A cup of coffee, literally. But, after six weeks of kidding and cajoling, entreaties that bordered on begging, she had agreed to go out with me. After work, for one cup of coffee.

The conversation was desultory, I knew it from the start. It was my fault. She was inspiring; perhaps too much so for me.

I tried to drag my drink out as long as possible, hoping to find inspiration from the java like a gypsy from tea leaves. She was polite, even helpful, but it just wasn’t working for me. My cup was empty in all ways.

“How about dinner some night?” I asked, knowing I was setting myself up for more exquisite agony.

She smiled, very sweetly, and shook her head slightly. “I don’t think so. We’re just not compatible.”

“Oh, I’m not so sure about that,” I lied.

“Well, we certainly seem very different.” She looked around for a moment, then down at the table. “I mean, just look at our drinks.”

I blinked, several times. “What about them?”

“Well, you ordered regular coffee. You only used one sugar.”

“Okay. So, a mocha uses espresso, right?”

“It’s not just the espresso. A good mocha uses whole milk—never skim. And it’s more than just the white chocolate. I think there’s a drop of apple juice, something tangy to complement the flavors. And, of course, always with the whipped cream. What’s a really decadent drink without the topping?”

I thought about that, very deeply. She waited patiently, I think with a trace of sympathy on those lovely features. Then I stood up and walked to the counter.

“A refill, please.”

When the lady had poured I walked over to the flavorings. I unscrewed the top on the chocolate container and poured maybe three tablespoons. The lady glared at me, but I ignored her. Just for fun, I put in two sugars. I sat down, still stirring, and took a cautious sip. My features brightened.

“Not bad.” Her eyes were wide. “Experimentation,” I explained. “That’s what life’s all about.”

She appraised me as I drank again, more deeply.

“Okay,” she finally said. “Dinner. Once. We’ll see how it goes.”

I raised my cup. “I’ll drink to that.”


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