Those Tea Party Pinkies
I couldn’t wait for Social Studies to end. Just my luck that I had gotten Ms. Bradley for the year. Dang, that woman droned on and on. She last updated her wardrobe in, like, the nineties or something, and she had that big long chin hair that she wouldn’t pluck for some reason. Hannah said that one day, she was going to bring tweezers to class and just go up there and yank that thing out, but I told her that was crazy. The school resource officer would probably arrest Hannah for assault or something, and there I’d be, having to visit my best friend in juvie.
To earn extra credit for the year, Hannah and I signed up for community service projects and volunteered to work with the historical society like we did last year. I had figured it would just be a bunch of boring old people sitting around talking about the Civil War, but it wasn’t like that at all—not unless somebody just wanted to talk about the Civil War.
That was also how I met Claire Wilson, their party person. Her official title was something like “Community Outreach Coordinator,” but I worked with her last summer and got the scoop. I found out she loved to party, and she wanted to invite me to all their parties—or “community outreach” events—but she said they always had a lot of booze flowing, and it freaked out the grown-ups to have teenagers around. Like we didn’t know they liked their beer and wine. Duh.
But that afternoon, Miss Claire wanted me and Hannah to help with an afternoon tea for some girls in the after-school program at one of the elementary schools. Hannah told Ms. Bradley we needed to leave class early to help with the tea. She explained that we would be teaching the girls about Victorian tea etiquette. Brianna Simpson heard that and started saying “Fiddle dee dee” over and over, like we were going to Gone With the Wind tryouts. Idiot. She probably didn’t even know that the Victorian period lasted until 1901, and she probably thought Queen Victoria was a rapper. But I didn’t want to waste time thinking about stupid old Brianna Simpson.
Hannah said Brianna was jealous because Joshua Taylor sat by me at lunch today. I told Hannah that was ridiculous. Joshua had lived down the street from me all my life, and our parents were best friends. I hoped he didn’t get mixed up with a skank like Brianna, but I wouldn’t judge him even if he did. If he wanted to go with someone like her, why should I care?
When Hannah and I got to the historical society, the first thing we did was get dressed in some hoopskirts and gowns that Miss Claire had ready for us. I got the pink one, and Hannah wore the blue one. We wore big old gaudy hats, too. Little girls loved those.
Ten girls were at the tea party, and we decided Hannah would go first and give them a few etiquette tips. Since Hannah had two older sisters and never got to be the boss, I didn’t mind if she got more speaking time than I did. I just had one bratty little brother, and I generally got along with him, except when he kept adding new games to my iPad without asking.
As Miss Claire and the other volunteers brought out the tea trays, Hannah told the girls they were supposed to eat sandwiches first, then scones, then sweets. One little girl was already nibbling on a chocolate-covered strawberry, but Hannah and I just grinned at each other. We knew it was bad etiquette to make your guests feel bad when they messed up.
When it was my turn, I told the girls not to hold their teacups with their pinkies up. Somebody was always telling little girls to drink tea with their pinkies up, and it drove me crazy. Why did people do that? One little girl said that was a relief because her pinkie was already tired.
Once the tea was over, I texted my mom to come pick us up, and Hannah and I changed into jeans and T-shirts. As we dressed in the bathroom, someone knocked. It was Miss Claire asking us to stop by her office before we left.
When we got there, Miss Claire had two navy blue gift bags on her desk.
“These are for you, Megan and Hannah,” she said, handing one to Hannah and one to me. “Just a small thank-you for helping with the kids in the after-school program this afternoon. You girls are such a big help around here.”
Hannah and I were beaming. It was nice to be appreciated.
My cell phone pinged to let me know I had a text. It was my mom telling me she’d pulled up out front.
“Mom’s here, so we’ve gotta run. Thank you,” I said, holding up my bag as I left.
“Yeah, thanks, Miss Claire,” Hannah said.
We dropped Hannah off at her mom’s gift shop downtown, and then Mom dropped me by the house before going to buy groceries. I’d had a few cucumber sandwiches and some Earl Grey at the tea party, but I was still hungry. While I warmed up leftover pizza, I opened my gift.
Underneath the layers of dark blue tissue was a white box. I wasn’t surprised to open the box and see a cool teacup and saucer inside. Lavender was my favorite color, and the teacup had pink and lavender flowers on it.
My mom was a big tea drinker, so I got one of her tea bags and made a cup of Darjeeling to go with my pizza.
Stupid old Brianna Simpson probably didn’t even know how to hold a teacup. And if she ever asked me about it, I was definitely going to tell her how important it was to always hold her pinkie up. Always. Ha!