Fika; or, The Enjoyment of Coffee

Apr 17, 2019 · 9 min read

Nicholas Powell writes an ode to coffee, quality time, and the gender-assigning of objects, and it all might just be a metaphor.

Every night, just as the owls and the birds and the rustling trees began to take over the noises of traffic and coughing cars spitting out fumes, my mind would stare into the manufactured glow of a set of computer monitors on my desk. Each of the three monitors, with its battered bamboo top and stainless-steel legs, displaying various texts of all sizes. From misshapen, rotted scraps of poetry to a seemingly unending list of never-quite-done-but-they’ll-be-done-eventually manuscripts.

Occasionally, in an attempt to dodge the use of better phrases like “almost never” and “probably one day,” I would peck at the bulged keys of the keyboard, wrapping myself in the odd comfort of a cold blanket, nursing a warm cup of coffee. When not doing that, I would scroll through news feeds from various countries and locals, like now, pondering how the enjoyment of coffee, no matter color or creed of the mug, was being taken around the world.

That particular coffee and he that I’m with — a strong, colorful brew with heavy cream and enough sugar to give a refinery a run for its money — isn’t your average coffee. The mug, with a chip on his burgundy-clay lips, may appear to be just like any other mug one might find while perusing his local shops. Yet, appearances, like many things, I’ve found to be quite deceiving.

After all, that perpetually-unfinished coffee and he would always sit patiently beside me, waiting oh-so-kindly for my tongue to meet and return to the brim of his ceramic, burgundy-clad lips — ever retaining their crimson color and vibrant, radiating warmth.

The enjoyment of coffee, to some, might be seen in association with writing, and that may be true. It may also be true that it’s hard to imagine anyone having never had a coffee at some point in his life, whether it be a he, a she, an it, or a thing in between.

Perhaps then, it is within this notion where people use analogies and metaphors to talk about topics that feel too awkward in wording to slip off the tongue in casual, socially plasticated conversation. Or, perhaps, it’s those very notions — those metaphors and analogies, that should be stretched to discuss ideas that, otherwise, might be seen as criminal or socially impolite to places around the globe.

Through careful study totaling hundreds, if not thousands, of beautiful hours, meticulously analyzing his sweet, sugar-filled warmth, I’ve found that it’s he, not the writing, that makes him and I so entwined. If anything, my dearest caffeinated sweet, though encouraging, can often be found attempting to take me away from my writing, in some attempt to do rather odd things best left under the quilts on a bed. Oh, that silly little he, tender and kind as he may be, often encourages me to take a break from my ferocious spasms of typing, perhaps for fear that the violent mechanical clacking of the switches in the keyboard that glow neon-white against the texture of my desk might become weary from such words that I write.

Still, I couldn’t help but wonder about it. About that relationship between him and me—between my coffee and me. Not quite so the relationship itself, but of the safety of the relationship. A safety, I’ve found, best left to the birds and the bees — the metaphors and analogies of it all.

Regardless, it’s not easy to find the right coffee — the right he, or she, or it, or even thing in between, that’s willing to put up with such sour-faced expressions and old-man mannerisms that I’ve seemed to accrue. Oh my, how we’d often spend long nights together, cuddled around each other while I wrote, with him constantly and eagerly awaiting each new sentence.

In truth, though, despite this heavily emphasized phrasing toward the enjoyment of my coffee, I wouldn’t call myself addicted. I’ve never been so much addicted to him, as I’ve been addicted to the infatuation of his touch and taste, often taking casual pauses between writing to embrace. Such a heat and warmth that casually brings along sweetness and the constant temptation for more, is, as I’ve found, quite hard to find. Even so, when we cuddle, I can’t help but feel that creeping paranoia sinking in, as the world’s little self-proclaimed coffee connoisseurs attempt to creep in and steal my passions away, as though my passions are little more than fleeting affairs.

Those pauses between short periods of cradled, rocking passion, were longing ones for him, always attempting to cull me back from my work with his sugar-sweet, milk-dyed words. For that, I do sincerely hope he knows just how much I appreciate such care for something seemingly so majestically and magically mundane.

Still, as is often the case, my work must come first, so often to the sad, steamed dismay of his figure’s slender body, flushed and tepid to the touch. Still, in those moments, he patiently would wait for me to come back for another kiss — or even for us simply to touch, feeling my muscled fingers slip around his warm, slender grip, keeping everything — even the emotional twinges between us, just as they were the moment we last embraced. Indeed, just as those whispered buzzes of sugar-high emotions were, as if the previous kiss were only moments ago. An emotional and physical connection, poised and framed temporarily like a frozen moment of body and mind, displayed for all of those fickle little socialites to gawk and gaze at in a bid to race toward hysteria.

