One tall dark mocha frap

"Niko, hello. Are you a coffee drinker? Can I ask you a few questions about it?"

I don't think I was particularly close to the LIA-COM kids, which is why I sort of know that the only time they'll talk to folks like me is when they need me to answer something. Of course, that isn't general, but if it's from out of the blue, they definitely need something. I remember answering a survey for Kizia, and I remember striking down Bea's idea of carbonated milk tea (because really, will you drink something with conflicting sensations?) and that's within two hours of each other.

This time, however, it was Asia. It must be some improvised focus group discussion. And I was in the middle of work, or at least, waiting for the stuff I'm working on to come up so I can work on it.

"Why do you drink coffee?"

"To feel warm, mostly. Or feel luxurious, in the case of Starbucks."

"Why is it luxurious?"

"Because it's expensive? Parang I treat myself with Starbucks sometimes. Dark mocha frap. Apart from that I don't really drink kasi it's not just a habit."

"Why not the other coffee shops?"

"Starbucks kasi is closest to me. Sa office at least."

That should set it up. Her questions, as expected, were about my coffee drinking habits, which is odd, because I never really saw myself as a coffee drinker. I drink coffee, but only on occasion, or lately, on impulse. I know people who can't go on a day without a caffeine shot. I don't think I need it. Anyway. Drinking habits. Stuff like "how do you like your coffee?" or "where do you drink your coffee?", stuff which I don't really have answers on, since I don't expect myself to have a defined preference, which makes me an unreliable sample. I don't drink, as I said.

"Do you drink coffee with people?"

"Does that matter?"

"Well, to you?"

"It doesn't. Thus the question."

"Okay. Why doesn't it matter?"

"I dunno. Siguro kasi I don't really see coffee as a social something. I'm not the type who goes, 'let's have coffee'. Or maybe because nobody ever did that to me. I mean, it's drinking. How can you socialize while drinking coffee?"

"Really? Kahit back in school?"

"Nobody really came to me unless they needed me. Let's put it at that. I had Starbucks during college, but only because it's... practice or something. Not really casual. Maybe I'm being cynical. Bitter, yes."

"Why are you bitter?"

"We're talking about coffee and we end up talking about this? I thought this was something for your class or whatever."

"Sorry. What I got from you is that drinking coffee was a practice of your peers before, yes? And you said not really but because you're bitter, right?"

"The association is... you know. Peers drink coffee casually. Association."

I remember attempting to invite Les for coffee before her last day of work. I remember attempting to invite Raisa for coffee when she was still in Manila, back when I still didn't give a damn about whether people cared about my invitations. Obviously it never went anywhere. The latter, I sense, it was an outright rejection, the "I don't like you" sort.

"So I'm just asking what is it about them you're bitter about that lead you to think it was casual, not really a practice. Like yosi."

"I don't associate coffee with people. Because... yun nga. It's a casual thing for them. Nobody invites me. I feel bitter. Clear?"

"No, it's clear now. Sorry if I had to recount the bitter days."

"I've been recounting bitter days the past week."

"Not healthy, Niko! Stop!"

I gave myself some breathing space. I wasn't annoyed, really. Surprised, more so.

"So what do you often drink? Water? Seriously, ha."

"Water. No, really. I oddly prefer hot chocolate. Milk, breakfast habit. And I'm 20. But I try not to be too hyper. Caffeine rush, yes?"

"Do you really feel the caffeine rush?"

"People hate the hyper me."

I had this weird feeling today, walking into the office from lunch, holding a dark mocha frap from Starbucks. It feels like I was trying to prove something to everyone, perhaps trying to tell them that I can do coffee like everybody else. Actually, I was just sleepy. Sleepier than usual.

And your responses...

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