I Should Switch to Decaf This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

July 18, 2009
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I want to like coffee for you.

I hate coffee. I hate the taste, I hate the smell, I hate the way people get artificially addicted to it, like it's a trend. People joke about needing coffee to function. It's stupid until you see them without coffee – then it's ugly.

But for you, I'm going to try. I've obviously tasted coffee, but I've never sat down and just drunk it. I'm going to. I'm going to brave the nasty smell and bitter taste and silly stereotypes. Just for you! I'm not sure why. I barely know you. In fact, I've never actually met you. We're meeting for coffee. I've never met someone for coffee. It's so normal and casual. It's so wild and strange. Everyone meets people for coffee. It's nothing extraordinary. Nobody meets people for a chai or an iced tea or something silly like that. Just coffee. So that's what I'm going to do for you. It's new. It's exciting.

Let's not start this off with illusions or lies. I'm not sure what to think of coffee. A lot of people like it, but a lot of people like smoking or heroin. It doesn't make those things healthy. Maybe a lot of people like you, too, but I'm not sure what to think of you either. Are you too bitter, too strong? Are you unhealthy? I want you to be healthy. I want you to be sweet, even if it's bittersweet. I want to like you. Maybe I do. Maybe it's just coffee I'm not sure of. Maybe it's me I'm not sure of. All my thoughts and feelings are mixed up with the past and the present and the smell of coffee in my mind. Please don't hate me.

In a way, this scares me, this meeting for coffee. In a way, coffee weirds me out. I don't want to be one of those people who needs tons of flavors and sweeteners with their coffee. I don't want people to look at me with my coffee and laugh and say, “You want a little coffee with your cream and sugar?” Of course there should be some sweetness. Life needs flavor. It needs cream and sugar. But the point of drinking coffee is to drink coffee. It shouldn't be all hidden, like you're ashamed. If you like coffee and you want to drink it, then go for it! Don't water it down. I don't want to feel like a wuss, like a coffee fraud. I don't want people to look at me and think, Oh, look at that stupid girl drinking coffee just to impress that boy. How pathetic. That's just a sad, ridiculous situation to be caught in.

I'm an honest person. So that's why I'm telling you from the start that I'm not sure about coffee. That's why I'm telling you I'll try it just for you. That's why I want to like coffee for you. So, here we go.

I look down at my lap in the car. I check my reflection in the side mirror. My hair looks decent, but is it good enough? Should I really be wearing this outfit? Is there time to turn around? No. It'll have to do. Funny how much better it looked in the safety of my room, away from this pressure, the pressure of going out for coffee. I'm nervous. I shift my feet and rhythmically move my legs, as I have a habit of doing.

I wonder for a moment if you have nervous habits, or any habits. Do you talk with your hands like me? Are you as clumsy as me? Oh, God, I'm going to spill the coffee on myself. I can see it coming. I take a deep breath so I won't forget. Sometimes I panic and forget to breathe. Honestly.

I can almost smell the coffee already. I wonder if you'll like me, if you'll be impressed by me. Will you find me boring? I think about the way my grammar mysteriously becomes awful when I talk to you, and I wonder if I'm going to embarrass myself.

Now I'm scared to talk at all. Will I be too bitter, too strong? And there's definitely no time to turn back? No, it's just coffee. What if I hate it? Will you hate me? It's just coffee. Hot, steaming, bittersweet coffee. There's no turning back.

I arrive, barely on time, where I promised to meet you. To meet you for coffee. I get out of the car with a sense of growing up, of being incredibly old and yet monumentally young. I'm a silly girl, meeting a boy for coffee for the first time. If I don't like it, I could be stranded here, in Vineland, New Jersey.

I go inside, trying to put some confidence in my step. I'm telling my legs, “Be strong. Don't be clumsy or shy. Be strong. Strong like coffee!”

I see you, I recognize you from your photos, and you recognize me. You know it's me. You come over to say hi. You're smiling, my heart's racing and I'm nervous, I'm scared, oh, I'm so alone, but, God, it's so good to see you smile, to finally see you at all, to hear your voice, to meet you for coffee. I smile back and I know it's going to be all right.

We're two writers, two nervous, silly, like-minded people, pushing our way through a common ritual, meeting for coffee. We shake by with all the wrong verbs and stutter in and out of vibrant, dramatic adjectives. We're putting color in black and white and we're adding flavor with sideways glances. We're accustomed to this, to the frightening mix of hormones, caffeine, and words. We're just young and the same. It's just another conversation – Hi, how are you? Good, you? Good. Wonderful. Cream and sugar. We look around us like tourists, like we've never seen a coffee shop. I decide to be natural and confident. I decide to be strong.

