Friday, July 20, 2007

Philosophy, Justification & Irony

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes ~ Oscar Wilde

This is the message on the little paper tag hanging over the side of my mug of tea today. It's Earl Grey tea, my latest favorite for the last 8 months or so. I love Oscar Wilde's writing, his mind worked in wonderful ways. I love tea, and I love thinking and drinking deeply at the same time.

This is a special mug of tea, however. There is a story regarding it's path to my mug. Fade to last night... a friend and I are sitting in a super fancy schmancy conference room near the top of a glitzy high rise hotel downtown at a 'fashion seminar' hosted by two ladies who write a column about fashion in the local paper. Both of these ladies review a list of fashion don'ts that pretty much encompass exactly what my friend and I are wearing. Of course.

My friend, Molly, is a near 6 foot blonde, and almost all legs carrying her enviable figure. She is fun, naughty, sexy and completely uninhibited. It is a favorite pastime of mine to watch other people watching her, women hate her on sight, and men are speechless. She is fabulous. She is what women should be. If it was the twenties, she would be a flapper. Oh wait...

Suffice it to say, she looks better than can be imagined, I don't look too bad either, and both of us are staring at these lady presenters wondering why they are showing us photos of Barbara Bush and Hilary Clinton and interrupting each other with warnings against wearing what we are wearing.

Molly looks at me and says, "This is supposed to be for us? My mother is too young to wear those styles!"

We've raided the dessert table and had coffee and tea already.

"Want to take off?" I ask.

"Yes, there's a bar at the top of another hotel down here that has a great view of the city, and I haven't been there yet. Let's go."

We take off and stop at the ladies room one floor up from the hotel lobby. While I am waiting for her, I see the door to the 'kitchen' is wide open. This is a catering kitchen used for conferences and meetings on this floor.
(STORY INTERRUPTION FOR EXPLANATION) I've developed a habit I'm not proud of, but a habit it is, nonetheless. I grab extra single packages of Earl Grey whenever I get the opportunity, and tuck them into my purse for those occasions when I want tea at a location where there is no Earl Grey. I come prepared.

While we were at the fashion thing, I kept eyeing the coffee/tea station with keen interest, thinking I could stock up the purse while I was there. At least a little. To my disappointment, there was a small gang of male wait staff and a male bartender that were hovering, hiding in that exact corner... watching the lecture with suspicion and uncertainty, and they weren't going to budge. I'd have had to make a blatant withdrawal of the tea packets in full view and that's just tacky.

So we are downstairs and I find myself waiting for Molly, and looking into this empty kitchen. It is the quintessential metaphor of entering the door of temptation, incarnate. I tentatively tiptoe in... look around, and then beeline to the huge boxes (2) of tea bags. YES! Having been denied the opportunity to filch upstairs, I capitalize on this chance... only to discover that there is one single solitary packet of Earl Grey tea. Not another one in sight. Well one is better than none, and I don't want any of the other flavors.

Molly comes waltzing in at this point. "What in the world are you doing?!"

"Stocking up, I couldn't get past the beverage patrol upstairs." I grumble.

"You can't do that! There are rules about this in the bible!" She is horrified. She is a full blown part-time Catholic, which means sinning is ok as long as you ask for forgiveness.

I smirk at her. "Molly, we just sat through that whole stupid fashion thing, and if I'd asked them for the tea, they'd have smiled and given it to me. It's one tea bag, this is a huge hotel, they aren't going to care." I feel quite justified. I can come up with more if I need to.

"Commandments!" she declares.

We walk down the stairs arguing the morality of this issue, and her shock at my pinch.

"I only ever take tea and pens, and the pens are by accident, usually." I point out defensively. "They have it there for people to take and enjoy!"

We round the corner, arguing still, and head toward the lobby, down a hall that is all glass windows on one side, except for two doors that are clearly labeled at eye level 'Emergency Exit, Alarm Will Sound if Opened'. She goes straight for them.

"Molly no! You can't go through..." she pushes the door open and a siren that is several decibels above deafening, screams this trespassing travesty to the world. I'm sure you heard it, wherever you are.

She walked right through it without flinching, and continued outside.

I walked down the hall and past the security guard who gave me a disgusted glare. I mumbled a quick apology and went out the front door. There's Molly, sauntering toward me with an unabashedly carefree and guilt free grin on her face. The (male) hotel staff that are huddled together about 15 feet away from her are grinning and waving.

"Don't you say another word about the tea." I said evenly.

She grinned, "It's so fabulous, all I have to do is smile." A tucked chin giggle, a flip of her hair and off she strolls down the street.

