I erased the chalkboard today. Not all of it, mind you, not even most. But some. And I even made changes, rather than simply giving a fresh coat to the old words.
I changed "dopio" to "doppio" fixing the misspelling that had been a running joke for years. Similarly, "con panne" was corrected to "con panna". The manager that had written the menu originally did not speak Italian, clearly, and had not bothered to check the spellings. The result was occasionally a stern correction, but more often it was simple jest. But it's fixed now, if for no other reason than I hate looking quite that dumb.
But that was minor, small errors on a small section of the menu most people never look at. The sizes were bigger - excuse me, grande. We, like so many others, aped Starbucks (which was aping some imagined Italian ideal) in our cup-size names: Tall, Grande, and Venti. People made the usual jokes, asked the usual questions, and wondered sometimes why we didn't give the usual corrections. We allowed orders to be small, even encouraged it. Now the chalkboard does too. Finally - and I only wonder why not sooner - we've lost that linguistic albatross, and taken the intuitive approach.
A new era!
No one noticed; or at least, no one mentioned noticing. The same things happened, with the same people, and it all felt like a favorite sitcom episode, making drinks where everyone knows your name, and you're oh so glad they came. It was as cozy as some imaginary pie cooling on the family quilt in a window next to a crackling fire, only more so, because it was real, and espresso is better than pie.
The imagined occasion felt a momentous millisecond, and it was all gone, totally and beautifully irrelevant forever. You can change the words, but a coffee by any other name still tastes as sweet.