There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and the talking over its head.
uncomfortable for the Dormouse,'" thought Alice; "only, as it's asleep, I suppose it doesn't mind.'"
Pasadena, 1993 - The Huntington Library
"I suggest tea at the Huntington Library."
I am excited. I have never had a formal tea service.
And I will not with this man. He never delivers on this or many other promises that trip.
"Do me a favor," Robert tells me when I call to cancel dinner reservations for the third time (because I have been stood up for the third time). Robert is the owner of Bistro 45, one of my favorite restaurants. "Tell him I think he's a complete jerk, won't you?"
Robert is protective...and incensed. I am stupidly, foolishly in love for the first time, ever. Robert can voice what I, in my heart of hearts, am thinking, but can not say.
Years later, Peggy and I attempt to have tea there, near The Blue Boy, but it is too late for tea. We are turned away.
I have never had tea at the Huntington. Perhaps I'm never meant to.
Atlanta 1998 - The Ritz Carlton
"I don't want any trouble. I just want to be alone and quiet in a room with a chair and a fireplace and a tea cozy. I don't even know what a tea cozy is, but I want one."" - Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Tea cozies are ridiculous. Who the hell decided that a hot pot of tea needed a sweater?
Peggy and I are in the dining room of the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta having tea. I have heard about tea at the Ritz for years. We have a champagne tea service. It's a let down. I'm glad to be with Peggy but the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta is a complete waste of time. It lacks the mystique and finesse of other Ritz Carltons. The room is boring and dingy. Nothing on the tea tray recommends itself to memory. Even the Earl Grey is forgettable.
London 2000 -- Harrod's
Not so at this venerable locale. Once again with Peggy and enjoying a lovely afternoon tea. We are so hungry that we consume all the sandwiches and ask for more...three times. Funny, why don't I remember scones and cream with this tea service?
Savannah 2000 - The Gryphon Tea Room at SCAD
Hani and I make a weekend run to Savannah. We make last minute reservations at a bed and breakfast while driving to the city.
"They have a jacuzzi in the room" Hani says.
The jacuzzi is actually a large tub with jets. When I turn it on (because we had paid for it and I felt compelled to use the darn thing), the noise level is so appallingly loud that Hani and I both freeze, then begin laughing hysterically. This is nothing compared to our later shock when our neighbors engage quite loudly in coitus. Both of us seated on the ginormous king sized bed reading, she and I pause, dumbstruck, incredulity giving way to smirking and smirking lapsing to all out hilarity.
The next morning, at breakfast, when a young couple joins the rest of the table for breakfast, I can't refrain from snorting, a nasal version of, "They had sex! They had sex!" Hani is appalled. I am so childish.
Walking through the city squares, Hani and I stumble across The Gryphon Tea Room. Sidling up the bar, I squeal in delight, seeing tins of my favorite Mariages Frères teas -- but alas! They do not have Marco Polo.
On the other hand, they have wonderful scones and I learn a new trick: you can substitute mascarpone cheese for Devon cream.
At the long bar, the sun pouring through the windows, my sister and I have tea and we talk quietly about the changes in our lives and the adventures yet to come.
Santa Monica, 2002 - Tudor House
Hubby -- then the Significant Other -- humors me by having tea at this British wannabe tea house in sunny Santa Monica. As soon as service is complete however, he makes a beeline for the door telling me that he's going across the street to the would be British pub, to watch a soccer game in progress.
I linger to purchase some items in the gift shop. I am on my way over to the pub to join him when he meets me in the street.
"What happened?" I ask. "I thought you were going to watch soccer?"
"You know what's wrong with a faux British pub in Santa Monica?"
"The faux British people."
"Oh," I respond. "This is L.A. Everyone's faux."
Bisley, 2003 - Bisley Camp
Pete has a tiny kitchenette in his caravan and I am able to make a batch of scones. Hubby -- newly Hubby at that -- has been on the range all day; it's a cold day and I know he will like a spot of tea and warm scones. There are enough to share with Pete and some of his friends who have joined. Seated in lawn chairs outside the camper around a barbecue pit, it seems almost normal to have tea whilst in the background the continuous report of gunfire can be heard.
Among the men -- most of whom are quite lovely -- is one gentleman whose accent is so plummy I can barely comprehend him, which is just as well since I think he has too high an opinion of himself. He does say something funny though.
"Do you know what the difference between shit and shite is?"
"The same difference between Smith and Smythe."
From our perch at the window in the upstairs tea salon of this particular branch of the venerable tea house, Jules regards me with faraway eyes. She says there is no one she would rather be with at this moment, but I know I am not the person she longs to be with in Paris. I am taken back four years earlier, to my time in Paris with Peggy when I was nursing my own wounds. I am now in Peggy's role and I am filled with gratitude to her; she gave me the tools with which to manage and gently handle Jules' broken heart.
She is trying a smoky tea called Czar Alexandre. I am imbibing my usual Marco Polo.
I lean over and say to her very seriously and very earnestly: "Jules. In one year, you will look back on this moment and marvel that you ever felt the way you do."
She doesn't believe me.
But one year later, blissfully enjoying her new home and her new life, she says to me, "Paris was where things changed for me."
The miracle of time and tea to heal all wounds.
London 2006 - Kensington Palace
The orangerie of Kensington Palace is exquisitely sunny. A wall of windows makes brightens the entire room, despite the grey outside. Oh if only I had a home with 20 foot ceilings, I would have windows this high too.
Kaly is concerned that the tea service here is not very good.
I assure her it is just fine. I am having hot chocolate though, because the raisin scones are not enough to satisfy my need for something sweet and rich.
"Should we go to Kensington Palace?" I ask.
The palace where Diana, Princess of Wales, once lived, is only a stone's throw away.
Kaly is not given to touristy excursions during her annual trip to London but she agrees to accompany me. Oh what a dreadful tourist trap it is.
Wimbledon 2006 - Wimbledon
Through a bit of luck and very well connected friends, we are enjoying our first trip to Wimbledon in high style. The day began with champagne, Pimm's and a sit down lunch service before we are given tickets to the various courts. At first I am disappointed that we do not have tickets to Centre Court. But Hubby whispers to me, "No no, we want to be at Number 1 Court because Roger Federer is playing."
Can you imagine that at my first live tennis match, I am at Number 1 Court at Wimbledon watching Roger Federer play?
But it is blazingly, horribly hot. No one knows yet what we know: I am pregnant. The heat is nearly unbearable. But Federer does what he does best and soon thereafter, Hubby and I escape to the air-conditioned tent in the cordoned-off VIP area. Across from our tent is the NBC tent where I see some famous faces passing by.
Inside our tent, a full tea service is already waiting and several members of our party are indulging while cheering on Argentina in the World Cup, which is being shown on two large plasma screen TVs. I am telling you, I have never had first class service so exquisite.
"How do we top this?" I murmur to Hubby as we sit down to a gorgeous tray of sandwiches, sweets and scones. Devon Double Cream does not taste as good anywhere in the world as it does in England and I am suffused with delight.
When Roger Federer comes out of the NBC tent later that afternoon and genially signs my Wimbledon program book, Hubby says, "We don't. I think this is it."
The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: 'No room! No room!'" they cried out when they saw Alice coming.
"There's plenty of room!" said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.
Alice is correct: there's plenty of room. Where should we meet for tea?