As I sit here, sipping my pinched tea, I contemplate Oscar's words... and I think to myself, what are mistakes, really... lessons? Things gone awry? Is it only a mistake to the one who got the shortest end of the deal? I like the term 'experience' better. It's all encompassing. It's accurate. It covers every perspective. It makes the guilt disappear immediately, and there's no confession involved.

Here's to a lifetime full of them... as I tip my mug, sip my tea, and savor the experience.

Scarlett (Viaggiatore was not there. He was off visiting Roary and the new twins).


Princess Banter said...

Well, if it makes you feel better, I do nick packets of sweeteners (EQUAL) whenever I could only because I hate going to coffee shops or restaurants that don't carry it. As you say, "I come prepared!" Haha!

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

I do feel a bit better... good company and all that, you know?


I'd like to remind all that I am the president of the Bubble Bandit Brigade, and as such I am a proponent of bending rules as long as they don't hurt anyone else.

Even the boy scouts believe in being prepared, so princess... pack away.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

sognatrice said...

Earl Grey is my favorite! I would've snagged some packets too. I can't say that I make a habit of it, but sometimes they're just asking for it--leaving all those temptations in full view (or in a deserted kitchen).

Jon M said...

Good anecdote! I played in a wedding band once and we were stuck in the kitchen waiting for all the speeches to finish. we were stood right next to the box of after dinner mints and chocolates...

Pearl said...

What an entertaining tea tale.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

I imagine friend Oscar was being his usual ironic self, but I've found that on the whole mistakes make really good lessons - which add up to experience :-)
Lovely "story", so enjoyed reading it!

Bobby said...

I would have gotten caught. I always get caught. Talking my way out of it would have been fun though.

Nice blog, I followed links to get here.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


I laughed out loud, when I read that Earl Grey is your favorite, I thought... of course it is! We are so similar, you and I.
Well... perhaps habit was the wrong word.
emm... no, it wasn't. It's a habit when the tea is available to the general public for people to take one (or 2) and that's usually when I get 4 or 5.
I never have more than that in my purse at one time. I don't get crazy with it, but I do plan ahead.
Isn't temptation lovely?


Mmmmm..... mints and chocolates....
couldn't be helped, of course.
You are completely justified, having been made to wait next to them. No one is expected to have will power like that.


Thanks for coming by! Glad it was entertaining for you.


Isn't Oscar just wonderful? So glad you enjoyed it.


Welcome! Talking ones way out of something is usually just a shade more thrilling than trying to get away with what you were doing to begin with!
Especially if you do get away with it!
Thanks very much.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

somepinkflowers said...

good for you!

i am guilty, guilty, guilty!

i PICK UP earl grey tea bags
when i travel, too.
i have them stashed everywhere
what happens it i run out?

thought i was the only one
posting about earl grey! LOL!

no matter how special
we think we are,
then are dozens more like us,
sneaking the EG T-bags...


L.M.Noonan said...

I know bugger all about North American history, but it seems to me that there was a spot of trouble some time back over the 'possession' of tea?
Will you never learn tea thief!
Having grown up half Catholic-half Muslim, I can tell you; guilt is a fabulous thing. You can write about it, make art about it, spice up your sex life...
As starving art students, we attended absolutely every boring event in order to eat and pinch everything not nailed down. I remember going to an 'all you can eat' affair with another starving artist and admiring the inner plastic bag she had cunningly manufactured for her capacious handbag. Into it went king prawns by the dozen, crabs, a lobster and I think even a couple of pieces of steak ( for her starving artist’s cat).
I'd never steal from someone needy or trying make an honest dollar, but a teabag from a hotel...pah you should have taken the box...nay the carton.

Pawlie Kokonuts said...

Q. Is it a sin if I am lusting after Molly, even if it is purely imaginary based on your lurid description?
A. Only if I'm not taking pleasure in it, but if I do take pleasure I must be procreating. (But I'm too old; so this is a real moral quandary.)

Vesper said...

Lovely story.

"Tea. Earl Grey. Hot."
I shall always remember Captain Piccard, of Star Trek the Next Generation fame, standing in front of the replicator, and asking for his tea.:-)
I love it too.

I take souvenirs of sugar from restaurants, etc. just for the fun of a (sort of) collection.

eastcoastdweller said...

We all have our weaknesses. Some of us borrow tea bags, others walk through emergency doors.

And yet, the world spins on.

apprentice said...

Hey beware, Walmart encourages its staff to nick pens, it saves them provding them and they save thousands of dollars a year to boot!

