Yesterday morning I met a girlfriend for coffee. It was her suggestion, she sent me a text, “Do you have time for a coffee tomorrow?" As we sat chatting, me with my latte and her with.........what was that? In front of her was a tall glass of some sort of warm chocolate drink, I raised an eyebrow, "I don't drink coffee" she said.
Let's meet for coffee doesn't always mean coffee.
As a child I was told coffee was for grown ups. There was always a teapot on the dining room table and we drank tea for all three meals, but coffee back then was strictly a grown up dinner party occasion. My mother had one of those nifty 1970's peculators and at the end of a long evening she'd be whipping up coffee's (with liqueurs) in the posh coffee cups that only came out "for good".
Perhaps that’s why I thought I was so sophisticated as a 20 something meeting my girlfriends for coffee on a Saturday morning? Over latte’s, we’d dissect the previous evening. Did you notice who he arrived with? Did they leave together? Wasn’t the music terrible? How did we get home? How funny was the cab driver? So, what happened to you? Where did you end up? Is that pash rash on your chin? I want all the details, don't miss a bit!
Newspapers were shuffled, headlines were shared, future careers were discussed, exams passed and failed. As the day went by second and third orders were made, breakfast turned in to lunch. We'd laugh so hard we couldn't speak, tears would roll down our faces as we imitated each others tragedy's from the night before. We'd finish each other's stories and clarify the hazy details. There were no mortgages, no children, no husbands.
By my late 20’s a coffee became a safe date or a suggestion. A coffee could be the beginning of a relationship or the disastrous end. “I think we should talk, shall we meet for coffee”? At the end of a long dinner party when I realized I wanted to be more than friends with G he asked “would you like to come in for coffee” I declined and then kept my fingers crossed for a week that he’d call.
In my 30’s it was an on again/off again relationship with decaf, 4 children in 6 years meant I'd just get it back only to have to say goodbye again. There was the antichrist of coffee shops.........the dreaded play cafe, coffee with screaming toddlers, small slides, tiny cars and trains. Parents squished in to a room, looking like sleep deprived giants amongst the little people, relying on their coffee to keep their eyes open after an evening of teething and night feeds.
Joining the expat world meant coffee mornings, I dreaded the idea but quickly discovered it was a lifeline to new friendships and information. Where can I find Huggies? Does anyone know of a good hairdresser or doctor? Did you know the Williams family, they were in Jakarta in 2002? Or my favourite "do you know the Browns, they're Australian!"
Tomorrow I'll meet my friend Catherine for a "quick coffee" after school drop off, as we sit down we'll laugh about the two wooden chairs I've already broken and I'll look for a safe one. I'll order my latte and she'll pull a tea-bag out of her handbag and we'll giggle about the absurdity of the lack of tea bags and how we need rations. We'll solve the problems of the world and then head off on our days because that's what "coffee" is, it's a ritual, an experience and sometimes it's got nothing to do with coffee.