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.

Join the Discussion

This article has 198 comments. Post your own now!

burgerman said...
Oct. 1, 2011 at 1:06 pm
This is enjoyably profound and wonderfully structured. I'm going to steal the idea and see if I can do it justice. (:
Juzzybusta said...
Oct. 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm
I love this! It's so true and so relatable. Really quite beautiful actually. And I don't like coffee either :P xx
Ktaylorxo said...
Sept. 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm
This was amazing, your character really came to life! Feel free to check out some of my pieces, and please comment!
Marie said...
Sept. 9, 2011 at 9:31 pm
I loved this article!! I loved the double meanings, that you could read it from a shallow point of view and focus on the love story, or deep and focus on the life-analogy! It was really fanatstic and I will share this on facebook- just for you! 
CraftyCinamatic replied...
Oct. 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm
I agree :) I like the metaphor included in the story
Gypsyrose7 said...
Sept. 9, 2011 at 8:36 pm
Aw this is cute. i like it! If people could comment on my work it'd be greatly appreciated. Thanks :)
JuliaGraceS said...
Sept. 9, 2011 at 12:54 pm
Wow. This is so, so good! Brilliant analogy! 
writerfreak21231 said...
Aug. 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm
wow this was great! Very emtional!!! if anyone had time could you please check out my new song called: never. i need more comments. Thanks a bunch! :)(:
aveawave said...
Aug. 18, 2011 at 10:12 am

This is great. i love the story line. I didnt wanna stop reading. Now, would you mind checking out some of my poems...? I'd reall appreciate some advice.


atimm2013 said...
Aug. 1, 2011 at 9:09 pm
I love this! i love the stress and overwhelming feeling throughtout the story, and i absolutely loved the ending!  great work!
Lola_Black said...
Jul. 29, 2011 at 6:51 pm
Brilliant writing! I love it! Now, if you don't mind reading some of my poems...?
soldout said...
Jul. 27, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Here are a few tabs I thought of for this masterpiece. Anyone who equally praises it, reply with more tab names. continue the chain!

Original, incredible, realistic, thoughtful, emotional, deep, attention-grabbing


Lola_Black replied...
Jul. 29, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Adorable, relatable, makes-me-happy-just-reading-it.

Okay, that's all I got. Anyone else?

ReadingIsSexy said...
Jul. 27, 2011 at 4:07 pm

First of all, this is fantastic. 

The main thing that really, really impressed me was the way readers can relate to you, the writer. I can feel the anticipation, the anxiety in this story. And the relief at the end, when the narrator finally says,

"Let's get some coffee."

Let me tell you, that relief is almost tangible.

I will not be the first to say this about this story, and God knows I won't be the last, but this is refreshing. Almost like...

A sip o... (more »)

Schubster said...
Jul. 27, 2011 at 8:34 am

I think I've already commented on this piece before, but I'm going to do it again since I love it so much.

Fantastic. Completely awesome. Not sure if I can say anything else that's so different from what 143 other comments have already posted, but just beautiful work :D

"We look around us like tourists, like we've never seen a coffee shop."

^^ I loved that part because it just rang so true to me from *cough* real experience *cough* :P But once again, great job.

Do ... (more »)

shadowrider said...
Jul. 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm
This is fun and funny! It cheered me up. It flows almost like poetry! Wonderful job!
KenyaLove41 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 25, 2011 at 9:51 pm
i loved how you repeated the word "coffee" in the story and how the narrator overthinks things like sometimes the way i do and  also how she keeps telling her concerns about going out for coffee. lovedit!:)
julialove94 said...
Jul. 19, 2011 at 9:26 pm
I loved how you wrote the story as you were directing the other character in "you." I haven't read very many stories that address the person as "you." That's how the story I have up right now is written! I loved this short story. Great writing!
writerfreak21231 said...
Jul. 17, 2011 at 11:54 am
I loved the story! and was impressed! Great job! Fantastic!!:) (Sorry for the advertizing!) If any of u coulld read my two stories called the beast and nightstalker, that would be great! Also please post comments saying if u liked it or not. Thanks! And keep writing! :D
PaperIdeas said...
Jul. 13, 2011 at 6:46 pm
This piece was amazing...I loved your voice and your title. :)
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