Last week my grandparents were visiting in what was their first trip to Seattle and my first bout of hosting family since the move. It was exciting! It was an adventure! It was…
Exhausting, actually. Juggling hosting/touristing while also being over employed and having hobbies is a challenge. So it was with somewhat obsessive, single-minded conviction that, on the Sunday of their visit, I dragged them to a bubble tea stand at a food court of the mall we were in to get me a fix of sugar water and tapioca. You know I was desperate because I just said I got bubble tea from a place where “Food Court” and “Mall” were accurate location descriptors. I have a long track record of ordering bubble tea in such places only to sigh and go, “I’d probably have been happier overall if I hadn’t.” Several times I’ve tossed the drink rather than finish it. This from me, the raging bubble tea addict.
You can also deduce that I was deep into the mode I encountered somewhat regular back in my coffee-serving days of needing the thing you’re ordering to be functional enough to order it. Not for myself; I have a default I can order when I’m beyond the point where I can figure out what I want. No, my problem was figuring out what to order for my room-mate, Dr. Unicorn.
Uni and I have a somewhat competitive relationship. It started with mix CDs, where we’d battle by trying to make mixes that would emotionally gut punch the other one the hardest. It has moved on to things like bed making wars, where we stealthily make the other one’s bed. And also a minor bubble tea war, where we’ll fetch tea for the other one. This latter one is my fault; Uni was innocently bringing me tea when it was convenient to as he came home from dates. I took it as a challenge and have been trying to keep the score even by similarly fetching tea.
I won the mix-tape war because I don’t have feelings and so you can’t emotionally gut-punch me. I lost the bed making war before it started because, unlike Uni, I never make my own bed. The bubble tea war is the tie breaker and while Uni’s wretched at keeping score, I’m not. I know: I’m losing this war.
So there was no way, even if I was in a Food Court, in a Mall, that I was going to pass up this opportunity to score a point. I was ordering Uni a tea, no arguments. What tea, though? This is where my need for a sugar-water fix reared its ugly head. I started with the obvious best choice, Uni’s favorite. But on reflection, that was a terrible idea since it’s a frozen slushie thing, and it would definitely not still be a frozen slushie thing by the time I got home. Maybe this other thing, then! No, that won’t work, because Uni’s not a fan of milk in tea and this place only does it with milk. Finally, I settled on what should have been my first choice: Peach tea with tapioca and no ice.
I do not tell Uni I’ve done this, because I think it’ll be a nice surprise. “I’ve got a present in the fridge for you,” I can say and then wham, I score a point in the war. Victory! Championship! The battle is mine even if the war is hopelessly lost. I contemplate this impending scene with much joy and expectation as the day wears on and the time for Uni to return home approaches.
The appointed hour arrives. I interrupt a conversation with my grandparents to check a text from my phone saying, “This is almost certainly Uni giving me an ETA.”
I read the text. Then I look up to my grandparents, who are giving me that, “Kids these days and their texting,” look. Then I read the message again. “Uhm,” I announce to the room. “We’ve got some messed up O. Henry shit going on in this house.”
The text from Uni: I stopped at [place] on my way home. Want me to bring you a tea? I’ve just had the peach tea and it was pretty good.
My answer, after careful consideration and once I stopped cackling? “Lavender milk tea, please.”