Welp, it’s a problem

I knew it was a problem when I found myself storming across the kitchen, red-faced with rage, holding up a tiny paper packet like it was the head of a vanquished enemy. 

“Pumpkin spice?” I demanded. “I was told there would be roasted dandelion chai! This is unacceptable and I demand an explanation!” 

And there it was: my whole day ruined because of a misread label inside a cupboard I had never even opened until recently. 

I’m just going to put it out there, accepting responsibility and shame in one dreadful gulp. I’m sorry for the hurt and embarrassment this will undoubtedly inflict on friends and strangers alike. You expected more of me and I let you down. My shame is tremendous. 

I’ve started drinking tea. I’ve started drinking tea and it’s gotten so bad that the discovery of something like chamomile in the ingredients list can send me into a fury or an all-day depression. 


“Chamomile!” I will rage, pronouncing it cha-MO-mile because I’m kind of an idiot. “You expect me to drink something with cha-MO-mile in the middle of the day! Blast you, you KNOW cha-MO-mile makes me drowsy!” 

The weird thing is that there’s no one else in the kitchen when I’m throwing these tantrums, so I’m essentially complaining to the toaster oven. That’s the problem, you see. Tea makes me crazy, probably because of the super duper, extra powerful helpings of self-loathing that comes in each cup. 

Mind you, I don’t have anything against you tea drinkers. Don’t come storming my house with crumpets and honey sticks, your angry pinkies sticking out as you clutch your spoons in shaking fists. 

It’s just that I never expected to be one of you. Never would have even considered the idea that one day, I’d be a member of a tribe that embraces such weenie-sounding things as honey lemon, ginger, licorice, peach and whortleberry — which sounds to me like something Dr. Seuss would babble about when he’s been at the pipe too long.  

I’ve always been a coffee guy, you hear me? Coffee, piping hot and swilled from a greasy cup, half of it spilling down the front of me and leaving its proud stains all over the place. I regarded you tea drinkers as dainty relics from a softer, more dignified age — an age when nobody cusses, spits or expresses praise for the deliciousness of breakfast by belching.  

A quaint group, you tea lot. So regal and polite, with your elbows clear of the table and napkins placed so lovingly in your laps. And now I’m one of you, and it happened so fast I’m dazed by it — dazed and really angry that what I thought was roasted dandelion chai is actually pumpkin spice with cha-MO-mile, and only an uncouth lout would sip a calming concoction like that in the middle of the day.  


If I can offer one argument in my defense it’s that I started drinking tea mainly because I’m so attached to coffee that I pine for it at night when I can’t have it. In the hours before dusk, I’m still all about the java, and the more of it that drools down my shirt, the better. 

At night, the only suitable substitute would be single-malt Scotch, but that doesn’t treat me nice these days, so I had to just spend those evening hours without a cup of any kind in my hand, which is just intolerable. 

“Blech,” I grunted at my wife on that fateful evening. “It’s too late for coffee but I have a powerful hankering.” 

“Why don’t you have some tea?” she said all innocently, as though she WEREN’T stealing a quarter of my testosterone just by suggesting such a thing. 

And so I put one of those delicate little pouches into a cup, hooked that prissy little string over the edge and dumped in some hot water. 

“You might like a little bit of honey in it,” that traitorous wife said, and you could actually hear the sucking sounds as more of my testosterone vanished into space. 


I drank. God help me, I drank, and though I tried my hardest to keep it from happening, I could feel my pinky rising into the air as if to salute her majesty the queen. 

“Quite nice,” I remarked after that first sip. “Be a dear and get me a napkin, would you? I don’t wish to soil my trousers.” 

And now here I am, fussing over ingredients on a tea box like some pathetic extra from the cast of “Downton Abbey.”  

“Ah, this one sounds lovely,” I will remark to the toaster oven. “With spearmint, I’ll hardly taste the valerian, and a dash of honey to accent the chicory will be just delightful.” 

Of course, the toaster oven never says anything back. After years of maintaining a sturdy relationship built around coffee and bagels, the poor thing can barely stand to look at me. 

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