I love coffee. It keeps me awake, first and foremost, and it also gives me an excuse to take a break from working to walk across the street to grab a cup. Most coffee shops are quiet, conducive to blogging or other work you might have. I like going to coffee shops with friends, reading or writing there on a Saturday morning alone or with someone. I’m no expert but I love sampling new coffees and learning about the beans and the growing process. If someone asked me to coffee as a ‘first date’, though I would definitely go, I would quickly realize how they felt about me. I mean, I love coffee, but…
But I resent coffee as a first date. Precisely because it’s typically not considered a first date by the ‘asker’. It’s a precursor to the event they may or may not invite you to. I’m just saying, let’s call it what it is—coffee, when arranged as a first meeting, is an interview NOT a date. You’re being test driven to see if you’re worthy of being trapped with someone for a longer period of time, say dinner or a movie. If you’ve met online, you’re being inspected to see if you look like your profile pictures, if you lied about your age, weight, or height. If you’ve been around one another before but are meeting for coffee to be alone for the first time, you’re having your demeanor and personality interviewed to see if you’re a good fit. Do you hog the conversation? Do you complain a lot? You can certainly observe a lot during a coffee meeting, but I’m telling you…coffee is an interview, whether you like it or not. Meeting for coffee is less about the act of meeting for coffee, less about enjoying a cup of coffee, than it is an act to see if you are normal or have a unicorn horn sticking out of your forehead. It’s less than genuine, it’s less than personal, and it’s less than what most of you think it is. It’s not that coffee is something great to enjoy (but it is. Mmmm…it is), it’s that coffee was something quick and cheap to make sure you’re not weird.
I suppose what I find so disconcerting about coffee meet-and-greets is that it’s a built-in excuse to jet if you find that, within the first 30 minutes, you’re just not clicking. Listen, I’m the most fickle girl in the world; I can sniff out an escape plan in my sleep. I am always so guilty of wanting to have this escape plan, but the more I think about it, the more I think that’s just not a fair attitude to have. The thirty minutes to an hour it takes to have a cup of coffee, to me, isn’t a sufficient amount of time to decide whether or not someone is worthy of more of your time. And the idea that your time is so precious that you’d rather just meet me beforehand to make sure I don’t have a horn growing out of my forehead before you invite me to dinner is pretty frustrating. I am not sure that thirty minutes is enough time to truly decide if a person is all that you’re looking for. Maybe you can ask them the basics of their life story, but is that really enough?
And when you counter the argument with “but I invite you to coffee and if I like you, ask you to dinner”, I find it even more disdainful and arrogant. Let me clear my schedule to drink coffee for the next 12 hours, just in case you’d like to take me somewhere else if I pass the first round of interviews. If your time is that precious, what makes mine any less valuable?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think first dates are a great opportunity to do something besides movies and dinner. They should be active and involve a common experience that you can discuss both during the date and after. Coffee, to me, doesn’t fit that bill. Don’t get me wrong, if you’ intend to buy me a cup of coffee I will drink it; in fact, if you want to suggest we meet for coffee before we do something else that is planned, I’m okay with that too. But I am not interested in the interview process in and of itself. I hope you’ll give me more than 30 minutes and a cup of coffee to make my impression on you.
Life is about doing things out of your comfort zone. Sometimes I guess that means bad dates. We’ve all been on them, and we’ll all probably be on a few more if we’ve yet to find our husbands or wives. I think this interview process is really changing dating and the dating scene. And maybe not for the better.
But I’ll go on your coffee invitation. Because I love coffee.