I have some photographs that seem to prove that once or twice, a birthday party was organized for me.
Nevertheless, I suspect that my guests were the offspring of some adults I didn’t know but that Julja did. Something like that.
Can’t say I know.
What I do know is that by the time I had reached the ripe old age of 6, it was apparently time for me to begin organizing my own gigs.
So I did.
Invited the whole grade one class.
Forty years later, I am a little weary and a little leery of this empty tradition. (“And now I raise a toast: Let us celebrate the birth of – um – me!”) Have a piece of cake that I made and please, drink some juice that I supply. Have you had some pizza yet? I hope you like the flavour of the pizza I purchased for you on my birthday.
It wears thin after a while.
Last night I was daydreaming about what would be nice. You know, instead.
I think I’ve got it.
How about tea with Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II?
We share the same date, after all: April 21st.
And this year, for a few hours I’ll be exactly half her age. I’ll be 45 and she’ll be 90. Then the clock will strike 5 o’clock something Ante Meridiem, Mountain Standard Time, and I’ll be 46.
That’s when I begin to catch up.
No longer will she be able to boast that she’s more than double my age. With each passing year, I’ll move myself more and more into her demographic. Before you know it, we’ll both be able to say that we’re senior citizens.
We can ride the bus together. We’ll each have a discounted senior-citizens bus pass. We’ll wear them with pride.
Pride in our age.
We’ll punch holes in our passes and we’ll string ribbons right through them. We’ll wear them on our necks so we don’t forget where we put them, and so that you don’t forget that we’ve earned them. Wait for us, young folk, we’re coming through. Get off of those seats, they belong to us folks. We were here first.
Yeah, actually, we were.
That’s what I’ll say to the young twirp who doesn’t budge when I arrive.
Hey boy, move along, sonny.
Her Royal Highness and I, we’re not all that interested in hanging on to these poles and doing the cha-cha right now. Do us a favour: move along. Go stand at the back or something. Take your itunes and boogie on down.
That’s more like it. We’d smile at each other. Look out the window. Maybe pull out the newspaper, just for a laugh.
Hey, I would say, have you heard? The conspiracy has finally been solved. Glad to see the driver’s been absolved. Glad to see the royal family’s been cleared.
But of course she’d already know.
She’s wiser than you’d know. God has blessed her with longevity for a reason, methinks.
Not that I know.
But anyway, back to me. Back to tea.
I have heard that every year, she does have tea with one person who shares the same date. It’s done by lottery, I think. I would qualify to enter, but what are the odds?
April 21, 1970.
April 21, 1926.
So I was thinking, there we are, having tea. Not coffee, of course.
I am not exactly sure how this would work. You see, tea has a ritual to it. It’s something you do kind of slowly, that much I know.
You certainly don’t drink it down hot off the stove scalding and burning 100 degrees. No. It’s not a race, not some twisted competition, after all.
It’s something done leisurely, spread out across minutes and enjoyed with some sweet treat, like crumpets or scones. Butter is almost certainly involved.
In my town, it seems the first step is to offer people their choice of flavour.
I have even bungled that.
Sometimes I have very few ‘normal’ teas on hand. I typically avoid the caffeinated teas and so I usually have just a very small selection of herbal ones.
How do you like the sound of that?
I remember one time, the only non-caffeinated teas that I had on hand were all medicinal. It was a little bit embarrassing. If I were the blushing type, I might have blushed.
What would you like? I’ve got Throat Coat, Breathe Easy, Echinacea, and Cold Formula. Oh, and here’s a uratonic tea.
Look what it says on the package – it sounds yummy: “Traditionally used in Herbal Medicine as a diuretic to achieve flushing of the urinary tract as an adjuvant in minor urinary complaints and as a urinary antiseptic to help relieve benign urinary tract infections.”
Mmm, good. I’ll take that with a buttered blueberry scone.
(Whoever did that write-up won the prize – the contest was to write a sentence using the word ‘urinary’ as many times as possible.)
And then there’s the issue of the spent tea-bag. I’ve never figured out how to deal with that thing. It’s soggy and it looks nothing like the crisp and promising thing that it was. There’s a metaphor in there that I won’t explore.
I don’t even want to look at it, never mind touch it.
It’s not that I’m squeamish, it’s just that I wonder, where does it go? Do you put it near the creamer? Do you leave it on your saucer, averting your eyes?
Hey look, your majesty, a bird!
(Meanwhile a servant swoops in and makes the offending tea-bags disappear.)
So I’ve decided I’m not a good candidate for tea with the queen.
(I don’t give up easily.)
Perhaps she could instruct. She could show how it’s done. I’d be ready to learn. Crash Course 101: Tea with the Queen. I’d invite my dad. He’d be all ears as well. And my brother, that’d be swell.
I think she might enjoy it.
Really, I think she might.
Who says she enjoys all the other one million and one boring things she’s already done? Who knows how it feels to be her? I wouldn’t trade places. No way.
But she didn’t have a choice; the crown was hers by a sad circumstance of Abdication by some uncle.
Normal childhood interrupted.
For shame. Duty-shunning uncle.
So I figure it would actually work out. Fun for her, fun for me. I wonder if she’d wear a hat. I don’t think she would, because it would be indoors. I could wear a pink toque but the weather doesn’t suit. Just balmy over here in my section of Mountain Standard Time. Unseasonably unusually remarkably nice. (I’d tell you why but you wouldn’t believe me.)
So anyway, it would have to be indoors at my place, not hers.
Her place, well, it’s over there.
And that would involve,