Sunday, October 26, 2014


       When I was three, I realized that women were fundamentally different from men.  Men had their hair cut by barbers, wore pants, drank coffee, and stood to pee.  Women had their hair dressed by hair dressers, wore dresses, drank tea, and sat to tee-tee.  I understood the connection between drinking tea and tee-teeing, but not between drinking coffee and peeing.  I asked my mother if coffee were made from peas.  Without asking me where I got that idea, she said it was made from beans.  I thought, “Close enough.”

When I was four, I heard my mother in the kitchen early one winter morning.  She was sitting in the dark with the shades drawn.  She was drinking coffee.  I was horrified.  But then I was intrigued.  This meant that ANYTHING was possible!  Ten minutes later she heard me sobbing in the bathroom.  She ran in to see me standing in front of the toilet trying to urinate.  “Honey!” she cried, “What are you doing?”

“I’m trying to pee like Daddy!” I cried.  “But I can’t do it!  It’s running down my legs!”

She said, “Honey, only boys and men can tee-tee standing up.”

I cried, “But you were drinking coffee!”

She said, “Huh?”

I never tried to stand to pee again after that, but I did learn to enjoy coffee like a man.  And I learned to adore tea like a woman.

My tea is subtle and seductive with names like Prince of Wales or Earl Grey.  But my favorite is Downton Abbey’s® Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding Tea shipped to me directly by the Minister of Supply upon order of the Minister of Tea of the Republic of Tea®.  My mouth waters as I prepare to serve it to myself on a silver tray with lemon curd on a scone.  Hell, with a peanut butter sandwich.

Years ago, in National Geographic, I read an article about the tough-but-gentle people who live in the Himalayas.  The writer interviewed an ancient man living in a cave high on the face of a mountain in Nepal.  The writer asked the wrinkled fellow with the twinkly eyes whether he missed having the conveniences of western civilization.  The man, whose white beard flowed to his chest and who was so old that he probably had to sit to pee, said, “I have my good, strong, hot sweet tea and my friends.  What more could I want?”

I think about that man sometimes.  His soul has surely soared heavenward as his body burned on a funeral pyre, but our spirits are linked by tea.  By the ritual, the slowingdownness of making and sipping tea.  The forced steppingbackness from the daily rushing to hither, thither, and yon.  The inthemomentness of closing the eyes and inhaling the magical aroma deep into the soul.

I, too, am old now, and I am content with being an old woman.  With having my white hair dressed by a hair dresser.  With sitting to tee-tee, though sometimes with difficulty getting up afterward.  And with indulging myself, caressing myself, adoring myself, with my daily ritual of tea.

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