Tales From Earth:Coffee Addiction
Coffee's got a bad name these days. It used to be simple. It used to be milk and two sugars. It used to be mid-morning with neighbours and biscuits. It used to be after dinner with friends and mints. Now it's the workers who are being exploited in the coffee fields. It's Starbucks with its stranglehold on American society and the global economy. It's drug addiction; caffeine is the most accessible drug out there, and drugs are bad, bad, bad. It’s fast becoming a taboo topic. You only have to suggest getting a cup of coffee with someone you’ve met, and suddenly they get all testy and start shouting and shouting. Someone even slapped me for it once.
I like simple. This is why I shouldn't drink coffee anymore. Going to my local coffee house makes my head hurt. I get confused by words like "Grandé", "Americano" and "percolator". Besides, I'm meant to be cutting down on caffeine. Apparently it doesn't mix well with my tablets.
But I find myself in there. I can't help it. I could be walking through town, window shopping and decide I need to quench my thirst. I could be having a bad day at work and decide I need a little pick-me-up at lunch (before my sabbatical I'd be in at least three times a week to pick up a coffee and a pastry of some sort). I could be lying in bed deciding what to do with my day, and realize I need to see her again.
Rosa. She's the barista at my local. She's my favourite. She knows me. I used to be in there so often she couldn't help it. People tell me I'm not a forgettable person. I think she likes me. By nature, I'm not a confident person, so I'd never say anything about it, but I had my suspicions. They say you can see it in a person's eyes.
And they were gorgeous eyes. Deep brown, coffee coloured, like reflections of the cups she stares into day in, day out as if they absorbed it. White, milky eyes, delicately creamy, with a strong, rich coffee droplet for each iris. The dark eyelashes that flick out around it, like the chocolate shavings on a cappuccino. She's delicious.
I remember the first time I saw them. I was transfixed. She caught me looking at her, and shyly shifted her glance, pretending to be doing something else, like clean a mug or something. At first I thought she was ignoring me, but she'd keep checking back to see if I was still staring. I was. She likes attention, Rosa.
After that, every time I walked in and she saw me, she'd suddenly get very clumsy and flustered. She'd be so overcome it was almost like she couldn't bear to look at me, and would always do something that involved breaking away from my stare. It's cute when girls are coy. Sometimes she’d get so embarrassed she'd have to get someone else to serve me.
That's why I make sure I only go in when she is the only one on shift.
"Hello, Rosa" I said, with a smile I'd rehearsed for best effect. She tipped her head up, and her eyes met mine. Her pupils were huge and dark today. Like espressos. I read somewhere that your pupils dilate when you're in love. Or you're afraid. Or in the dark. God, she's beautiful when she's in love.
"What can I get for you today, sir?" She replied, with a slight shake to her voice. It happens when you get nervous; it used to happen to me. It was a little inappropriate to start flirting verbally just yet, so I gave a hearty little chuckle, just to let her know I thought she was funny.
"Well," I said, leaning onto the counter putting my face a little closer to hers, "what would suggest, Rosa?" I’ll drink what you want me to drink. You’re lovely. You'll take care of me. The look on her face suggested to me she was giving the question some serious thought. This was obviously working.
"The, erm...most popular choice is probably the cappuccino. Or maybe the latté. But, whatever you choose, sir." Her voice sounded a little comfortable, which worried me. Perhaps she thought I wasn't interested enough, thought this was just about the coffee. Oh, poor Rosa. You have the sweetest heart.
"Come on, Rosa" I purred. "Don't you think I deserve something a little more...exotic?" I'd rehearsed the voice as well. I couldn't afford to take any chances with her.
"Erm, well... I..." She began to stutter. Bless. Getting all worked with emotion.
"Sssh!" I reassured her. I wanted her to feel comfortable with me. "I want you to feel comfortable with me" I said. Her lips were poised as if she were about to say "oh" but instead she gave a small, breathy cough. "Look, don't worry your pretty little head about it." They love compliments. Girls. "I'll take a latté"
Ever the professional, Rosa got straight to work on making me my coffee, dedicated to the all the complicated machinery against the back wall. She moves with such grace, such finesse, tugging on those levers; just look at those arms. Smooth, smooth arms. It took all my restrain not to jump over the counter and kiss her right there and then. Beautiful Rosa. Sweet, precious Rosa.
"Rosa". She didn't turn around. Maybe she couldn’t hear with this hissing and whirring of the machines. Or maybe she knew there was more to come. "Rosa, I love you."
It’s always difficult to gauge someone’s reaction to this situation, but I can safely say I was well off the mark. I didn’t for a second realise she'd be so overcome by it. In some sort of involuntary romantic spasm, she twisted on her heels and threw the hot, hot coffee she'd been preparing in to the air. By gross misfortune the bulk of it landed on my chest and face, and temporarily caused me to go quite blind. Oh Rosa, you bashful little creature. Look what you've done.
When I could open my eyes, I did. Rosa was obviously hideously embarrassed and had hidden herself from me. Nowhere to be seen. She should know I wouldn't be mad by this. It was just an accident.
I took a biscotti and put it in my outside coat pocket. I left the money on the till and walked out, smiling.