The cell phone rang. "Where are you?" Vivianne VonVoot inquired. It was then that we realized we were driving down US 1 from Sebastian. How long had we been in this eerie daze? We looked at our clock. 3:45 pm! Had Miss Vero been kidnapped or had the effects of our gin soaked brain finally taken it's toll?
No, not that lucky. We had been for a visit with that 150 year ole woman -
Dang. What can we tell y'all that y'all don't already know. It don't matter how old you are, your Moma's got a map to every one of your buttons and is a registered travel agent for guilt trips. Once we even witnessed our own 80 year old Grandmammy reduced to a quivering, chain smoking, martini swigin, cry baby, by something her nasty 150 year old Moma said to her (ornery meanness skips a generation in our family).
So there we were, havin our obligatory once in a blue moon luncheon with Moma, who thought it would be so lovely to go to a little tea room for the afternoon, "just us girls". Apparently, there used to be a tea room over on the beach that she liked, but it had closed, so she decided we should meet at the "Victorian Lady" in Sebastian.
We were greeted at the gate by the owner, The Crazy Happy Tea Lady, in full Victorian costume, who whisked us inside and proceeded to dress us up in feather boas and Sunday-go-to-meetin hats and then ushered us into a secret tea room filled with other folks, squirrelly eyed and wrinkled, yet sedated, already bejeweled for the ritual that was about to begin.
"Did you bring your camera?!"
"Did you bring your camera?!"
The Crazy Happy Tea Lady chirped. Yes, there were special instructions given to Moma when she made the reservation and she made us swear to bring the camera. And when we produced the camera, to assure The Crazy Happy Tea Lady that we did indeed follow the instructions, she confiscated our Cannon and began to snap away.
"Get closer, hold your tea cup, put your face closer to your Moma, that's it!"
As our teeth grit and a forced smile half emerged, Miss Vero's knee started to bump up against the table, "KILL ME NOW" in Morse code was subconsciously tapped out in a desperate plea, but it was too late we had entered -
THE TWILIGHT ZONE OF TEA TIME.
"Tea, more tea?"
The tea was suspiciously very good, the tea sandwiches were excellent. The Crazy Happy Tea Lady never let our cup empty.
"Tea, more tea?"
Strawberries, cream puffs, scones, delicious.
Tea, more tea?"
We were becoming a little more relaxed and subdued, with the familiar drone of Moma's chronic complaining voice. Her tales of acute hypochondria and other people's misery and misfortune echoing in ear, somewhere between tinnitus and madness.
Jumpin Ja-hey-zoos on a pogo stick! There must be somethin in the Dang tea!
"Tea, more tea?"
"Just exactly what kind of tea is this?" we inquired to The Crazy Happy Tea Lady.
She chirped some more and went over to ask the four horsemen of the RV park if they wanted more tea. By this point Miss Vero is sure we had entered the seventh circle of Hades and expected to see some sort of Beelza-bubba emerge in overalls, carryin a pitchfork and a silver serving tray with an invitation to dine at Bob Evan's for eternity.
"Creme Brule. Isn't that from Ireland, does that have liquor in it?" Moma asked.
Ohhhhhhhhhh, how we wished! And we were willing to sell our first born for it to be true, like that time Moma sold us to the carnival man just to teach us a lesson, yeah, that worked out so well.
After the tea, we were given a tour of the house, which by all accounts is lovely and was once owned by the Braddock family, who built it in 1908. Mr. Braddock died an untimely death being hit by a train. Official story is that he was reading and was so preoccupied that he failed to see the barreling twenty ton engine steaming and blasting it's horn until it was too late.
Real story? He was drunk. Now that makes sense.
The acre and a half is pretty and serene, decorated for weddings and garden parties. But the tour took 3 hours (a three hour tour... a three hour tour...), because two of the four old folks had walkers with bicycle horns and tennis balls for traction and a GPS system, that their grandchildren bought, but they still can't find the on switch so they glued a tissue box to it.
"More pictures, every one, all together, now just the two of you, now each one individually..."
Our body started to shake with the faintness of an early morning DT tremor and another soul entered our being. It was a leathery tanned, small Jewish woman from Miami Beach, who's tar and nicotined voice, raspy, but intimidating bellowed out to save us.
"Enough with the picture taking already!"
We think her name was Esther. She's welcome back anytime.
Minnie Pearlnecklace and her husband Heywood Yaspeakup have been married 93 years and brought along friends to the tearoom to celebrate and annoy us. One woman had the unmistakable aroma of internal decay and Jean Nate eau de toilet and the other had the impression that every minute detail of herself, her family and everyone she had ever met at the WalMart, was of interest to us. During one of her insightful memories of dating the entire high school marching band horn section (but not the percussionists, no, never the percussionists), The Crazy Happy Tea Lady looked over to Miss Vero and rolled her eyes.
At Last! We were transported back to momentary reality! The Crazy Happy Tea Lady wasn't so crazy afterall. In fact she was kind, spiritual and earnestly trying to live her dream of living in her Victorian House by the tracks and spreading joy through tea and not alkeehaul, lest someone gets too snockered and can't hear the train comin!
Yes, we did like The Crazy Happy Tea Lady afterall, for being so patient with the old folks, for dressing up in the silly costumes and for sharing her home. And then we realized, like always, this was all Moma's doing. She had put her evil voodoo spell on us once again. So we banished her back, back demon, back! Back down to her gated community and her pointless hours of afternoon card games! Begone!
Serioulsy, The Victorian Tea Room is fabulous and we encourage y'all to go. And as for Miss Vero, well, we pledged to go back to the Tea Room, only next time we're bringing our own friends (and a flask).