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In the great Pumpkin Spice War currently being waged, I've decided to stay neutral.

Just color me Switzerland (not sure exactly what color that might be, except it would probably be a bland, unobtrusive one that blends in and doesn't offend anyone), since I can't see any advantage in picking a side or even opting to play.

However, let me qualify this: I'm not staying out of this in some "what can't we all just get along, I see your point and both sides have merit" sense. No, as far as I'm concerned, this deal is kind of like an Oklahoman's approach to a Notre Dame-Texas game. Sure not rooting for either one, and I'd like it best if both of them could lose.

I don't care much for Pumpkin Spice, and I really don't understand wanting to fight about it.

Now this all starts right around, well, now, every year. That's about the time temperatures begin to cool off, days start getting a little shorter, we start pilfering the candy we bought to give to trick-or-treaters and it appears certain that, despite global warming's best swings, fall is actually going to come around again.

About this time (or perhaps a little earlier, since it looks like everyone is going to follow the "Christmas starts right after the Fourth of July" model), a certain chain of coffee shops I tend to favor announces, somewhat breathlessly, that "Pumpkin Spice Lattes" are back.

This seems to excite a lot of folks. And many of them disregard the fact that, this being Arkansas, it's still probably 80 degrees outside. Instead, they throw on boots and those vests that look like someone tagged a Yeti with the SUV during the last carpool session and didn't want it to go out in vain, and head on down to grab a "PSL."

At first blush, well, what the heck. I mean, if you want to spoil perfectly good, life-sustaining coffee by trying to turn it into the liquid version of what Grandma used to make for Thanksgiving, well, it's your call. I'd look down my nose if I could just keep my eyes open long enough.

But as with most commercial endeavors, the whole thing has gotten kicked into overdrive. Messing up perfectly good coffee has given way to messing up perfectly good doughnuts and air fresheners and breakfast food and even pizza (and yes, I'll admit it: For large portions of my life, pizza WAS a breakfast food.).

There is even pumpkin spice deodorant. I can't even bring myself to ask "why."

Now the beauty of human nature is that, for every over-reaction, there is an equal and opposite, well, over-reaction. And so, we are officially being treated to a veritable PSL Scorn-Fest, a somewhat public shaming of anyone who enjoys sipped a hot beverage that tastes like it was once a Jack O' Lantern. Except it's about as close to an actual pumpkin as those little orange candies that show up about this time of year, too.

Apparently, to at least some, drinking a way-too-sweet dessert in a cup masquerading as coffee, or wanting your car to smell like the kitchen in late November (at least before that unpleasant "Green Bean Casserole" spontaneous combustion) or wanting to dab a little Ode de Fall behind each ear is indicative not just of somewhat compulsive behavior that might even been clinical.

It's also an indication of some degree of vapidity (if that's even a word) that must be scorned and ridiculed at all costs.

And that, grudgingly, is where I have to draw the line. I mean, I may disagree with your beverage choices, but I'll defend to the death your right to drink them. OK, I won't, actually. I mean, I'm not dying, literally or figuratively, for someone else's cup of coffee. But, if you want what amounts to a pumpkin smoothie with a tiny caffeine kicker, well, up to you.

We live in a world with lots of anger. And much of that stems from equally large amounts of judging. So at a time when I'm required to have a stridently held opinion on so many things, I'm going to pass on coffee, cheese cake, candles and doggie treats.

So if you're in line in front of me, go ahead. Jump on up there and order your skinny PSL (and whisper "with whipped cream" under your breath). I won't judge. And if you're worried about me rolling my eyes, well, it's early. My lids are barely open anyway.

Commentary on 10/20/2017

Print Headline: Spicing things up

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