Goth Tea Party

Tea-and-Shingle.jpgSo I have this alter ego as a freelance writer, and in the course of that alter ego’s duties I found myself pleasantly occupied in interviewing Cee Dolenc, the owner and operator of Longmont’s historical Thompson House Inn. (I was writing about tea houses.) At the end of that particular project, I had a photograph to return to her, and I really didn’t want to consign it to the tender mercies of the U. S. Postal Service.

Meanwhile, I have a friend who was working on a hellish paper for school about the same time as I was working on my freelance project, which while not being inherently hellish itself had been endowed with hellish proportions due to my tendency to procrastinate. I think we were each doing about 6,000 words a day for a couple of days there. So when it became apparent that we would both meet our deadlines, we hit upon the idea of tea at Thompson House to celebrate. I’d get to return the photo, we’d get to have tea, and life would be very sweet indeed.

And so we did. Reservations were made. Come Saturday, me, hubby, and friend all piled on the black eyeliner, black fingernail polish, and, in us gals’ cases, elegant shoulder wraps that we don’t get nearly enough excuse to wear, and we drove up to Longmont.

Cee invited us to putter around the gift shop while she set up our table. Hubby promptly fell in love with a package of “An Invitation To Tea” cards. He says he’s going to use them in an upcoming role playing game session, but he hasn’t revealed whether it’ll be in the AD&D world or in that game of Paranoia 2000 that he keeps threatening to run but never quite gets around to. Meanwhile, I started to get tempted by the lovely little bottles of raspberry curd that were sealed with stamped sealing wax–I’m a sucker for wax seals–but our table was ready before I could give in to that sweet, sweet siren call.

The pre-tea ritual at Thompson House is to freshen up with warm hand towels scented with rose water. This is the same thing hubby and I absolutely love about certain Japanese restaurants (I think Yuko is the one I’m remembering), only the pre-sushi ritual doesn’t usually involve rose scents. There is nothing quite so yummy as a warm hand towel before dinner. But after that, every time I ate something, I couldn’t tell whether I was smelling the roses or the fresh fingernail polish. No big deal. Just odd.

The tea menu is not printed. Instead, Cee comes out and tells you a little bit about G. H. Ford tea and then recites the whole darn menu from top to bottom. When she was done the three of us felt compelled to applaud before blurting out our choices: for hubby, the cinnamon; for our friend, the vanilla; for myself, the Darjeeling. Cee says that the only really hard part about reciting the tea menu is mentally scanning ahead to omit whatever teas aren’t currently in stock.

I shall now attempt to recall the contents of the triple-tier yummies tray:

  • Heart-shaped scones (to be spread with strawberry jam, lemon curd, and/or Devonshire cream)
  • Open-faced cucumber sandwiches with mint butter
  • Heart-shaped crackers spread with almond butter and topped with almonds
  • Fruit bread spread with an unidentified whipped spread (possibly marionberry honey)
  • Tiny round sugar-dusted ginger tea cookies
  • Eclairs

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. According to my husband, “It is traditional to negotiate deals with your fellow tea-party-goers, but nobody trades their scones for some reason.” I was fortunate to be in the company of two people who don’t like cucumbers. More cucumber sandwiches for me. Rock on.

The great discovery of our day–and this despite my husband and I being somewhat experienced already with the whole “going out for tea” shtick–was this: Regardless of how elegant the tea setting and how proper each person’s manners and how fancy everyone’s dressed, everyone becomes a delighted six-year-old child again the moment they drop a sugar cube into their tea and watch it disintegrate.

So. A lovely Saturday was had by all. The experience was only slightly marred on the ride home when, due to a unanimous declaration of “still hungry,” we stopped at a Burger King drive-thru for fries and onion rings. What the hell. You can sit us down at a Victorian high tea, but we’re still modern-day Americans and we like our salt and grease.

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