I am 23. I have pulled all-nighters, worked ridiculous shifts and enjoyed pie. All in all, I’ve spent 23 years living a very normal life. Except, I did so without the company of coffee.
On March 29, 2012, for no profound or noteworthy reason, I tried it. My first cup was from Starbucks. Now, this was not my first time at Starbucks. Usually, when accompanying a friend at one of their 300 locations above 14th Street, I would ask the barista what they had that most resembled a milkshake. I’d ordered that. But never had I ever had a hot cup of coffee.
When I tweeted the occasion, a friend, a coffee connoisseur, tweeted back, “??duuuuude you don’t go to starbucks for your first cup of coffee!! that’s not coffee!!”??
I was born near Seattle, Washington. For pretty much my entire life, I have associated Starbucks with. . . coffee. I ordered a regular coffee. I added sugar and milk. It tasted like savory Earth.
Usually, in these moments, I try to put the experience into some sort of context I can remember it by. But my attention was diverted elsewhere. The hour in which I first had coffee was coincidentally the same hour when an editor from Thought Catalog approved of my first article suggestion. How exciting! The editor made some comments for revision. How very exciting! This alone would have gotten me rather hyped up. Except in this moment, I was legitimately hyped up. My thumbs ferociously pounded the changes onto the Notes section of my iPod Touch as if I was training for Thumb Wars: Normandy Edition. ?
So the coffee thing got a little overshadowed.
I have never had a reason to buy a Mac computer. Given the limited reasons I use my computer (Twitter-Email-Google Documents-Repeat), I couldn’t justify the difference in price from my Toshiba.
But now, I am a coffee drinker. Now I can. I can join the cool kids at trendy coffeehouses. I can start listening to Elliott Smith and Ingrid Michaelson. Perhaps date a graphic designer. The possibilities excite me. ?
The first time you do anything can be very tricky. Whether trying sex, eating sushi, or watching Garden State, the hype almost always exceeds the initial experience. There’s a moment, after you’ve rolled back onto your back that you simply sigh and think, “Well, then. . .” The doors of adulthood, which you had expected to be thrown open aided by throngs of angelic choirs, at best only leads to watching another rerun of That 70’s Show. Hair doesn’t sprout from your chest. Nicolas Sparks novels don’t become easier to defend. Nothing really changes. ?
There aren’t many profound “firsts” that involve beverages although my first Guinness pretty much validated nearly everything my parents told me about drinking. Trying coffee was no different. There was nothing memorable about that day. I had Thai for lunch. Ran into a fellow DJ at my college radio station in a Trader Joe’s.
When I tried coffee, I was with a friend. While she was debating whether or not to leave New York forever, I simply ordered a coffee. I didn’t enter Starbucks looking for a moment. I had no expectations and had no anticipation. And it worked out great. ?
My point is, I would recommend not having sex on prom night. Try it out on a random Thursday. It just makes it easier for everyone.
When I was a freshman in college I had a crush on a nice girl from California named Lisa. Moving from New York City to Nowhere, North Carolina was a massive shakeup for me and I initially hated it. But, at Ballroom Dancing Club, I met Lisa.
Despite her relatively heavy step at salsa, we became friends! Now, I’d never had a real girlfriend at that time, usually because I was constantly nominating myself for the position of Mayor of The Friendzone. But that was high school. I was a new Robert. I made it very clear that I was not just a friend. At least, I thought I did. And I actually liked Lisa! She loved Dido and Third Eye Blind. She was very sensible but had good, positive energy. And, let’s be real, she was from California.
Those early weeks of college, I couldn’t sleep. I’d twist and turn on my lofted-bed dreaming of home until I remembered Lisa. And I’d breathe and be asleep. ?
Lisa was a coffee addict. She mentioned coffee in all of our conversations. She just could not live without coffee. So, one late fall morning, I woke up very early, intent on making my own Seth-Cohen-stands-on-a-table moment. I walked across campus and bought a small cup of coffee. I knocked on her door. She had been sleeping. She took the coffee. ?
This story still annoys me so I’m going to cut to the point. Before our first break, I told myself to step up my game and tell her how I felt. I don’t remember what she said, except that it started with, “Aw.” I’d seen enough Everwood to know that was a bad sign. I left her dorm heading for two years of taking out my frustrations on nice girls afterward.
It is possible I associated coffee with Lisa, which is why I never tried it. Which is stupid.
I lived with a coffee addict. Every morning, my college roommate, who looked very much like Matthew McConaughey, would limp from his room looking more like Willem Dafoe. I thought he was exaggerating. But he wasn’t. Only once we’d committed to being late to our Religion in the Media class and he’d drank his regular coffee from the campus coffee shop did his Florida sunshine come back. ?
I thought about staging an intervention except I gathered that this was fairly normal for most college students. And so I, like a good Christian boy, abstained. It was simple. I would rather not reenact Jekyll and Hyde with myself every morning.
Much of America might not know of the Mid-Atlantic’s greatest obsession: Wawa. I do not share this obsession nor do I understand it. As Shakespeare might argue, “A 7-Eleven by another name will still be open for 24 hours.” But if the beautiful people of Delaware need something to believe in, let Wawa be it. My mother, hardly an avid coffee drinker, will stop and grab her coffee from Wawa without fail whenever we are driving through Pennsylvania.
I have had coffee about 8 times since that day. I’ve decided that I like it! I have been back to Starbucks. The intense desire to run a half-marathon I got when I first started having coffee has more or else subsided. I get the lingo now. “How many sugars?” really means “How many spoonfuls of sugar do you want?” That phrasing is weird. Not that I’m a grammar czar or anything. (If you’ve read this far into this piece, that should be obvious.) ?
When evaluating coffee’s place is my life, it finds itself nestled in between Delirium Tremens and whole milk. But if I had a choice, I’d probably stick with my go-to drink: Arizona Iced Tea. Either Green Tea with Apple or Mango Madness. I like the sweet stuff.