her experience with high tea was limited to british tv programs. she’d spent countless hours howling in laughter watching ‘fawlty towers‘, ‘keeping up appearances‘ and ‘to the manor born.‘ she’d owned every episode on vhs, even had them memorized, a fact that was a well kept secret until now. she’d always had a fascination with all things british, the humor, the mannerisms, jane eyre, the yorkshire moors and old english estates. fancy that.
her momma told her of her heritage as a child: english, irish and german. the german slice was of little interest, further proven out by her near failure of german class in high school. the english and irish pieces of her heritage, though, they were fascinating and very alive. she was convinced narnia was a real place somewhere over there. and by george, she was going to have a chocolate box cottage one day, yes, she was.
papa god, good papa that he is, why, he even brought her a friend whose roots were all united kingdom. she grew up having tea several times a day. fascinating. black tea, cucumber sandwiches, sausage rolls, little cakes and tarts, biscuits and digestive crackers. licorice all sorts and peppermints. she knew about all of it, lived it. brilliant.
weeks prior, her friend had told her of this place, a real destination, a very british place with all manner of british fair. oh my. they plotted and planned to visit and eat english pastry. filled with gluten. and sugar. it was time to break all the eating rules if only for a bit.
finally, the day came. they were going to go the ‘place’ for high tea. she speculated to said friend, “certainly, there will be a portal in the place and we’ll just translate to the united kingdom. why not?” indeed, why not?
in keeping with the english theme, rain fell steadily as they drove along to their destination. the pair of them were rather a sanitized version of thelma and louise with a jesus bent, slightly more than eccentric and completely over people pleasing. this was their time. yes, it was.
her friend encountered a problem during the drive. the passenger headrest did not fit her head and neck properly, so for nearly the entire trip, she was not only uncomfortable, but also in a bit of pain. clearly, this was not acceptable. alas, there was no way to remedy the issue while they were driving, so on they went.
each lady had dressed for the occasion, looking very lovely, all made up and gushing with childlike anticipation. when they pulled up to the front of the restaurant and gift shop, she put the car in park and took in the sight before them. her mouth opened to a perfect ‘o’ like shirley temple might have done.
she drew in a long breath like a little girl seeing her first lollipop. the women turned and looked at each other. oh. my. goodness. they had arrived. they were going in. this was going to be good, jolly good, right?
they walked to the entrance and paused, trying to decide who would go in first. it was too much excitement. walking through the foyer, they approached the doorway into the restaurant. a voice without a body asked how many were in their party. she responded, “two, please,” to the invisible woman who then appeared to take them into the dining room.
they slowly entered the charming, quaint space and looked about. the hostess encouraged them to sit wherever they would like. they agreed on a table near the window with a wall opposite them on one side and more tables on the other. the wall featured various photos of british royalty. they gazed upon the royal family, prince philip and the queen mum. she was resting on the wall right above them, gazing down upon their table. surely all would be well if the queen was keeping watch.
their waitress left them to peruse the menus. more big eyes formed as oohs and aahs sounded over the potential selections available to their palates. this was akin to the wallace and gromit episode, ‘a grand day out.‘ could it get better? they decided on the high tea plate. it looked like a feast. after placing their orders, they looked at each other across the table, still hardly believing they were there. it was surreal. america was a world away as they took in the atmosphere.
her friend was moving her neck about, still trying to ease the ache she felt from the headrest issue. always the fixer, always the healer, she looked across the table and spoke. “if you ever get a pair of those balls….” her words trailed off as her ears heard what her mouth had just uttered in public. at the very proper british restaurant.
it hit her at the same time she observed her friend’s expression, the mirth showing in her eyes and already escaping her mouth. and then it was over. it went from zero to sixty in three seconds flat as both women erupted in laughter, doubled over with hands over their mouths. did that really just happen? yes, love, it most certainly did. brilliant.
kind reader, do stop for a moment. it’s not what you think. really. those balls are not the balls you’re imagining right now. these balls were invented by a ballerina in new york city. these are different, for different purposes. oh my. google miracle balls. you will see.
back to the problem at hand. there was no way to reel those words back in. she didn’t dare look at the family to her right. she didn’t know if the father or his children had heard her words, but they were certainly hearing them try to contain the snorts and chortles. crikey, mate.
after several minutes of hysterics, they contained themselves. the queen mum hanging on the wall was no longer looking on with approval, however. her countenance had gone from a controlled, stately expression to one of stern disapproval. who were these two brash american women sorely lacking in manners and decorum, and what was a queen to do?
enjoy high tea, that’s what.
and they did. what a meal. it was more gluten and sugar than either of them had consumed in six months.
copyright © jane doe 2017