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 198 comments. Post your own now!

KittyKat1419 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 15, 2015 at 7:44 pm
I love it! I like how you used something simple and used it as an outline for a love story. It's great!
RationalIdealist said...
Apr. 27, 2015 at 8:40 pm
Coffee is an underused metaphor for life. I love how you rocked it--and how you rocked your use of the stream-of-consciousness technique.
Welcome2TheNewAge said...
Feb. 9, 2015 at 4:26 pm
I loved that you didn't use dialogue until the very end. Marvelous job! XD
SaraCatttThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 15, 2014 at 11:00 pm
This will happen to me someday. I despise coffee. I love this, its riciculously, accuratetly hilarious.
TaylorWintryThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 18, 2014 at 1:22 am
This is just really cool. I've tried writing in 2nd person before, but it just doesn't work out for me. That's something I need to work on, I guess. Anyway, I'm liking what you've done with this. Good job.
Strawberry_Rabbit said...
Apr. 6, 2014 at 5:18 pm
It's a good story, but I was wondering- is coffee as the narrator describes it a metaphor for life?
HumanKaleidoscope said...
Aug. 31, 2013 at 4:06 pm
I love it. It's amazing, really. I love the swiftness of the story, the way everything seems so smooth and natural. The plot isn't forced, it runs its course like a river. It makes it real.
In_Love_with_Writing said...
Jan. 5, 2013 at 9:43 pm
I absolutely loved this story! I could really connect with it :) Check out some of my stories and leave a comment? Every comment and rating means A LOT to me! Thanks!
StoryTellingElf said...
Nov. 26, 2012 at 7:58 pm
I love the correlation the narrator makes between coffee and and her situation. :)
AnubhutiKumar This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 13, 2012 at 9:29 pm
Whoa! Amazing metaphor!  
LunaIsNotHere said...
Jul. 13, 2012 at 10:43 pm
This was so beautifully written! I fully enjoyed reading THE WHOLE ENTIRE RANT ABOUT COFFEE. I, myself, LOVE coffee...so, I couldn't relate to that aspect, but I could relate to other stuff in the story. Bravo ;)
Emilyourstruly said...
Jul. 13, 2012 at 12:15 am
Amazing. Truly amazing.
CarlaDelMarB said...
Jun. 21, 2012 at 8:52 pm
This is wonderful!
JPanda13 said...
Jun. 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm
OMG LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!!!!!!!It covers all the weird and cryptic thoughts that come into girls minds. We dont make since and we freak out over how to impress guys with coffee? Ya thats us, but we are secretly screaming inside exited over it while we are terrified at the same time. ya I LOVE IT!!!!!
FULLSTOP said...
Apr. 23, 2012 at 4:55 am
great writing! i should start comparing my writing to coffee!! except i'm allergic to caffeine...
Adam-Rodriguez said...
Mar. 25, 2012 at 8:01 pm
wow i really loved. i was planning on reading a paragraph or 2 but i really got into it
mylifestarringme said...
Mar. 3, 2012 at 7:11 pm
wow this is really good:)
weetzziebat said...
Feb. 16, 2012 at 11:54 am
I really liked this, I thought that as the reader we really got to know the narrator and empathize with her anxiety. I also thought that it was intriguing the way you narrated it as if you were speaking to us. I think that really helps make the audience feel involved in the story. Overall, it was a really nice piece and shows a great sense of your personal style. I would appreciate it if you checked out one of my poems? Thank you, and great job!
aem312 said...
Feb. 10, 2012 at 8:41 pm
This is really cute. I loved reading it! It kind of reminded me of myself. I get really anxious and I would be worrying about spilling the coffee. Great job. :)
someonewhoisme said...
Feb. 10, 2012 at 7:02 pm
I love it! It's so cute and so honest! I love how you keep comparing him to coffee and how they're both so insecure. P.S. Can you read my story "Society geats what society wants."
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