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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.

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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 194 comments. Post your own!

Jeromeflies said...
Jun. 13, 2011 at 7:02 pm:
I like how you perfectly captured how girls, especially, overthink everything and make themselves feel stressed and confused. I know I do, all the time.
 
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K.M.S.Shear said...
Jun. 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm:
i liked how you descirbed coffie
 
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qwerty42 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 13, 2011 at 6:12 am:
if i could write like that, more people would actually read my work on here! XD i love how you captured the feelings you get of a first date, or meeting someone for the first time! the only thing i disagree about is that coffee is amazing XD please keep writing! :D
 
SabreEleven replied...
Jun. 13, 2011 at 10:19 am :
i second all of that!
 
NKsunshine replied...
Jun. 13, 2011 at 6:19 pm :
I third it:D
 
Jame_alexx replied...
Jun. 13, 2011 at 11:21 pm :
that was good i wish i could write like that
 
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Carabear said...
May 22, 2011 at 7:02 pm:

I love this story, it captures all the insecurities that we feel during random parts of the day, and when we look back we realize how silly they were, also I have to have hot cocoa mix in my coffee before I drink it, it makes me feel like a fraud too. :)

 

 
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Speedyloris said...
May 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm:

I love the ending! And my favorite line: We're putting color in black and white and we're adding flavor with sideways glances

Whaaaat?! So well worded and poetic. It gave me shivers.

 
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Dancing2222 said...
May 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm:
I loved the line "Life needs flavor." "You captured the emotion of a stressful first date very well. It seems like your story topic is stretched out, but in a way not at all. Awesome story!
 
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allegraconbrio said...
Apr. 30, 2011 at 8:03 pm:
This is AMAZING.
I'm speechless, really, I am. Because that was just... wow. Really good.
 
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kelsee727 said...
Apr. 30, 2011 at 7:15 pm:
I didn't know that contemplating a coffee date could be a story. It turns out that it can be a really good, well-written story. Nice.
 
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Ehwaz11 said...
Apr. 30, 2011 at 4:50 pm:

I like how moments/instances like this bring questions forward like "am I a coffee fraud? Will people look at me and think I'm a coffee fraud?"

These kind of questions are the secret insecurities we feel.

This was extremely well written-loved it!

 
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Curly... said...
Apr. 30, 2011 at 5:37 am:
I"ve never liked coffee either.. but I did like this story! :)
 
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IncorrectlyWired said...
Apr. 26, 2011 at 8:14 pm:
I liked the internal chaos and worry. Your character's overanalysis and overcomplication was perfectly tied  in with all of the metaphores relating to coffee. Plus, I tend to write with more thought and less action, more philosophy and less surity. "What if?" instead of "What is." You wrote like that too. Very good.
 
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bieberl0ve15 said...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 3:18 pm:

*clicks add as favorite*

Love this!! :)

 
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Radiah said...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 2:15 am:
 COFFEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!! I LLLOOO..... HATE THEM!
 
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shywriter said...
Mar. 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm:
I love how you managed to capture the sundry feelings that hit a person during the most normal time of the day. Amazing job.
 
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Madeleine said...
Feb. 28, 2011 at 7:59 pm:
This was just like a recent meeting I had was for me...only I got stressed and had tea.  Although my relationship has become platonic, your story wasn't.  : )
 
PaRaNoRmAl627 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 17, 2011 at 6:47 pm :
hah. this comment struck me as very cutee lol. just thought id sharee
 
alwaysbrokenhearted replied...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 2:24 pm :
I agree! It's super cute  and it's totally something that would happen to me (:
 
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