Many, many moons ago, back when I was a teenager surveying the spring break possibilities that stretched out in front of me, I found myself wandering around Tijuana, Mexico on St. Patrick's Day. I don't remember much of the afternoon and evening, but I do recall this endless stream of green beer that was being offered by the bars to help celebrate the Irish holiday. I didn't like beer to begin with, green or not, but it was free for the ladies and we sort of stumbled from one bar to another until the entire night dissolved into some sort of bleary-eyed non-event.
I vaguely remember losing someone at some point, and then finding them again, a lucky break considering that this was well before the age of the ubiquitous cell phone. We limped back into San Diego by the grace of a miracle, and it remains the only St. Patrick's Day that I have any distinct memory of. Otherwise, the holiday seems like pretty much any other day to me. This is what happens when you don't have a single drop of Irish blood in you. I don't love corned beef and cabbage, I'm not a huge fan of whiskey and there are very few shades of green that I look good in, so I'm basically out of luck.
But I have, at the very least, graduated from green beer. T's mother's birthday was last week, so we celebrated by taking her out to Afternoon Tea at the St. Julien on St. Patrick's Day. The tea was not green. In fact, nothing on the 3-tiered tray was green with the exception of a few cucumber slices. That single vegetable aside, the tea service was a cascade of exquisite little goodies ranging from scones to lemon custards to crust-less egg salad sandwiches. Every single thing I put into my mouth was actually quite delicious, and had they not forgotten to give us clotted cream and jam for the scones (a rather serious offense in the grand scheme of traditional scone-eating), it would have been perfect. I love tea. Enough to name a blog after it. And I really love High Tea. I love getting to eat a dozen different bite-sized foods, sort of like the sugary carb-heavy version of ordering tapas. It's enough to send one into a diabetic coma, but I figure that going once every five years is worth the splurge.
I was first introduced to the concept of High Tea when I rendezvoused with my mother and aunt in Hong Kong back in 1999. We ate at the Peninsula Hotel, where tea-goers go to be seen, and I remember a sea of tables filled with delicate Asian women wearing flamboyant hats and lots of makeup and fine high-heeled shoes, picking at these trays of finger sandwiches like little birds. I was living out of a backpack at the time, slowly navigating my way around the planet over the course of a year, and I probably had four shirts to my name just then, three of which were t-shirts I'd been climbing in for the previous eight months. I stared in awe while I sipped tea from my Waterford teacup, marveling at this stock of woman with their gold jewelry and red lips. I remember being acutely aware of myself, where the adjustment from sleeping on a beach in Thailand to picking at finger foods served on fine china under neo-classical arches of a palatial hotel lobby almost proved to be too much. I've learned to bridge that gap more gracefully now, but I also happen to have a more suitable wardrobe. Goes to show that a good pair of heels never hurt anyone.
It's windy today, which makes my mind blow about in a million different directions. I've somehow managed to take us from Tijuana to Boulder to Hong Kong in one blog post, and I was going to add a paragraph about eating scones in Cape Town, which is where I learned about clotted cream and jam to begin with, but I'm all over the place and should just stop before everyone gets a readers version of jet lag. But to shift gears yet again, I'm so honored to be able to say that a modified version of Tea for Three has just won the OnSugar blogging competition. They posed a question every day for the month of February that you could use as a jump-off point for your blog post if you didn't have anything else that you wanted to write about, things like "If you won $1,000 today, what would you do with it?" or "If you could have a conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?". I posted some of the blogs on this site, but kept most of them under a new blog called Tea for Three that I started on OnSugar's (a division of the celebrity website Popsugar) blogging platform. I was thrilled to have won the month-long competition and will receive a new HP Envy 14 Spectre laptop for my efforts. Psyched! Moving forward, I will simul-publish what goes on this site to that site as well, so content will remain the same on either platform. It's such a rare joy to get paid for writing. Good thing I love writing enough to do it anyways, but it's safe to say that a new computer doesn't hurt.