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 199 comments. Post your own now!

Radiah This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 2:15 am
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.
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 (:
SmileyFace13 replied...
Apr. 16, 2011 at 10:00 pm
hahah thats awesome that you got tea! :) ........this story is awesome it almost gets the reader stressed too
IWillDream54 said...
Feb. 23, 2011 at 7:35 pm
I'm not really sure what to say because you've probably heard this too many times to count, but this is amazing. I love the imagery and the way you wrote it. Keep writing!! :)
HollyC said...
Feb. 20, 2011 at 11:04 am
I love how you've captured the slightly weird and silly feelings people have over seemingly normal objects and how they are percieved. I love the theme of it, it's funny and you can totally understand it. The coffee idea is genius. I'd like to know your inspiaration, I really do. Haha, good job!
got love?<3 said...
Jan. 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm
Super fantastic! I love this, its so relatable and funny and sooo soo sooooo great! wow, you have talent! write more
dreamer_believer said...
Jan. 24, 2011 at 11:01 am
first off, i must say this piece is pure genious :) it's real and SOO true and honest. this is thee kind of romance writing i love! secondly, i loved this piece so much, i chose to do this as a monologue in my drama class :) i still have this memorized!! it gave me the highest grade in the class, and this story is one i will NEVER EVER forget :) i love it sooo much! your writing is amazing :)
kmarie14 said...
Jan. 14, 2011 at 12:03 am
for the record.. ILOVECOFFEE :) haha but I really do like this story it made me smile :) great job!
nascar48jj said...
Jan. 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm
this is such an awesme story. Totally awesome idea! <3
nascar48jj said...
Jan. 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm
this is totally awesome! great story
MRose911 said...
Dec. 19, 2010 at 7:39 pm
This is probably my most favorite piece I have ever read on this website :) Wow! this is freakin amazing!! :) this is one of those pieces of work you just smile and relate and laugh and are just awed with when your done reading! Wow! Amazing! :)
Blossom-13 said...
Dec. 19, 2010 at 7:08 pm
this is awesome!
dolphin13 said...
Dec. 19, 2010 at 2:32 pm
WOW! I love this! It is a great story! Keep up the great work!
DramaQueen424 said...
Dec. 19, 2010 at 1:08 pm
Forst if all, I loved this piece! Second of all, it's nice to see some talent from Maine! I'm also from Maine (Portland) and I don't think I've seen a fellow Mainah until now! :D
Ariadne said...
Dec. 19, 2010 at 12:21 pm
I loved this.  The imagery and metaphors were so powerful and I really wanted to keep reading it.  I also liked the way you kept the buildup going and carried it through to the very last line. Keep writing!
Krikette This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 19, 2010 at 12:09 am
Very well done. You have infused so much thought and depth into this story.
Eer320 said...
Nov. 27, 2010 at 9:40 pm
Thats was REALLY good.  I love how you write!  It's great to see some popular writing from Maine!  ;)
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