However, for the kind of he, like the him that I have, with his soft, burgundy lips, filling me with such sweet sincerities that I could never hope to find myself, is, in fact, quite difficult. Now, if you’re you, and I do believe you are you, you might have no problem going down to your nearest shopping center — or to an online shopping center (if you’re into that kind of process) — and finding the right he, or she, or it, or any one of the things in between for you. Browsing the aisles or the pictures, reading the brief bits of information you can find, putting the he or the she or the it or any one of the things in between in your cart, and hoping that you’ve made the right choice. Hoping and praying to any one of the 5,000 gods that tickles your fancies, preparing in your mind all the rigamarole you’ll have to go through in order to go through the store’s horrid customer service and return policy should your future purchase turn out tasting sour and bitter, curling your lips in the process.

That’s not even to mention how often you’ll get glares and judgment from those self-proclaimed connoisseurs of fine blends and perfect roasts, insisting how you somehow must have done something to upset the poor brew, or that you, you, must have done something wrong that caused the coffee to sour and turn bitter in your mouth. How your parents may even scold and berate you, demanding to know how such a fine-looking, store-bought mug wasn’t up to your supposedly high standards. How they would publicly belittle you, insisting that you simply must be sick not to find their supposedly perfectly brewed coffee and mug good enough for you.

I’ve found that simply perusing the stores for such a he, or she, or it, or thing in between, lined with row upon row of cheaply built, made-in-Boringville hes or shes under purpose-built, dimly lit lights and filled with knockoff, store-brand coffee, offer hardly enough variety to make such a difficult decision. Coffee, as I hope one comes to find, is a very serious matter. I find that if one truly wishes to find the perfect one — the perfect coffee — he must be patient. One should not be rushed into securing the supposedly perfect coffee, only to find it burning your lips.

It’s not easy to find the perfect brew that equally comes with the perfect mug. My sweet he, though a bit chipped and beaten, has always been carefully and compassionately supportive and loving in my fits of creative self-hatred that only a mirror could hold a candle to. He often knows when to heat me up with his warmth, long before I’ve had the chance to say a word, sleepily waking up at the crack of dawn, to already find him up and ready for more.

Of course, casual little couplets of social-perfect parasites, attached to their mind-wandering eyes and (what they consider to be) perfect matching coffees, wouldn’t be so kind as to view our connection — the one between him and me, as one so similarly in value to their own. Those little peepers, spoiling their sugar-sweet words with peppers and pompous gall, would barge their vision through my already-open windows, with their respective curtains purposefully pulled back, and would proceed to make the declaration to the world of their positively damnable discovery, like they’ve uncovered the heretical beliefs of their casually — but not birthday-suit-casually — criminal neighbors.

There are plenty of self-proclaimed and closeted coffee snobs, of course, hiding themselves in little pantries, surrounding their fragile minds and fragile corpses in layers of the same, tired coffee grounds. Critics and coffee goers who would deem me wrong, or worse — sickly and diseased — for liking my hes and my hims, over my shes and my things in between. They would so easily cast their ire over my choice of mug and brew, as though their choice is the definitive choice.

To such a critic who thinks in those kinds of ways, so thought-forwardly naïve in his facade of knowledge behind the wells of falsified experience, thinking that he and only those like him drink the right kind of coffee in the right kind of mug — I would implore him to taste all the different brews from all different kinds of mugs and then, and only then, would I give him any right to judge my choice of coffee. The kind of critic who sticks up his nose, so plasticlike in his attempts to appear rich and vibrant as the vibrant steam rises from his disposable coffee cup into the frosted sky, only to find his vibrancy melting when he challenges the heat of the sun.

The truth the sugar-addicted critic would hate to hear — refuse to hear, even — with his plastic, mannequin body and earbud ears too busy listening to the whispers and societal approvals of dying crowds, is that, despite the claims, the he of mine is not any more inclined to do anything than the shes and the its and the things in between. Though I admittedly take more sips from his maroon-cherry lips, that’s entirely because of the microschims — the sense of thrill I get when he and I are close, with him always willing to calm and purr on my mind, even when I’m far, far from deserving it.

That he, that coffee, has been with me through quite a lot, and I would so duly hope that such a critic wouldn’t refuse to embrace the love that a brew could provide simply because the color or shape of the mug wasn’t quite what he had hoped for.

NICHOLAS POWELL (Yourwolfsdengaming) is 22 years old and writes poetry and fiction in his free time. He enjoys writing stories that challenge perceptions, both good and bad, of various ideas and thoughts that exist, or have existed, within us as human beings.

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