Have you noticed?
Some people just can’t stand being civilized.
Never mind that, for thousands of years, humankind has been struggling to leave behind the caveman approach to life. (And yes, I will keep that reference in here, although a Geico Stone-Ager may reproach me with sad eyes and lots of facial hair.)
Actually, cavemen are something like teenagers, or at least some teenagers. Not the teenagers I know (Here’s hoping!) but the ones you read about. And someone has to be the market for all the stuff that goes on these days in the pop culture. So I am assuming that there are these teenage-like folks out there somewhere. They seem to love music that sounds like global warfare in a tin can. And the ones who can manage it either like to wear lots of hair all over, or none at all.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
No indeed. I am simply saying that there are a lot of people in this day and age who simply cannot stand civilization. They would rather just go out and, individually or nationally, scream at each other, and poke holes in themselves and others, and throw things, and shoot off guns, and any number of other things I won’t mention here, than — well, drink tea together.
Yes, the other day I was invited to my very first actual, real life, individual, non-organizational tea. It was in honor of an elderly friend (as elderly as I am or more so) who is a delightful person and has two lovely daughters who got the idea and executed it about as flawlessly as anyone could.
It made you understand the whole mood behind Masterpiece Theater.
Now, teawise, I should note that there are some dangers involved. I have in the past drawn your attention to the dread “label creep,” the awful tendency of the paper label on a teabag to get drawn inexorably into the cup as you pour in the water. (This can be eliminated by the purists’ habit of brewing with unbagged tea leaves, but that is often a messy custom at best.) The other danger in drinking tea is that you can become so mellowed out you can’t fight wars or murder people. However, we are aware that such as Lord Wellington and George Washington possibly drank tea, so this is not something that we need to worry about excessively
Debbie and Donna worked for two days to make this tea for Louise perfect, and they succeeded. They formally invited Louise’s four monthly lunch partners to a sit-down tea party with a perfect candlelit setting, English crackers to pull (complete with gold crowns, favors, and fortunes), and exquisite goodies like scones, the freshest of fruits with dips, several different delectable kinds of cookies, five or six varieties of delicate little sandwiches, almost everything home-made.
And tea, of course.
Now, to level with you, I am not much of a tea drinker. Coffee is my drink of choice, even though in the last year or two it has deeply betrayed me, so I can hardly drink the stuff anymore. But old dogs can still learn supplemental tricks, and here I broke new ground for myself. I drank the tea, discovered new varieties, (vanilla chai, Earl Grey) and actually learned to like it with sugar and cream, where before I had always chugged it black like coffee.
Now, all of us elderly types who were gathered there may have been just a tad combative in real life. When called for. But not at this tea party. Every one of us felt an instinctive urge to live up to its civilized traditions.
All in all, it was a lovely and memorable afternoon.
Maybe it’s the sugar and cream that make the difference. Because drinking your coffee black, now that I think of it, is typically macho, hairy-chested behavior and we really don’t need a whole lot more of that in this world. Tea won’t feminize you, but the ceremony of tea parties surely works against killing the guy you just had tea with that afternoon.
No one country seems to be any better at the “tea mood” than any other, and in some parts of its history, England least of all. Still, the British are tea partyers beyond compare, and the spirit of the tea party should be part of every country’s diplomatic resources. Trust me, peace through tea is not the same as peace through any other beverage. Beer and wine are more likely to lead to increased hostility and missiles.
Or maybe not. Granted, the Japanese have a strong tea tradition as well as a strong military tradition, but I never let facts stop me.
Could be they didn’t drink it with sugar and cream, and just a touch of lemon.
I still say that we could do a lot worse than invite our enemies to sit down to a cup of tea (vanilla chai with sugar and real cream?) and patiently, persistently, talk things over together.
It’s the civilized way.
Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears in the Times-News on alternate Sundays.
Have you noticed?