As a child I wanted to grow up to live in the McCallister's house from 'Home Alone', to eat nothing but Vienetta (the classy ice-cream of a pre-magnum age), and to be greeted like this whenever I enter a room...
I remember a childhood friend going to a barbers and asking for 'my usual' in a studied attempt at being casual. Blank stare. Then the barber's cold reply '... but I don't know who you are." I vowed this would never happen to me and so I've worked hard to become the life-blood of local business, that face that blends into the wallpaper but arrives like clockwork. I wanted to be a regular.
My regular career began in the local video shop where friends and I would try to impress Natalie, the sassy older (& therefor immeasurably cool) staff-member. We never did impress Natalie.
When I was a freelance writer I had a lot, an accountant might say far too much, free time on my hands. I would pretend to think great bohemian writer thoughts in Dublin's Metro Cafe several times a week, always ordering the same bacon sandwich and coffee. I managed to reach peak regular status when the staff knew my order and even seating preferences (oh yes). Then the staff changed which meant I would have to begin again at level 1. Sod that. I emigrated.
Now in London I've changed habits up a bit. Why not go wild and cosmopolitan? This is big city life. Now I go to the same high-street cafe everything Saturday with my paper but instead of a sandwich I order a bacon bagel and coffee. My system has become so routine that once the man in Spar asked why I was running 1 hr 40 minutes behind - then the server in the cafe asked the same. She was worried. This may be a sad reflection on how anal I am about my weekend schedule but in that moment I felt like Henry Hill in this 'Goodfellas' scene.
It may sound pathetic but in this world of uncertainty it's nice to go somewhere you absolutely know you like the food, a bit of cheerful service, and the same old rickety seat by the damp window. Sometimes you wanna go everybody knows your name (or at least your likely order).
We may not all become the next Mariah but we can become something of a very very minor local celeb, known by two or three people as that person who orders the same sandwich each week. Now if that's not aspirational I don't know what is.