Oct 22, 2010

Tea and a Thought: Coffee

Tea cups print by Hennie Haworth

I'm a tea drinker. It's who I am. I tell people that I was bottle-fed tea as a baby and I'm only half-sure I'm making it up. In my fifteen years here in the States, I've never had coffee. (Okay, I had a sip once at a PTA meeting a few years ago, but I didn't swallow, so it doesn't count.) If you've ever seen the "America runs on Dunkin" (Donuts) campaign, you'll know that America runs on coffee. It's true. So, why have I so defiantly walked-on-tea instead of running-on-coffee all this time? I'd normally say "because I don't like coffee" but—it's Friday and I just found out I'm fat so I'm off sugar and my defenses are low—in truth, it's because I know that if I drink coffee, I'll turn into an American. 
Just like that. 
I'll wear comfortable sneakers with jeans. I won't care what people think of me. I'll return my food when my waiter gets my order wrong (instead of just eating my wrong order, thinking this is what I'm meant to eat). When I order a bagel with butter, I'll actually get a bagel with butter and not a bagel with mustard. I've grown to love my accidental bagel with mustard which, of course, I've always eaten because it's what I'm meant to eat. Americans don't get mustard when they order butter—or if they do, they return it.  Ugh! Do you see my dilemma?
My tea-only diet keeps me unintelligible ... and Americans prefer me that way.  Yes, Americans only like me because I'm not American (and I quirkily let fate decide my diet). The longer I'm here though the more I feel myself cave to the American way; I don't care as much what strangers think of me, I stop myself constantly to wonder if I say Billy Joelle or Joel when attributing Uptown Girl, and to question why I bother to dig (ahem, okay—buy), boil, peel, and mash potatoes when I could just add milk and water to the box in the press. There's no doubt in my mind that if I was to swap my Barry's tea bags for Dunkin or Starbucks coffee, I'd lose the plot/Green Card.

I'm telling you all of this because this morning, for the first time since I arrived here all those years ago, I was tempted to cheat on my tea pot. Yes, I was tempted to risk my marriage (my husband is American), my mustard, and my life in Brooklyn (I'd have to move to the suburbs to wear those jeans and sneakers) for a coffee pot ...

... a gorgeous, brown leather, tea-wrecking coffee thermos by Sol & Luna.

But it just occurred that I can have my tea and drink it, too, by simply using this luxurious coffee thermos for tea. Cue choir of heavenly angels!

Crisis averted. Identity secure. Thanks for listening.


smallsight said...

I just found your blog via your comment on verhext and immediately felt an affinity with your between-cultures-ness, which you describe which much more humour than I could muster. Look forward to reading more! carly

Jenji said...

The bagel with mustard has me giggling aloud... and wondering if I should try some tea rather than my ever-present latte?

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