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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 February 2010 Teen Ink Fiction Contest.





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This article has 194 comments. Post your own!

gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 4, 2010 at 7:07 am:
Amazing!  Very creative, I absolutely loved your comparisons to coffee, although personally, I like coffee.  However, I'm one of those "Would you like some coffee with your cream and sugar?"
 
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ashkash95 said...
May 27, 2010 at 3:37 pm:
love this story! Love all the comparisons to coffee though i do need milk and occasionally flavored coffee...and i like how the title relates to her feelings without you actually saying it! it's beautiful :)
 
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AnneElliot said...
May 20, 2010 at 7:58 pm:
Great, very creative, and fun to read too :)
 
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melone96 said...
May 15, 2010 at 4:45 pm:
i've never had coffee b4...like straight black nothing added coffee..im 1 of those ppl who always add something 2 it or get a latte or some other form of coffee...but i absolutely loved this short story! keep writing!!!
 
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Kestrel said...
May 13, 2010 at 10:14 am:

wow this good-interesting analogy-I would've never thought-

though I have to disagree on one thing-I LOVE COFFEE!!!!!!!

I'm not addicted though-I just love it.

 
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ElisaH said...
May 11, 2010 at 6:31 pm:
Nice! It really makes me feel like I am inside her thoughts, like I myself am nervous, and finally when I get to the comments is when I realize that I am really sitting on my bed and trying something new, like meeting up for coffee. Really nice!
 
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Christmas said...
Apr. 24, 2010 at 1:45 pm:

Brilliant. I love the whole parallel between the coffe and the guy, and the constant symbolism with the cream and sugar. Honestly, I don't know how you thought to relate those things together; I never could have come up with that. The whole work feels personal, like an actual flow of thoughts. You can feel the nervousness in the ramblings about the taste of coffee. In short, this is really great. Can't wait for more like it!

(P.S. - Coffee may not be great, but how can you pass on a de... (more »)

 
Mercedes B. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 29, 2010 at 3:04 pm :
Thanks, haha, but I'll be honest, I didn't just come up with it out of the blue.  A guy asked me out for coffee and it was the first time someone had specifically asked me to have coffee with them and I had said yes.  Thus this piece was born.
 
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hootowl4 said...
Apr. 22, 2010 at 4:12 pm:
really great, i look forward to reading more=)
 
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Simba C. said...
Apr. 19, 2010 at 11:32 pm:
This is a really good piece. You are quite succesfull in your use of second person, which most people can't manage. Good job.
 
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creativityrules said...
Apr. 14, 2010 at 8:29 am:
I really like it.....clever piece....yeah, coffee does suck, now coke rocks!!!!
 
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creativityrules said...
Apr. 14, 2010 at 8:27 am:

love the whole theme..... a real clever piece!!! and yes... i hate coffee too.....

COKE ROCKS!!!!

 
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writergirl13 said...
Apr. 13, 2010 at 8:00 pm:
I love the symbolism of coffee in this piece, it kind of states that you aren't just nervous about having to drink the coffee, but it also states that you are extremely nervous about meeting this boy! Absolutely genious!
 
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hepburn said...
Mar. 30, 2010 at 4:25 am:
nice!! i like the way the speaker's thoughts come across the page... its nicely written :)
 
Mercedes B. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 1, 2010 at 8:20 pm :
thank you :)
 
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Rosalie said...
Mar. 28, 2010 at 3:49 am:

this is amazing.

me too, i hate coffee...

 

 
Mercedes B. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 1, 2010 at 8:21 pm :
thank you :) and yes it's disgusting haha
 
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tenderheartx3 said...
Mar. 24, 2010 at 11:03 pm:
Great job! I really like the details of the speaker's thoughts and how you phrase things.
check out my stuff!
 
Mercedes B. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 1, 2010 at 8:21 pm :
thanks! and i definitely will check it out
 
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MyFairyTaleEnding said...
Mar. 24, 2010 at 9:36 pm:
AHHHHHHHHHMAYYYYYYYYZINNNNNNG!!!!!!!!!! i ABSOLUTLY ADORE THIS! It reminds me so much of myself. Except, this was baseball for the guy I adore. I am a total girly-girl and I cannot STAND baseball, like the girl with coffee. But, when I actually tried it, I could stand it and started liking it. Just for him. :)
 
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