I see that pumpkin spice lattes are back. There have been news stories, opinion pieces, and articles about the drink in magazines and on websites. Also, the demon Dagon has invaded my dreams to give me a gentle reminder that even though it’s still summer, it’s time for me to prove my allegiance by drinking one.
But I’m not falling for it this year. Not before late September at least. We’re surviving wave after wave of historic heat. It’s 107 degrees outside! I’ve been drinking iced coffee since April and switching back sounds terrible. Dagon can make me wake up thirsty, but he can’t make me drink.
Walking past the coffee shop on my way to work, I see that they have leaned in. A sign out front says, IT’S NOT TOO EARLY, in big bubbly letters, and there’s an image of a pumpkin spice latte, tall and orange, surrounded by falling maple leaves and cute little gusts of wind, beckoning to me. It gets my attention, but I’m strong. I keep walking. Then Shaitan, the evil jinn, falls into stride beside me and says, casually, that even if it’s hot outside a pumpkin spice latte would taste so good. “And who cares about months or seasons anyway?” he asks. “Coffee shops don’t, and you shouldn’t either. I should know, since demons are eternal and seasons blow past us like dust. One day you’ll be dead and gone, and there will be no more pumpkin spice lattes. Just have one now.”
But I will fight this temptation. I nod politely to Shaitan (as I always do), say, “Maybe in the fall,” and keep walking.
Once I get to work and start checking my social media, it’s wall-to-wall pumpkin spice lattes. There’s a Twitter feud about whether they should go away forever or be a permanent part of the menu. TikTokers have stopped ordering thirty-ingredient drinks they don’t want and started talking about how happy the pumpkin spice latte makes them. There are so many carefully arranged pictures on Instagram, including Baphomet, who friended me the day of the pumpkin spice latte release last year and has posted a tasteful pic of his latte next to a pumpkin scone on a China plate. When did Baphomet get so fancy? I think. Then I notice the small puddle next to the cup. Is that drool? Is Baphomet drooling?
“Yes, I’m drooling,” the caption reads, but I hear it out loud in his guttural voice as a cool, unnatural wind blows through the office. “It’s that good. #PumpkinSpiceLatteForLife #WontWaitForLaborDay #NoRegrets.” I start drooling, too, right onto my shirt.
On my way home, I take a different route to avoid the coffee shop, but I pass another one, of course. People are sitting outside. All of them have pumpkin spice lattes. I can smell them, warm and October-y. The fallen angel Azazel sees me looking at his cup, at the cinnamon flakes the barista added to the top.
“They’ll add cinnamon?” I ask.
“Yes,” he says. He stares into my eyes as I stare into his cup. I feel him burrowing into my head, filling my thoughts with the smell of cloves, the softness of flannel shirts, and cozy sweaters. But no! It’s too late in the day for caffeine! I tear myself away, but when I look up, Satan himself is right in front of me, tall, red, his horns polished, holding a cup without one of those cardboard insulators, because he doesn’t need one.
“They make them in decaf,” he says in a helpful tone.
“Decaf!” I exclaim. “Not today, Satan. I’ll have one in decaf over my dead body.”
Azazel perks up, suddenly eager.
“Sorry to offend,” Satan says. “So then a normal, caffeinated one?”
I hesitate, my will crumbling.
“Fine,” I say, walking past him to go inside. Then, getting in line behind Lilith, Paimon, and Moloch, I say to myself, “Maybe just a small one.” Chernabog gets in line behind me, and we briefly make eye contact. I know I’m ordering the biggest size.