But there they are. Starbucks. Vaginas. Connected by and — a conjunction. One of those little words that you may have learned about in the old School House Rocks video, Conjunction Junction.
What exactly is a conjunction, anyway, and how can it possibly help us make sense of why Starbucks and vaginas are cohabiting in that first sentence?
The Center for Writing Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign defines a conjunction as follows:
Conjunctions are grammatical connectors that link words, phrases, or clauses. A conjunction can indicate the relationship between the elements that it connects in the sentence. Without these, we would not see the relationship.
Aha! So in the very first sentence of this blog post (Starbucks and vaginas.), the conjunction and links those two words together. And in doing so, it helps us see the relationship between them. Basically, and acts like a wedding ring or couples in matching outfits.
Based on the position of Starbucks and vaginas around the word and, we know that they have some sort of relationship. But right now we don’t know exactly what kind.
According to a post by Caitlin Corsetti on Gurl.com — which is your go-to source for all things … well, gurl — there are eight types of relationships you’ll have in your life (although I can only seem to find seven of them):
- The one with all the fights
- The first love
- The clingy one
- The distant one
- The purely sexual one
- The toxic one
- The on-off one
It’s a pretty comprehensive list. I know I’ve had most of those relationships (some with the same person … much like a rollercoaster ride and tilt-a-whirl combined). But which one of these fits the phrase Starbucks and vaginas.
I’m leaning toward the purely sexual one. But maybe that’s just because I’ve seen how they froth the milk at Starbucks … ooooooo … steamy!
Google’s Take On Starbucks and Vaginas
When I search on Google for the phrase Starbucks and vaginas, I come up with 288,000 results.
Wow! Not at all what I was expecting, especially since I thought I had made up that phrase today. (At least I didn’t waste any money trying to trademark it.)
Most of the first-page Google search results are related to a news story about a woman in Hong Kong who was handed a Starbucks cup with Vagina written on it, instead of her name: Virginia.
Does her Starbucks barista hate her?
According to the woman’s sister, Starbucks employees had misspelled her name before, once writing Virgin. This, of course, is much closer to the original. But it’s still not something you want your Starbucks barista calling you. If that’s not a reason to think that Starbucks sucks, then I don’t know what is.
Sexually Explicit Slips of the Tongue
The English language is not always the most forgiving when it comes to slips of the tongue. English is a mishmash of words that originally came from other languages.
So it’s all too easy for innocent words or phrases to go astray, or to go blue, an interesting idiom that means to use sexually explicit or indecent content. This, of course, is different from:
- Go Blue! — a slogan of the University of Michigan Wolverines
- When the Stars Go Blue — a song by Ryan Adams
Given the sheer number of words spoken per minute in English, these slips of the tongue — often referred to as Freudian slips — are inevitable.
The birds do it. The bees do it. Even our leaders do it.
Like the time Senator Ted Kennedy said, “Our national interest ought to be to encourage … the breast,” with his hands cupping the air. He quickly corrected the last part to “the best and brightest.”
Or when President George H.W. Bush once said, “For seven and a half years, I’ve worked alongside President Reagan. We’ve had triumphs. Made some mistakes. We’ve had some sex… uh…setbacks.”
Ah, the infamous sexbacks (649 Google search results, by the way).
As a writer, one of my biggest fears is that I will accidentally write pubic instead of public. All it takes is a lazy right-hand ring finger for your writing to be littered with any of the following Freudian phrases:
- pubic health (76,600 Google search results)
- pubic records (8,950 Google search results)
- pubic good (5,130 Google search results)
- pubic square (2,710 Google search results)
- pubic storage (732 Google search results)
I think for the sake of the pubic good, the government should be spending more money on pubic health and less on keeping detailed pubic records about which groups are hanging out in the pubic square and what dirty, little toys they are keeping at the pubic storage facility.
So, there. It’s all out of my system … I hope.
Some Parents Just Won’t Say Vaginas
I’ve noticed recently that you can roughly divide parents into two categories:
- those that use standard, anatomical terms for describing the parts of the body when talking to their children
- those that prefer sanitized, fluffy, rainbow words so they can avoid thinking dirty thoughts
Netmums.com has a post listing some “nice” words that mothers use to refer to a girl’s vagina, which includes:
- your little girl bits or girly bits (mum has lady bits)
- Mary (this gives a whole new outlook on Mary Poppins)
- foo foo (hmmm … little bunny foo foo?)
- sugar puff
- Lady Bum
- noo noo
- wink (or vajayjay for mum’s)
On the other side, a call-it-like-it-is mother posted on CircleOfMoms.com:
“I taught my son and oldest daughter the correct terminology for their body parts. I think it is important not to make it seem like those body parts are “different” and deserve made up names. I try to make their genitals as natural to them as their elbows are. My thinking is that if I don’t make a big deal out of calling their parts by the proper name, then maybe when they are older they will feel comfortable with their bodies.”
Personally, I’ve never been that comfortable with my elbows. All that wrinkly skin makes me think of Shar Peis, one of the strangest looking dogs in the world.
Starbucks Knows It’s More Fun to Say Vagina
It’s a lot more fun to say vagina than penis.
Well, that’s not exactly what they said. For Starbucks, it was a question of
- small versus tall
- large versus grande
- extra large versus venti
- super large versus trenta
These strange names for drink sizes have no doubt created some confusion at the coffee shop, especially for first-time Starbucks customers.
But just imagine how a child must feel showing up in high school talking about her sugar puff or Twinkie. (And why are so many of the sanitized names for vagina related to sugary junk food?)
Confusion aside, Starbucks hit on an excellent marketing scheme. There’s a certain thrill that comes from ordering a grande maple macchiato. Or a venti caffè mocha. Or even a trenta iced peppermint white chocolate mocha with no-fat and low-foam.
Those all roll off the tongue. These words are filled with the sweet, sophisticated sounds of lounging in the piazza with your Vespa parked nearby, or punting through the canals of Venice while listening to the soothing music of the organetto.
This is the same marketing strategy that Eve Ensler hit on with The Vagina Monologues. Imagine a man trying to write a play called The Penis Monologues.
Oh wait … you don’t have to imagine it any more. It’s already been done … off-broadway.
I’ve never seen The Penis Monologues, or The Vagina Monologues, for that matter. But I’m almost certain that the male version fell short of the luxuriousness of Eve Ensler’s ongoing triumph.
After an hour of hearing the word penis, even men were probably reluctant to talk about their little boy bits ever again.
But … Vagina. Vagina. Vagina.
It just rolls off the tongue.
It’s a perfect word to savor as you sip your triple, venti, half-sweet, non-fat, caramel macchiato at Starbucks while reading a copy of your favorite Christmas story, Yes, Vagina, There is a Santa Claus.
- HK Kln Bay EMAX Starbucks Coffee, Wikipedia
- Starbucks, Baker Street, London, Geograph, Copyright Gary Rogers and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
- Matching Sweaters, Flickr by Aaron Gustafson, Some rights reserved
- Lego Google Logo, Flickr by Cory Doctorow, Some rights reserved
- Starbucks and Vaginas Cup, Facebook by Veronica Goh
- Vagina Monologues by SanFranAnnie, SXSW 2008, Flickr by
Ann Larie Valentine, Some rights reserved