"What is Co-in-troe?" That's how he pronounced it. "He" being a customer in his mid 30s, about 6 feet tall, a little extra baggage, dusty brown hair cut in a way that says "I manage people who are better programmers than I am", glasses, burgundy shirt, and tan pants.
"Cointreau is an orange liqueur," I reply. I take him to the shelf location and point it out to him. A woman follows us. They have matching rings.
"How do you pronounce that again?" After pronouncing it for him, he echoes it back to me then turns and says it to his wife again as if he's contemplating some deep mystery of foreign languages.
The wife is wearing a black sweater. Her hair is also brown, though darker than her husband's. She has it shoulder length, pulled back behind the ears, and there is a wave in it. She's also in her 30s. She's wearing jeans. She looks excited. "That's the stuff we need then!" She smiles and shares a look with her husband that tells me that they are making a new recipe and trying it out for fun.
"Cointreau" he says again. "What is the difference between Cointreau and Grand Marnier? What do they make margaritas out of?" For the record, he pronounced Grand Marnier with the commonly accepted American butchering of the name.
"Grand Marnier is an orange liqueur made with brandy. It's flavor comes off as sweet, but warming. Cointreau uses no brandy, but when they make the liqueur they use both orange essence and orange rind in the process which adds a hint of bitter orange flavor. The effect is that it's less warming and sweet than Grand Marnier, but more of a natural orange flavor. It's still sweet, but not as cloying. Both can be used to make a margarita. Triple Sec is also an orange liqueur used to make margaritas. It uses no brandy and is more of a candy orange flavor. Sweet, not warming." By the recognition in their eyes I could tell that Triple Sec was the answer to what margaritas are made with.
"Let's get this one," says the wife pointing to the Cointreau. "It's what the recipe calls for. What do you recommend for vodka?"
"What kind of drink are you planning on using it for?"
"Cosmopolitans," she replies, pronouncing the entire name where most people would say "Cosmos" and trust me to know that they are referring to the drink and not the flower. The husband is now the one tagging along. The wife has taken the lead. I infer that this was all her idea and he's another player in her fun game.
"Well, since you're looking at a drink with fruity flavors I don't recommend spending a lot of money on the vodka. You want something that's good and won't give you a hangover, but spending a lot of money on it is wasted. If you were looking at making a martini, then I recommend something more pricey. However, for Cosmos I recommend Vikingfjord. It's one of the better vodkas that I sell and it doesn't cost a ton of money. It's distilled 6 times which means it doesn't have a lot of impurities. It's made from potatoes. Good quality stuff at a reasonable price."
The wife gets a look of glee in her eye. She's made up her mind. "Let's get this one."
"Sold!" agrees the husband.
The wife reaches for a fifth, then pauses and turns to her partner in the game. "Should we get the big one?" she asks, referring to the half gallon sized bottle. Both are on sale so the half gallon is a better bargain.
"Let's get the small one," replies the husband.
"I don't know," she says. "I'm thinking maybe I should just go for it and get the big one."
"The small one will do. If we want more we can always come back."
It's at this point that I suppress my smirk. When the wife first asked for the big bottle, the thought crossed my mind to say "Size queen!" but I suppressed it and shoved it far into the back of my mind. Now it occurred to me that I was hearing the whole conversation played aloud for me. Here was the woman looking for the "big one". Here was the man saying, in essence, "Size doesn't matter. It's adequate and will do the job. You don't need a big one. You've got me and I can always bring you more. Don't worry about it....really." He was hoping that she would settle for the little one. I was cracking up inside contemplating this. Then, he gives into her crazy whim.
"Oh, let's just get the big one. If we like it, then we won't have to come back for more and if we don't we can always find something else to do with it. Come ooon! Live a little and have some fun!"
He nods his acquiescence. They thank me and move to the counter completely unaware of the interpretation I had of their conversation. I came home that night and told my partner about the whole thing.
"That's hysterical." she said. "I never would have thought about it that way. You should write about it in your blog."
And so it goes.