Virtual Tea Party!

I’m sitting at my desk, putting on my makeup.  Although I have three hours before the tea party begins, I don’t like rushing, especially on Sundays.  This time of social distancing has been hard on everyone, but I’m here to recommend the concept of virtual get-togethers.

While this time of social distancing can be stressful, here’s a good thing: if you want to do something with your little grandchildren virtually, you can do it in ways you wouldn’t do if they were with you in the flesh. For example, if you want to add a little extra flavor to your “tea” such as a splash (or two, or three!) of spiced rum, you can do that.  They will not notice that your breath burns their little nostrils as would be the case with an in-person event.  And probably you will feel slightly less silly when they remind you to hold out your pinky finger like a proper lady.  In fact, I’m sure that’s how all proper ladies made it through such silliness.  They spiked that tea!

Anyway, that’s how I’m going to get through it.  And can I drink iced tea, instead of hot tea? As in Long Island Iced Tea? That seems more appropriate as the spring weather starts acting as it should. And as it’s the weekend, after all.

When my daughters were little we used to have tea parties all the time. I never even thought of spiking my tea back then.  But my life was about different stuff then.  My oldest daughter took the role of  Ms. Jones during those tea parties; my younger daughter was Ms. Smith, only the older daughter couldn’t say Ms. Smith and instead called her sister “Smith Smith” during those dramas.  As the girls grew a little older, they began inviting their friends for the tea parties.  We never served tea, but instead served hot chocolate with marshmallows.

I could always tell the quality of home life our little guests had by observing their tea party behaviors. All of them would grab one of the stuffed animals from the toybox to place on their laps while they drank their tea; some of them would be loving toward those animals and some would be quite rough and short with the compliant, silent bunnies, bears, or chibbles.  One little girl would jump up from her chair every 2 or 3 minutes, stomp over to the telephone hanging on the kitchen wall and vociferously declare, “I’m calling my attorney!”

I feel certain the tea party this afternoon will be far more boring.  But as I mentioned earlier, I’ve got it covered. I’ve set the table on the patio with a new table cloth; I’ve watered the potted hydrangeas.  I’ve set out some old cups and saucers that belonged to my husband’s grandmother. I found a teapot to match. I’m about to go find hats for me and Rhonda.  Lord, I hope I have something that will look all southern and girlie.  I really don’t think my granddaughter will be impressed with a fishing hat or my rumpled old hat with the faded Corona Beer logo on it.  I have some nice crunchy gingersnaps I can lay out, but I’d better put out some salted nuts too, for good measure.

Rhonda, great sport that she is, has accepted the invitation to join us, and even J is planning to attend.  I don’t know if my son-in-law will be there, but it will be nice to see him and to learn how he manages to get through such a festive virtual event with family.  Separated by distance, we are still enjoying our family time, any way we can.

We Are the REAL Golden Girls!

The Real Golden Girls, Rhonda and Lanore
The Real Golden Girls-Rhonda and Lanore

Way back in the 80’s when the television show, The Golden Girls first aired, I fell in love with the idea of sharing a home with my best friend when we were older. Once our kids were raised and moved off into their own lives and spaces, Rhonda and I, friends since infancy, made time to do things together: vacation trips, campouts, sleepovers. We managed to get together for meaningful life events such as weddings, birthday parties, surgeries, and graduations. The idea of living together in our Golden Girls’ house was a pleasant, but distant, and mostly forgotten fantasy. I had probably never even mentioned it to my husband, J., but it must have still lived as a vague hope somewhere in the back of my mind.

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and Rhonda was one of the people who lost her job as a result of the damage left by the hurricane. She searched for over a year but could find nothing close enough to home to allow her to work. In the meantime, J. and I were scouting for a new home a hundred miles to the north. We were determined it would have sufficient room for family and friends and it had to have a room for us to continue practicing our dancing. We finally found a five-bedroom home with three full baths and a den that could be used for a dance room. We closed on the house before the end of 2017. In the meantime, Rhonda was draining her savings without a paycheck and after no job prospects for over a year, she feared she would eventually lose her home.

It began to dawn on me there was a clear solution but I would have to talk to J. He was onboard with the idea that was a dream come true for me.

Still, Rhonda had lived independently for years and was uneasy about moving in with me and J. It’s understandable. It’s always a risk to live with someone else–until you’ve tried it, you don’t know how it’s going to work out. You don’t know if you’re going to get on each other’s last nerve or if one is too noisy for the other, has too much laundry or body odor or bad language or religion. Being friends is one thing. Living together is another. And there wasn’t just one person to consider how she might tolerate. There was my husband J as well. I’m sure each of us had similar concerns because there were so many unknowns. This had just not been done by any of us before. It was a risk. But we hashed over the parts that might have given us trouble beforehand. We all agreed on the particulars and Rhonda moved in the following May.

As it turned out, it was a wonderful arrangement for all of us. For me, it is fabulous living with my best friend, knowing she has my back, no matter what. For J, he has two cooks and two housekeepers and a room he can escape to if we become more than he can tolerate. For Rhonda, she has her own suite on one side of the house while J and I live mostly on the other side of the house. We all share the kitchen, dining and patio areas. For some reason, Rhonda seldom ventures into the living room. Well, neither do I, for that matter. We all enjoy our time on the patio and working in the yard and we all enjoy our time alone. We all have jobs, we all pick up behind ourselves, and we all eat very different diets–so we all cook. Rhonda helps me keep up with the house and laundry. She’s a godsend for laundry, I tell ya. She also has pretty much taken over feeding our 2 dogs and cats. In fact, the dogs have each gained four and a half pounds since she has been here. We have regular discussions about that.

And regular discussions about anything that is on our minds is part of what it takes to make it all work. We are a very lucky trio. I’m sure our setup wouldn’t work for everyone. It helps that Rhonda and I have been friends since we were born and that Rhonda has been a friend to my husband, J. since he and I became a couple. In fact, we got married in Rhonda’s house. I stood my husband up for our first date so I could be there at the birth of Rhonda’s son. So ours is a longterm, time-tested relationship. It’s a friendship that is precious to all of us and one we do not take for granted. That fact helps us to be considerate and respectful of one another no matter how different our personalities may be. I believe it’s the secret that makes it all work so beautifully.

It would seem natural, even likely that we have our trials in living together as we do. But I have to say, not really. It’s pretty much been one joy after another. I hope we can stay like this forever.