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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!

berkeleybear This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 17, 2010 at 9:26 am:
After reading this, I saw the title and laughed. Nice piece. I wish I could write like this.
 
Mercedes B. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 21, 2010 at 11:12 am :
Haha, I have no idea where the title came from and now I cannot change it, but I'm glad somebody likes it. Thank you.
 
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katiethefabulous said...
Feb. 16, 2010 at 3:31 pm:
Hey, I love coffee! ;)
But really, nice piece.
 
Mercedes B. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 21, 2010 at 11:11 am :
Thank you!
And of course, I do know some people like coffee. :)
 
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PaRaNoRmAl627 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 13, 2010 at 9:25 am:
I love how this was written, and how you used the characteristics of coffee to describe your feelings. It was really clever. But I wish I'd seen her reaction to the coffee :p
 
Mercedes B. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 13, 2010 at 4:28 pm :
thank you :) maybe i should write a follow-up...but she wouldn't like coffee so i'd have to add something else to make it exciting. maybe a coffee-related car chase. thoughts? haha
 
PaRaNoRmAl627 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 14, 2010 at 4:18 pm :
haha perfect. a caffeinated car chase. i'd read it :p
 
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DallysGrrl said...
Feb. 12, 2010 at 9:22 pm:
Great job!!!! Awesome!!!! its really great great great!!!! I luv how u mixed the coffee in with how u felt and how u wanted 2 look. its really imaginative. Awesome. Heyy, I would b very happy if u or ny1 checked out my 2 short stories. I luv comments, and i would luv 2 hear from such a good writer!!!! Thnx.
 
Mercedes B. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 13, 2010 at 4:31 pm :
thank you i will definitely take a look
 
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AliceGoesBam08 said...
Feb. 12, 2010 at 9:25 am:
I loved the was this was written, your narrator was very realistic and though we didn't get too much information about her, we did get a good grasp of her character. I loved this story - I can't describe how adorable and lovely this story of yours was. Thank you.
P.S - Ha ha, more of a tea person myself :)
 
Mercedes B. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 13, 2010 at 4:30 pm :
thank you. and hurrah for tea people...or at least chai. haha
 
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turn_it_up(: said...
Feb. 11, 2010 at 7:45 pm:
this was amazing! (: great job! some people just are accustomed to coffee, and like you said, it is sometimes silly to think you can't function without it. (:
 
Mercedes B. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 13, 2010 at 4:29 pm :
thank you! and yes, people who cannot function without coffee sometimes worry me...but then i think about all the silly things i cannot live without.
 
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writergirl22 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 6, 2010 at 11:45 pm:
i LOVE this
it captures all the awkwardness and insecurity that basically everyone has
loveloveloveit.
 
Mercedes B. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 7, 2010 at 6:05 pm :
thank you very much :)
 
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Rebecca24 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 6, 2010 at 7:19 pm:
That was really nice :)
I love how your language is abrupt at some points and flowy in others. It's so effective, so personal. Great job!
PS, I've never liked coffee either.
 
Mercedes B. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 7, 2010 at 6:06 pm :
thank you :)
i sometimes wonder if anyone truly likes coffee
 
Kayamae replied...
Feb. 10, 2010 at 10:15 am :
I like coffee :(
 
Mercedes B. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 10, 2010 at 12:52 pm :
my apologies kayamae. i'm sure coffee is lovely sometimes.
 
Kayamae replied...
Feb. 11, 2010 at 9:51 am :
yes it is particularly in the morning and after dinner... lol wonderful story though conveyed the anxiety quite well and i should reccomend tea if you don't like coffee, its good for all those times inbetween coffee and cocoa
 
Mercedes B. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 13, 2010 at 4:27 pm :
oddly i am not one for tea or cocoa. i am all about the cold beverages.
 
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