Coffee made me nervous. Now it won’t.

“Let’s get some coffee.”
I utter that well-rehearsed line and sit across from you at the table, nervous, excited, overjoyed and totally terrified.
I don’t know why or how people meet for coffee, a drink that has no significance. I wish I could tell you how conceited this drink is, with all its complexities. And those people who fanatically crave for caffeine, who post bogus status updates, are all liars. I hate them. I hate coffee. I hate its taste and I hate its smell. It makes me nervous. Still here I am, with you, because I want to like coffee for you.
But what if I fail to drink my coffee? I think. I think too much sometimes. I overthink too, like ,what if I fail to impress you? I haven’t met a girl for coffee before. I don’t know the rules. Maybe that is the reason my world trembles even at the thought of it. Maybe, for some more inexplicable reasons, I have self-esteem issues, I cannot look into your eyes, I cannot talk without stammering, and I become dyslectic around you. Or maybe it is the coffee itself. Hot, steaming, bittersweet coffee lying on this table, making me nervous.
Even though many have tried explaining it to me, I cannot grasp the idea that is ‘coffee’. How anyone, no matter how deprived of energy the person might be feeling, can willingly fill themselves with copious amounts of an intoxicating substance—that only leaves them a craving for more, a bitter taste in the back of their mouth—is beyond me. And its musty smells hangs so thick in the air. There aren’t any good words I can attribute to coffee.
I guess ‘coffee’ is some kind of unapproved narcotic that spreads maddening, incomprehensible, hopeless feelings. Seriously, I can always feel it in the air when the scent of coffee is around.
The first time was the worst. I still remember what it had been like as the scalding black liquid attacked, each sip waging its own battle against me. I felt much the same way the ground probably does during a lightning storm, questioning its own sanity and purpose with every bolt that strikes. And now, I cannot fathom why I have willingly allowed myself to be surrounded by the bittersweet scent of coffee again, for a girl. A drink I hate and a girl I barely know.
“So?” you ask, tugging me back to reality. Urging me to say something, anything.
I savour the moment of sweet silence, weighing my options with an unconvincing brush of wildness and nervousness, and decide how far I should go.
I should say something.
I will say something.
I could start small: “Have you watched Harry Potter?”
But I guess I’ve already asked you that on the phone. I know the answer anyway. Who hasn’t watched Harry Potter?
“I hate QBASIC and vegetable patties,” feels safe. But you hate them too, so there will be no sentences to follow up. I need something witty, so even if we don’t speak much we can still sit back and smile. But nothing comes to mind. I need anything. “Do you like coffee?” could be worth a venture. Many a deep and significant conversation has begun with a simple coffee. This thought rolls in my mind for a while, but with another sip of actual coffee it goes off the table.
I can feel our desperation growing by the moment, but the words don’t come any easier. It’s difficult, really. And the fact that what I choose to say will represent me entirely makes it all the more difficult. It could be what you remember me by tonight when you’re lying awake trying to figure out our meeting. I think you girls like to do that. Boys do it too, anyway.
So I want to say, “When I look into your eyes I feel like I’m diving into deep, safe pools of sparkling liquid diamonds, and I want to stay there indefinitely, I really do. There’s nobody in this coffee shop, or in the entire city, that has eyes quite like yours, and eternity looks good—more than good, glorious—if I have those eyes to stare into.”
I want to say that. But that sounds like a random pickup line from a C-grade Kollywood movie, something that might make you uncomfortable. Worse, if somebody overheard and thought I was trying to impress a girl in a coffee shop, it would be a really awkward situation.
Maybe I should abandon language altogether and appeal to the other senses. Eyes talk too. Maybe if I gently, nonchalantly, carefully grazed my fingertips over your wrist, you might notice it enough to notice me, and drag your eyes from the worthless posters in the room and look at me, eye-to-eye, for at least one special moment.
However, this task—the task of touching you gently, caressing you, if you will—is too big a step. I am an amateur. I am nervous. I don’t know you properly. My eyes are not well trained. I will blink too much. I know I will freak out and spill the coffee on you and you will hate me. This is my first coffee. I need to start small.
Usually, the bitter taste and nasty smell and silly stereotypes mean it takes me a whole hour to finish just a cup of coffee. But now, with you, there’s a rush propelling the seconds forward much faster than they should be moving. A couple of minutes is all I have until both our cups will empty and you will probably leave, hating me, and I will have to spend another week waiting for this moment to arrive again. The coffee moment. I don’t have moments.
You are already beginning to gather your things together, ready to dump them into your purse and leave without a second glance at me unless....Unless I act. Now!
So, “Hey,” I blurt out, all of a sudden, as if we’ve just met on the street. With this nasty coffee affecting my brain, I can’t even choose words properly. Silly, stupid me.
You nod with a smile. “Yes?”
I don’t know what to do next. I am so out of words, ideas, sweeteners, flavours, cream and sugar. My coffee is too plain. I already feel like a coffee fraud.
“You smile good,” I somehow manage to insert. Then I realise what I said makes no sense at all!
You try to take your final sip of coffee but what I just said makes you smile again, almost unbalancing the cup between your mouth and hand.
I nervously point to the side of your lips. “There’s a coffee mark near your chin.”
“Where?” You ask.
I quickly grab a tissue and gesture at you to come closer. You pause for a moment but comply nonetheless. I bend towards you with the intention of erasing the coffee stain from your tender lips but something tells me that I can do better. So I let go of the tissue and gently kiss you on the lips where our last bit of coffee remains.
You smile, for the third time. And this time I feel your smile safely entwined within mine. And though you might not know it yet, and all the people around in this coffee shop never will, I already know we’ve just had the best coffee ever.
- Anik Yadav