Coffee Talk



When I was in high school, our school did a yearly stage program called “Coffee Talk”. I think it was run by the Writing Club or something, but the point was that students could submit stories or poems to either be read by someone else or they could read them themselves on stage.

As a writer since middle school, this program interested me. I don’t think it started until I was a Junior or Senior. Or else I just didn’t notice it, in my constant selfish haze world. I decided I wanted to submit something, but wasn’t sure what.

I kept my ears open as to what others might be writing, and I wasn’t thrilled. Almost all of them were the stereotypical teenage crap. How their lives were nothing more than a blackhole in the hellish suburban environment they lived in. What we would later call “emo”.

As Lydia said in “Beetlejuice”: “My whole life is a dark room. One. Big. Dark. Room.”

I had my own emo moments at times as a teenager. I believe everyone does. The “everybody hates me, I hate myself, I hate everybody else” shit. Only I believed that you should keep that shit inside because even though you felt it, you knew in some quasi-mature way that it was stupid to think like that. But with the ever-changing teenage brain, with the neurons cutting their own connections to form the adult brain, you had moments of clarity. Unfortunately, they never lasted long.

In some class one day (keep in mind this was eleven, twelve years ago) I whipped up some stupid story-poem about a sentient eraser and pencil. It took five minutes, and this includes editing and re-writing.

Disgusted with my fellow classmates for not even trying to show an ounce of happiness, I submitted the poem to be read at Coffee Talk. I was too self-conscious in those days to read it myself. Today I would have, but back then I would have been horrified to be on stage.

I didn’t even go to Coffee Talk to see how my poem was received. I didn’t have to. I went into school the next day, and truthfully I had forgotten all about the poem. I normally never got much attention, because I was good at being invisible, a trait I learned my freshman year. But I got a lot of attention that day. Kids AND teachers complimented me on the poem. It was the only one they actually remembered. It was actually a hit. All I could think was, “All the other pieces must have really sucked ass for my poem to be remembered”.

So my impatience with the emo lifestyle (remember, it wasn’t called “emo” back then) as a teenager prompted ten minutes of fame. I also got an interview in the yearbook about being a writer, just for that poem alone. It was baffling back then, to be sure. But I think I do understand it now.


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