Today I’m thinking about chocolate whipped cream and that, sometimes there really can be too much of a good thing. I asked the young barista at Bloomsbury Coffee House in Ashland for “just a little” whipped cream. She proceeded to pile a chocolate whipped-cream mountain atop my almond milk mocha. I’m not quite sure why she did that. Maybe she wasn’t listening. Maybe it just looked pretty to her. Maybe she loves whipped cream and despite the “just a little” she thought–more is always better. Maybe she just wasn’t paying attention.
My favorite barista of all-time, Diana, back in Honesdale, PA, was the queen of whipped cream. Her whipped cream was all about connection–the more she loved you, the more whipped cream you got. As we became friends, getting a mocha from Diana was like getting a mugful of Mt. Vesuvius in full eruption. You had to have a saucer under the cup and then you had to take big gulps out of the saucer or it would run over onto the table and spread across the floor and out the door onto the sidewalk and down the street all the way to the next town. Yes. Diana had a love-affair with whipped cream. And it didn’t matter that most of the coffee boiled out of the mug with the whipped cream. What mattered was that the gesture warmed my heart and made me feel as if someone out cared that I existed.
Human connection . . . really, that’s what writing is all about. The writer connecting with the reader, or the writer revealing something about her inner world, or the writer illuminating something about what it means to be human. If your stories don’t say “human” in some way, then dig deeper. Put yourself inside your characters. Is the young barista passively aggressive? She really hates her job and does the opposite of what customers ask because she wishes they’d just go the heck away. Is she generous? Does she want to make an impression? Is she hungry? What emotion is behind all that whipped cream? Without emotion, humanity, the writing will be flat. So next time you sit down at your keyboard, write yourself a whipped-cream eruption.