Dear Reader, I just attended the social bush event of the Winter Season.
My invitation came personally from Lady A. Darden, one of the hostesses of the elite event. The occasion was, in fact, so elite that I was the only one invited.
Twelve-year-old A. Darden has been on an extended visit at the next floathouse over from mine (my parents' house) and she had the inspired idea of having my mom put on a "Bush Tea Party." This was probably a result of her getting hooked on one of my mom's favorite shows, "Downton Abbey," which they've been binge watching together; that is, when A. isn't watching "Gilligan's Island."
On the menu was pumpkin pie with whipped cream, tiny cheese sandwiches--the crusts fastidiously removed--green olives, chocolate chip cookies delicately removed from the mass packaging bag they came in, banana slices, carrot sticks, and a variety of teas to choose from.
Here are some juicy snippets of conversation from this exclusive social gathering:
"So, where do you stand, Lady Darden, on the subject of keeping the village hospital or moving the patients to a larger city hospital?" my mom asked as she sipped her tea, pinky finger elegantly elevated. Apparently that was where they were at in their binge-watching of Downton Abbey.
"They need to keep the village hospital," A. said, decisively slicing into her pumpkin pie. "It's closer, they need a small hospital in the village, and the doctors know the people."
"It appears that you side with the Dowager," my mom noted.
My dad wandered by on his way out the front door. "And here," I said (as official tea party chronicler), "we have an exile from the Bush Tea Party, a veritable barbarian. We should ask him to join us. Oh. He's giving me a death glare, so perhaps not."
"It's a Tea Party Death Glare," he corrected, and carried on about his barbarous way.
From there we discussed the sad news that Jerry Van Dyke had died. "He turned down a starring role in Gilligan's Island," I said, knowing that Lady Darden would find this Important News. We tried to figure out which role he would have played and finally decided that because he'd been typecast early on as not overly bright, or at least naive, it would have been Gilligan himself.
"Gilligan," Lady Darden explained dryly, "isn't as smart as he thinks he is."
Her other favorite show is "I Love Lucy" and she was excited that the ladies of Downton Abbey were going to be visiting New York City where Lucy lived. "They better be prepared," she said darkly, having no illusions about the kind of manic madness that Lucy managed to inject into every occasion.
My mom and I had to break it to her that the ladies lived in different eras. We tried to figure out the time difference between Lucy and the Downtonians as we finished off the tea. A little math in the proceedings was fitting since this was the time of day when I'd agreed to tutor A. in her math homework. I'd even suggested that we make it a "Math Tea Party." I received a death glare in return. (They're fairly common in the long dark winter days of the Alaskan bush.)
As we were discoursing in this vein, Lady A. Darden managed to sneakily separate the cheese from the sandwiches, leaving the little squares of bread still tooth-picked together and apparently unmolested to the unsuspicious, benign eye.
Apropos of nothing whatsoever, Lady Darden volunteered that if she ever wrote a book it would be titled: The Mystery of Who Stole the Cheese.
Alas, the tea party came to its conclusion, as all good things must. But it's an occasion that will be talked about in local gatherings to brighten the many dark winter days still to come.
Tara Neilson (ADOW)