has successfully branded sizes or that people are so willing to behave like livestock that they aren't willing to think for themselves. and what really bothers me is a parent who asks their child, "do you want a tall or grande hot chocolate?"