Two days ago I wrote a quicky about my mom’s visit. And I left out a few things because I had to race off to pick up Otto at school or wash my face or cry into a pillow sham. And, sometimes, I’d rather just post a short piece and feel like I have actually done something with my day and my life, instead of wallowing in a bathtub of self-loathing and rubber duckies. So, besides my mother reengineering my street urchin look during her stay, I wanted to mention all the other little things that she did for us that we greatly appreciated.
She spoiled David for his birthday by getting him an amazing North Face jacket to keep warm and organized when he shoots his movie. This nylon English muffin has more holes and pockets than the pool table from “The Accused.” By the way, a huge shout out to Georgia, for that brilliant, inspired and super cool idea of buying him a parka that holds everything from a monkey helper to a small chain saw, in case the natives get restless or an ingénue offers Dave a hand job for a few more lines of dialogue. That’s when the monkey will demonstrate all the tricks I have taught him and the ingénue will rip up her PETA membership card with her perfectly manicured hands and move back to Mississippi.
Mom also knit Dave a black wool beanie, which she furiously worked on at every spare moment. Every time my mother picked up her knitting needles, which occurred as often as she took in a breath, Dave said that he felt like the cell phone is the new knitting. Would that be implying that those 18th century trolls with their stinky petticoats and petrified wooden teeth, who knitted instead of freezing their fingers off without central heat or Hammacher Schlemmer battery powered hand warmers, were just as rude as the current crop of cell phone sluts? I dare say, “Nay!” And little did Mister Buzz Kill know that my mother’s hands were furiously looping together a hat for him to wear in the jungles of Georgia while his naked and desperate actors run for their lives from a serial killer with a great work ethic and mommy issues.
After calling Dave out by simply handing him his fabulous, finished birthday cap, she continued her parade of selflessness. She outfitted Otto in terrific new dinosaur and football pajamas and read him stories and babysat him while we had a romantic dinner out and car sex and took me to Ikea. Just kidding… I took her to Ikea. She cheerfully slept on the Aerobed without complaints and bought us lunches and dinners and trinkets and treats. It was a life saving visit from a woman who holds me together with every potholder she sews and every cross-stitch she stitches.
My one and only complaint, one that I feel is truly warranted, is the following. This woman, the lady who birthed me without complaints or restraints, brought a tea with her that smelled as close to human decay as a mortician’s garbage disposal. Sealed in one of her many Ziploc Baggies she carries with her, were half a dozen mysterious teas bags I had never heard of. She boiled the water, put the bag in one of my teacups and then poured, creating a steam that stunk of an open sewage system last enjoyed in fourteenth century Prussia.
The first time she steeped her tea bag of torture I immediately went to the trashcan, assuming David had left bloody meat wrappers in the trash overnight. He tends to do this after making his famous murderer’s meatballs and being a hypoglycemic carnivore, I am wary to complain. But the smell was so abhorrent that I was fully prepared to not only blame him for the smell but to tell him how I felt with operatic hand gestures and ear shattering high notes. I stuck my face in the can, smelling nothing besides an old banana and some dryer lint, a combination popular at indoor playgrounds and convalescent homes. The stench continued to grow stronger by the second and as I turned around to make sure Otto hadn’t shit in the middle of the kitchen, I spotted my mother cradling a cup in her hand. I walked over, took a big whiff and felt as if an Olympic shot putter had just pelted me in the face with a low-grade, manure-filled sweat sock.
I gagged backward and asked what the hell kind of witches brew she was drinking. With the confidence of a varsity cheerleader and the linguistic acumen of Kofi Annan, she said, “Lapsang Souchong.” What the hoo dong? I didn’t ask her for the name of the child laborer who fired my Ikea pasta bowls. And I certainly was not interested in the potent venereal disease found on the remote island of Nusa Lembongan, off the Bali coast. I simply wanted the stink to go bye-bye.
After a week of inhaling her Smog-In-A-Cup, I dropped her at the airport and blubbered like a bottle-fed infant in a breastfeeding circle. I drove home, sad that she was leaving but happy to not be walking in an apartment as fragrant and welcoming as a Port-A-Potty. A few days later, while writing about her visit, I realized I wanted to jot down the name of the tea in case I needed to fumigate for roaches or disguise my Meth-Lab fumes from the neighbors. I emailed her a short note asking for, “the name of your stinky tea.” In true librarian form, she immediately replied with the following email.
You want the name of the stinky tea so you can make fun of me? Lapsang Souchong.
A black tea, lapsang souchong has a rich colour. Lapsang souchong's flavour is strong and smoky, similar to the smell of a campfire or of Latakia pipe tobacco. The flavour of the pine smoke is meant to complement the natural taste of the black tea, but should not overwhelm it. Tea merchants marketing to westerners note that this variety of tea generally produces a strong reaction - with most online reviews extremely positive or strongly negative. Tea connoisseurs often note that Formosan lapsang souchong typically has a stronger flavour and aroma, the most extreme being tarry souchong (smoked, as the name implies, over burning pine tar).
Lapsang souchong imparts a smoky flavour to oven roasted ribs even when the oven is kept at a temperature low enough to achieve a tender roast. Because of this quality, Chinese chefs smoke a variety of foodstuffs over smoldering black tea.
I rest my case.