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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DakotaShadow said...
Oct. 23, 2010 at 12:34 pm
classngrl said...
Oct. 14, 2010 at 8:49 pm
hahahaha!!! love it!! that was an AMAZING STORY!!!!
AnneElliot said...
Oct. 14, 2010 at 12:05 pm
I love this! You have such great writing style! You inspired my piece "He Remembered." Keep up the great work!
likearock said...
Oct. 7, 2010 at 6:20 pm
i really enjoed reading this, your description was well written, i could smell the coffee! Great use of language and very clever. 
flummoxedfriend said...
Sept. 4, 2010 at 11:19 pm

You were spectacular in your comparison of coffee and new relationships. The fact that we do speak formalities in the form of cream and sugar is spectacularly exemplified. That along with the subtle layer of hyperbole crusted onto the plot of the story makes a very interesting read indeed. 9/10

Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." Mark Twain

"People need to try not to be bland and subscribe to ordinary responses" ... (more »)

LunaWingsFlyAway replied...
Sept. 22, 2010 at 6:19 pm
this was an amazing story and the metaphor of coffee and new relationships is beyond good...its a cute and funny story...the inner thoughts are funny...nd i love the moral of this story...it was amazing keep writing
MythicWeaver said...
Aug. 31, 2010 at 9:01 pm
I love how you compared everything to coffee, and you were absolutely right about everything.
JennaBeaSwimma said...
Aug. 31, 2010 at 7:05 pm
I love how you made something as unimportant as going out for coffee such a big deal - a lot like a girl would do if it was her first date!  Good job!
juliam This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 31, 2010 at 5:23 pm


(it won't just let me put a smiely face... so i'm typing this!)

qui133 said...
Aug. 31, 2010 at 11:44 am
i. LOVE. this.
SamiLynn said...
Aug. 31, 2010 at 12:39 am
h wow, this was really, cute, really sweet, really innocent and I like the coffee metaphors/ similes. (btw i hate coffee :D)
jward24895 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 25, 2010 at 12:29 pm
This is truly amazing. :)
Eleanor A. said...
Aug. 11, 2010 at 9:42 am
Oh wow. That was really awesome. I love how you set the scene, but didn't reveal too too much about the people, and how you used coffee as a metaphor for a LOT of things. Really a very sweet piece of writing. ;D
SkyWolf said...
Aug. 9, 2010 at 9:31 am

i love this peice!!!!! :)

no offance to anyone but i hate coffee (i like tea :)_) so this is like awesome to read. i live in ahouse of coffee drinkers its so nice to know that someone feels the same way

likearock replied...
Oct. 7, 2010 at 6:16 pm
whoa, it's like the opposite for me, i'm the only one who likes coffee. Lately, i haven't been drinking much though. The caffeine keeps me up at night, so I switched to drinking green tea. For some reason the tea doesn't keep me up late.
Hippiechick10 said...
Aug. 1, 2010 at 6:11 pm
Great!!! five stars!
savemethewaltz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 25, 2010 at 12:11 am
hilarious and thought-provoking. I loved it!
SteBe said...
Jul. 18, 2010 at 4:09 pm
This reminds me very sweetly of a scene in You've Got Mail - the two writers meeting for the first time for coffee... The nervousness and uncertainty... You capturered it all very well. Nice work! 
BrielleM said...
Jul. 18, 2010 at 7:50 am
Wow! Absolutely love this! :) It's so good! It's very unique that she's worrying about coffee before the date, but I like it!
crzybookworm said...
Jul. 18, 2010 at 3:30 am
Hahaha. This is a very different piece of work. I LOVE IT! Coffee. Lol. She is obsessing over the date by worrying about coffee. Lol. And you make your characters very vivid! Awesomeeee!
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