I like very strong navvy strength tea. There a class thing attached to tea too, if you put the milk in first it used to mean you had cheap stoneware cups, milk in last and you could afford bone china, which could take the heat of the undiluted tea. I prefer the former, a so I must be a true pleb.

exskindiver said...

great story.
where do i sign up for the bubble bandit brigade?

earl grey is my favorite tea-especially when sipped with chocolate in your mouth. my favorite.

myself i always seem to stock up on napkins.
where i am from, public bathrooms never had toilet paper.
so it became a habit to always "come prepared"
despite the roughness on one's was certainly better than nothing.

molly seems like a quirky and funny character.
i like wonder you are friends.
when is the next conference?
i am in. (hope they have soft napkins...)

The (Mis)Adventures of a Single City Chick said...

That is a hilarious story, Scarlett! If it makes you feel any better, whenever I'm staying in a hotel, I usually pack just about everything not nailed down. Okay, not towels or bibles, but all bathroom ammenities (I include a note with the tip each morning requesting extras and get them), and any leftover coffee/tea packet ammenities. I guess I figure I'm technically paying for them with how much hotels cost nowadays. :-)


Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Pink flowers,

You are quite special, you are in a group of wonderful readers and writers who pinch tea & sugar... does it get better than that?

Thanks very much for dropping by!


Yes, well as I am sure you know, history is always written by the victors... so how much is really truth, and how much is just good fiction? Tea thieves indeed.
Yes'm and glad to be one, look at the company I am in!

Guilt can be good, but many people use it for ill, and then it is not.

And, had there been more than one tea bag, I most certainly would have swiped that as well... such a shame there was only one. A carton would have lasted me a couple of weeks.


No, you're fine. Everyone lusts after Molly and she quite expects it. I think she was shocked once when she thought a gay theatre boy-friend of ours wasn't attracted to her, but he kissed her hand and swept her backward over his knee. looked into her eyes and told her otherwise.
She said, "Well that's more like it!"


Tea in space? Hmm... *big smiles* I may have to try that! If NASA ever gets around to public tours.
Think it would spill with no gravity?

East coast dweller,

I don't think of it as a weakness, I consider it a bonus... I just love EG tea.
Very glad you came by, thanks!


I'm a bit confused now, I always have cream in my EG, but sometimes (only once in a while) I put the cream in first. Most of the time, I put it in second... cos I love to see it swirl as it blends.

So... if I do both, then what does that make me?


Chocolate hmm? I'll definitely have to give that a try!

As for the Bubble Bandit Brigade, I will have to post about that next... it's a whole story unto itself, and there's only one way to join!

Molly is everything one could imagine. She is Irish Catholic, and can drink every male we know under the table. She is also a college history professor... and very, VERY smart. She likes to sit and watch the men/boys assume that she has no brain because of the way she looks... and then...
hee hee.
It's all sooo entertaining.
She's lots of fun to go out on the town with, and she enjoys everything about life, so it's never boring.

I hope everyone who reads this has a friend as good as she is.


The fact that you tip them justifies everything... all in one fell swoop.
Brava, sister, excellent.
Good to see you here.
I LOVED your travel stories!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore (he prefers cream without the tea).

Wilf said...

Funny post! When staying at hotels with my grandparents I used to post hotel stationery to myself and tell them they were long letters home - does that count?

colleen said...

That was a wonderfully told story! I felt like I was right there with you. As a tea lover, I totally understand, even with a bit of Catholicism in my DNA.

J at said...

Women like that make the world unfair for the rest of us mere mortals. (sighing in envy) More power to her, however! Wish I could see a picture of you in your fashion don't outfits, though. :)

Anonymous said...

She is a full blown part-time Catholic, which means sinning is ok as long as you ask for forgiveness.

This description of RC is so true. lol. And as for procuring Earl Grey for future emergency situations, why not? You don't overdo it and don't waste it, so enjoy your Earl Grey. There are bigger sins in this world.

MyUtopia said...

You can't go wrong with oscar or tea! I love STASH brand tea.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Dear Wilf,

Of course it counts! Usually, grown ups need therapists to tell them to get in touch with themselves, and there you are doing it already!
That's wonderful!


Thanks! Glad tea and religion have nothing to do with each other.


Well, in this case, it's perfectly fair because she's truly a very good, hard working girl. If she was shallow and stupid, then I'd share your opinion, probably. One less Paris Hilton in the world... but Molly's well worth her weight in gold.
No pictures... just comments... ha ha ha...


Thank you ma'am, it would appear I've been redeemed! Wonderful!


Isn't stash GREAT!!! I love the double bergamot! It's SO good!!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore