September 12, 2013

Ah, fall!

And by, “Ah, fall!” I mean, “We have just barely turned the corner of September, and outside it is something absurd like 88 or 90 degrees, with a low of 70, which is hotter than it was for most of the actual summer, but, dang it, we have reached the precise point in the revolution of the Earth around the Sun where they start serving pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks.”

President Obama and a pumpkin A harmless necessary gourd. (Linda Davidson / Washington Post)

It is in no way hyperbole or a misquotation of Benjamin Franklin to say the the Pumpkin Spice Latte is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

The pumpkin spice latte tastes like the man of your dreams coming up to you on the sidewalk and saying he thinks the Oxford comma should be standard.

I am only exaggerating slightly when I say that when I got a pumpkin spice latte it cured my leprosy, patiently explained the concept of health-care exchanges and taught me how to love.

Then it brought George Lucas to me and he apologized for everything, said he valued my input and loyalty, and we hugged it out with tears in all four of our combined eyes.

How to express the depth of these feelings? I love the pumpkin spice latte even more than I hated “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

Actual Fall is to the Fall evoked in the Pumpkin Spice Latte what your actual high school was to all those television high schools with their neatly assorted tables of Geeks, Athletes, Misfits, and Cheerleads. It is glossier, more attractive and too perfectly distilled to be real, but it is absolutely delicious. Real Fall has puddles. In the Dream Fall evoked by the Pumpkin Spice Latte, everyone is wearing nicely coordinated trench coats, the leaves crunch perfectly underfoot, and your jack-o-lantern disappears the day it is no longer wanted, instead of lingering and suppurating on your porch for several months until you can no longer receive visitors.

You are probably objecting that I have drunk the Kool-Aid, but I can assure you: what I have drunk is much, much more delicious than Kool-Aid.

People complain that the PSL is most appealing to white women in yoga pants, but if that is the case, why does Ryan Gosling pop up from behind the counter whenever you buy one and blow you a kiss, whispering in a low tone that he respects you as a person? Okay, never mind, I just heard myself.

Yes, the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and our side of the Earth is growing colder, but there is pumpkin to solace us. Who needs sunshine when there is pumpkin? I love pumpkin and pumpkin-flavored things so much that I saw “Pumpkin” with Christina Ricci, which was a huge disappointment on a number of levels. I love pumpkin so much that, if I were accepted to Hogwarts, the part that would most greatly excite me would be not the magic but rather the access to pumpkin juice, which is a kind of magic all its own. I consider Pumpkin Chunkin to be a kind of blasphemous cruelty to a gourd that has given us only good things, like a less passive-aggressive version of the Giving Tree.

But people have been unjustly maligning this seasonal gourd and this beverage, which is a drink of joy and wonder, combining pumpkin and caffeine, complaining that when fall comes around they are stampeded by hordes of women in yoga pants baying ferociously. I cannot speak for everyone, but if you got in my way I am sorry, and I hope your hip knits.

I realize that in the annals of World Concerns this does not rank particularly highly. This is what used to be known as a First-World Problem. As far as Good Uses of Your Time and Passion, it ranks slightly above Feeling Ardently That White Cannot Be Worn After Labor Day and slightly below Having Strong Font Preferences And Deep Thoughts About Kerning. But nonetheless it must be said: I believe in the great pumpkin.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.
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