“Are you mad at Starbucks?”
I was caught off guard for a second. That was the first question my editor asked me after reading an excerpt from Tripio. I simply replied that Tripio is my novel and that my story could not have taken place without Starbucks as a major part of it. He then asked quite reasonably, “Why are you calling Starbucks the “Cosmodemonic Coffee Company”?
I had not thought about it all that much when writing Tripio. I think because it is how I referred to Starbucks throughout the journals I kept during the early 1990s when I worked at Starbucks in Chicago. At the time there were fewer than 100 Starbucks. Not talking about Chicago here, but the planet. Since those journals were the source material for Tripio and it was incredibly obvious that I could only be referring to Starbucks when I subbed Cosmodemonic. I saw no urgency in making a change.
My editor was fine with that but was more interested in the “Why?’ So, I went on. In Tripio, the Jay character and his new lover Kati both had read lots of Henry Miller by the time their romance starts. In his early writing days Henry Miller worked for Western Union and referred to it as the Cosmodemonic Telephone and Telegraph Company. In Tripio, Jay and Kati simply use Cosmodemonic as a nickname more out of homage to Henry Miller than anything to do with Starbucks. But my editor was not swayed and had me insert a clarification and explanation of sorts, as early in Tripio as I could. I did so.
Wait, there’s more. Since Tripio is at least part memoir and there are many passages where Jay is taking notes or reviewing his SotMs, he also substitutes Cosmodemonic for Starbucks, “to keep work out of my mind as I take notes and go about my off hours”. This reasoning also goes deep into the struggle the protagonist Jay faces in Tripio. Jay moved to Chicago to “test his metal as a writer, not to find a career” and is actively questioning whether he has what it takes to actually succeed as a novelist. Jay’s other option is climbing the ladder at this fast growing coffee company he has been working for over two years. Jay sees that the company is going to be a success yet is not sure he want to be part of that type of success. In using the word Cosmodemonic in his personal journals Jay is identifying himself more as a writer, like Henry Miller and not as a cog in the growing Starbucks empire.
Last but not least, I just checked an on-line dictionary site and found that no definition for the word “Cosmodemonic” exists. Since Henry Miller is no longer alive, I can’t ask him for his permission to use the word. Too bad, because I would also liked to have asked him what he thought about the Cosmodemonic Coffee Company.
“May I help who’s next?”