So I look you in the eyes, even though I never look people in the eyes, even though I have self-esteem problems and I'm nervous and I think you'll hate me, even though I wear glasses and I'm terribly self-conscious. I look right into your eyes and say the line I've been writing, rearranging, editing, and rehearsing in my mind the whole way here.

“Let's get some coffee.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the March 2010 Teen Ink Fiction Contest.

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This article has 198 comments. Post your own now!

someonewhoisme said...
Feb. 10, 2012 at 7:02 pm
I love it! It's so cute and so honest! I love how you keep comparing him to coffee and how they're both so insecure. P.S. Can you read my story "Society geats what society wants."
AcrossTheUniverse replied...
Feb. 19, 2012 at 12:32 pm
It IS honest, and the constant comparison of every aspect of the story to cofee is delicious! I also like how after worrying and worrying and worrying and worrying all wnds well (I can relate).
Ecouter said...
Feb. 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm
It's amazing. But...I must admit I love coffee.
Jenny1397 said...
Jan. 19, 2012 at 6:02 pm
Wow, its a really nice story. How you compare everything with coffee, how you write the narrator's emotions and fears, its fantastic. :))
ArielHardinn. said...
Jan. 19, 2012 at 9:42 am
I stumbled across this article a while back, and enjoyed it so much. Funny, now that I've came across it again. This EXACT SAME situation happened to me. I met a boy for coffee, and everything you said in this article applied to my situation. "I want to like coffee for you." My gosh, how incredibly true that statement is. "I barely know you. In fact, I've never actually met you." That's true as well. We go to the same school, but we had only communicated via Text/Twitter. I could go on for hour... (more »)
writersrevenge said...
Dec. 28, 2011 at 11:19 pm
It's cute. I love how you compare everything to coffee.
FrenchHippie said...
Dec. 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm
Amazing! Just the simple flow of ideas and words was so perfect. And I love the whole metaphor going on too with the cream and sugar.
Ekf07 said...
Dec. 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm
this is amazing, the smoothly laid plot line is fantastic, the way you describe coffe! I could practacly smell it!
SecretSearcher This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm
Fantastic! Probably the best, if not in the top 3, best articles I've read today!
Rhinos said...
Dec. 6, 2011 at 1:27 am
very good, i can feel a strange tension, the feeling of fake and robot when I think of drinking coffee...not out of passion but for something else. It's just fake...Very nice, coffee is coffee, it's from beans, it's that simple :) very cute
StarryRoss said...
Nov. 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm
they're definitely right, you had very nice, natural timing and rhythm. Also i like the repitition and analogies of coffee being strong, bittersweet, etc, but you did it in such a way that made it not redundant and repetitive; you knew what you were talking about and how exactly to use repition effectively - nice job
clumsyteardropper said...
Nov. 14, 2011 at 8:35 pm
I loved it! :)  I'm so favoriting this.  this reminds me of the way i think sometimes..... anddd i also hate coffee :P
i really wish i could lay my thoughts out the way that you do.  awesome work! :)
sarahmichelle98 said...
Nov. 14, 2011 at 6:56 pm
its such a cute story:)
pageturner This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm
I love this story. It actually inspired my story: I hate jazz. Hope you check it out
lrshap said...
Nov. 14, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Cute Sincere Sweet

I love it, no words

olivevines said...
Nov. 14, 2011 at 1:24 pm
I love this piece. It cheers me up every time I read it.
Torch said...
Nov. 14, 2011 at 10:10 am

Wow. I wasn't going to comment on this (I usually don't) but I was just so impressed I had to. The way you played it out so perfectly, showed all those emotions, made it seem real and desperate- just wow. You are really skilled.

I also wanted to comment because I had this exact same experience. You definitely wrote exactly what I felt. Thank you.

This was positively amazing. Keep writing! :)

Raiko said...
Nov. 3, 2011 at 4:02 am

This is so cute!!

I loved how you can put her mind which is racing with thoughts and emotions.The rhythm of it,beautiful.

annawofle said...
Oct. 23, 2011 at 7:49 pm
I thought it was great! Iloved how well you decribed her emotions. While reading it I started to get nervous! I also liked how you compared the guy to coffee and made it work!
Gingersnap777 said...
Oct. 23, 2011 at 9:09 am
Awesome job!  I really enjoyed reading this.  Your narrator is very relatable...great story!
claudiathewho This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm
What a beautifully written story! It's very relatable, especially for me because I hate coffee too.
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