And that is how I take my coffee ( a true story)
Attraction is a funny thing.
There’s no control switch when you’re attracted to someone. You find yourself doing odd things that you can’t explain. You will try to justify said things to close friends, colleagues, even people that mean nothing to you. Rounding out your reasoning for being drawn to someone with legitimate purpose.
“I need this person in my life because…”
But it doesn’t need reasoning, because it is usually unreasonable and causes you to do unreasonable things. Attraction.
Did you ever prepare your outfit or conversation or movement – that tiny hand gesture or tilt of the head – with a particular someone in mind? Of course you did! Everybody does. That someone that you got on your mind, they become the inspiration for mundane changes. Little life hacks. Solely for the purpose of being noticed, accepted by that someone.
I am not saying everybody does this all the time. Sometimes you change things or do things just for you, or just for someone you care about and it has nothing to do with attraction.
But there are those other things. And you know the ones I’m talking about. Those stupid things you do to impress stupid people, just because you’re attracted to them.
I drank black coffee, without sugar.
I was 17. I had never liked coffee. I liked Coke, I liked tea – with milk and 3 sugars, I liked whiskey, beer, water, hell I even liked straight milk back then…but not coffee.
I had tried to like it when I was about 15, told mum I wanted to drink coffee, it was something I felt was supposed to be a part of me, together with my deathly artwork and love of The Cure. Mum was kind enough to aid this new venture and she bought home some ‘coffee mate’ one day – a weird concoction of milk and sugar, in a toothpaste tube, that you added to your coffee to help it go down. I tried. I tried, but nope.
So, I was 17. I’d met this guy at an indie club, a friend of a friend. He was deep. He was a university student. He read great big books and talked in philosophical riddles. He wore strange pants and had shaggy hair. He spoke of Neitzsche like he was his mate. Drank from a hipflask on the dance floor. He also went rudely silent and stuck up his long, skinny nose whenever my bubbly and refreshingly mainstream blond friend was around. He was a wanker.
So anyway this wanker, he rustled my feathers, in a good way, stoked my fire. He told me I was special. He talked to me in big words and assumed I was following. And I kind of was, but I was kind of also using my photographic memory to remember the words that stumped me, and would look them up in a dictionary when I got home, of course then trying to drop them into our next conversation, so he knew I had kept up. He never noticed.
One evening at the club, after a good dance to The Stone Roses, a particularly lengthy conversation and a succession of longing looks (on my part) he asked me to meet him during the week – in the daytime – in the city for a coffee.
Now, this was before coffee was what it is today, like before you could get ‘takeaway coffee’ anywhere other than 711. This guy, he drank coffee – because he was a student and super smart and heavy and needed coffee to keep him awake while reading all those super heavy, super long books.
He drank coffee, but I didn’t drink coffee. But I don’t drink coffee!
At 5pm on a Friday (after rushing home from school to get changed and enduring a sluggish, and crowded train ride into town from the suburbs) I walked into the now extinct Rue Bebelon’s (RIP.)
Rue Bebelon’s was a tiny little hovel of a café across from RMIT University. It was cool, mystical, dark and full of ashtrays and people with books and faraway looks. It was where his people congregated. Was I now one of his people?
He was there in a corner, reading of course – The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, the irony. I approached with caution. He stood and greeted me with a kiss on each cheek – how very European – it was the nineties, no one did that. Anyway, it went like this; I sat, he sat, he lit his cigarette, he lit my cigarette, he ordered a Long Black.
A Long Black?! – what the hell is that????!
“What do you have?” He asked, in a half speaking, half breathing heavily, without parting his lips, action.
“Same, yep same.”
– Fuck! What am I doing?!
The coffee came. It’s ok I thought, I’ll just chuck a bunch of sugar in. Happy days.
No. Sugar. Anywhere.
I drank up and listened to his boring conversation for the better part of an hour, parched; mouth feeling like a old shoe – the sole of an old shoe, the taste of the coffee lingering and mocking me. And then he had to go.
He didn’t pay for my coffee. He gave me another peck on the cheek at the door of the cafe and said he’d see me at the club on Saturday night.
That weekend he hooked up with my friend.
I kept drinking black coffee for the next few years. I put sugar in it though, to counteract the bitterness of his memory. And I saw this guy, only a few years ago. A few times actually, in a matter of months. I hid like a child each time, because his presence still made me feel incredibly nervous and insignificant.
The truth was, however, he looked much the same – ugly and grumpy with a turned up, long, skinny nose and derelict clothes. And I thought, ‘…what in Neitzsche’s name was I attracted to back then?’
Then I tasted the coffee.