And blooming tea balls
The other day I was sitting with my friend Ed in the kitchen when my phone dinged its little two-ding tone to let me know a text had come in.
"Goddamn it," said Ed. "I wish people would stop using that sound. "Sloop John B's" gonna be in my head for the next hour."
He was right. There, at the beginning of the Beach Boys’ version of the song, so brief and layered under other sounds that it's easy to miss it, is the text ding. I am no stranger to this awareness phenomenon. A few years back I had to give away a microwave because it ruined my day, every day, many times a day.
I like strong coffee with hot milk, and sugar. I basically like hot coffee ice cream.
I have a Nespresso machine. I heat milk in my mug before putting it under the Nespresso spout, unless it’s the afternoon and I can tolerate the floofiness of a frother routine. Usually, though, it’s just nuked milk.
For the amount of milk I like, and the wattage of the microwave, and the style of the microwave requiring so many buttons punched to accomplish the correct amount of heating, I’d put my milk in, close the door, and hit one-zero-zero-high-start. One minute on high, then start.
The problem was the tones of the buttons.
It was exactly the same tone1. Even the same rhythm, which was my fault but I couldn't seem to control that.
Every morning therefore started with me singing the worst song in the history of rock and roll. With gusto, because ear worms are for other people. I have ear morays, or maybe ear dragons, and they make themselves known with or without my consent, anywhere they please. In my case it means not only am I singing something I didn’t mean to sing, but I’m also singing something I didn’t mean to sing full throttle, anywhere. Like when I was a half-chorus into It’s Raining Men at a Magritte exhibit before I realized why people were staring.
My kids have always understood this affliction, if not appreciated it; when I break out in song Thing 1 nods and bobs his head in his natural stoner way, but Thing 2 groans and turns away. Neither one is free of it, however.
We were once standing with my friend Vic when we heard some nearby traffic.
“All the motorcycles…” said Vic.
“Oh oh OH, oh oh OH OH, oh OH, oh oh OH,” I sang before he could get any farther.
Thing 1’s hand went up in the Beyonce empty ring-finger hand movement, Thing 2 groaned and turned his back to me, but I could hear him under his breath join in.
“If you want it then you should have put a ring on it.”
All the single ladies.
All the motorcycles.
Same rhythm. No way to escape that one.
Vic just kept talking. He knew me pretty well.
It's possible I'm overly susceptible to this kind of thing. Before I had the Nespresso machine I had a Keurig. The coffee was bad and tasted like landfill plastic, as Keurig always does, but it was immediate, and so what’s a little BPA when you’re getting fast coffee?
I'd drop in the Keurig pod, clamp the handle down, hit the button, and listen to the deep tone and rattle of the coffeemaker's pump doing its job. That deep tone being precisely the key of "The Deutschlandlied." If I was on the phone, sometimes I'd have time to hang up, sometimes not before I'd let loose with a rousing version of, "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles..."
Not the trumpet parts. Just, you know, the, “what the hell are you singing” parts.
The Keurig had to go. I put it on the sidewalk with an, "IT WORKS" sign and within hours it had found a new home. Enter the Nespresso, the issue being that the amount of coffee and the stronger roast required more milk, heated for a longer amount of time in that microwave.
None of my sins in life had been bad enough to warrant the rest of my days immersed in Jefferson Starship. I pulled the microwave off the shelf, taped an, "IT WORKS" sign on it, and put it on the sidewalk on trash day. I walked to the car. The manager was probably going to be called, I knew, but I was not leaving Target with a new microwave until I'd heard the buttons.
As I drove away I saw someone stop their car, get out and pick up the machine. My foot came off the pedal slightly. Should I warn them? Was this wrong, like offering some unsuspecting stranger access to the appliance equivalent of The Ring video?
I let it go, unwilling to risk the sideways looks and possible arrest as I reached into a stranger's car while insisting, urgently, on explaining. Besides, maybe they heated things for more or less than one minute. It was out of my hands.
Which stuck another song in my head for a good week.
For it was no more my machine
I could deny it had ever been
For all I know it had been placed
Upon my trash at night
By strangers who took flight
And left the microWAVE
To be picked up by a simple twist of fate
Anyway, the new microwave sits on its shelf. It has a one minute button and so only requires one push to heat the milk. The Nespresso doesn't sound anything like "Fratelli d'Italia." I think we're good.
At the height of the pandemic my dishwasher died and I had to buy a much fancier one than I wanted to due to supply issues. It’s a Miele, and it opens its own door to allow remaining steam to vent out for the last 20 minutes of the cycle. It has one giant soap disc so you only have to replace that once a month or so and not add dishwasher soap every time, and it works really well.
It sings the beginning of We Wish You a Merry Christmas when it starts, and I really hate Christmas carols.
But I really like this dishwasher. So far it’s staying. It’s not like it’s playing Starship.
Blooming tea balls. Those three words together could be a band name, or a gentle, Mary Poppinsesque insult for the kiddies, but they are in fact a beverage item.
I’ve had many over the years, and they are usually relatively tasteless, but sometimes nice enough looking, at least until they devolve into vaguely elegant compost at the bottom of your teapot, but the aroma of the tea they result in is often wonderful.
This one by Teabloom is no exception: subtle-to-imaginary flavor unless steeped for hours, nice aroma. Labeled “Eternal Love,” I assume the name is a commentary on the ethereal nature of such a promise.
We all know that crafting is a mental illness, but since tea is curative of all things, maybe it evens out here. Teabloom offers a video on Youtube on how to make a dandelion tea blooming tea ball.
I am neither blond enough or mentally ill in that way enough to do this, but it’s there for the trying for those of you who qualify in these categories.
I’m aware that the lead vocal drops on “this” but the back vocal stays on the starting note, so don’t try to argue with my microwave.