Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How Earl Grey Tea may have turned me into a Cougar (or a Leopard, or a Cheetah or another spotted cat)

The Earl of Grey seduced me away from my former lover. I had a tumultuous love affair with Coffee. Dark, exotic coffee had a Latin accent and always smelled delicious. I knew he was trouble but I couldn't get enough of him. I became addicted to him. When I was with Coffee, I sensed he always wanted more of me. It wasn't enough to spend a little time together in the morning. He was so needy, expecting me to drink him all in, wanting more and more of my time and attention. And Coffee didn't give me my own space. He crowded me. Everywhere I went, there he was. At the gas station. The supermarket. Even at the ice cream shop. I became so dependent on Coffee, I even took him with me for rides in the car. Concerned friends could see how Coffee was changing me -- I couldn't sleep, I was restless -- and they warned me to drop him cold turkey. I had to face facts: our relationship was dysfunctional.

When I finally summoned the strength to leave him, I was a mess. I cried for two weeks. My head felt as though someone took an ax to the center in an attempt to split my skull in half. I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning. But, gradually, I began to feel like myself again.

I could once again enjoy an afternoon gathering with friends or a night out at a restaurant without worrying about whether Coffee would ruin it. That was when The Earl of Grey first caught my eye.

Looking back now, I now see that I was still vulnerable. The Earl was my rebound. Smarting from the breakup with Coffee, I sat alone on cold mornings, couldn't join friends at Starbucks for a meeting. And then there was the Earl: polite, gentlemanly, patient. He didn't pursue me like Coffee did, waiting at every street corner. Earl was different. Earl Grey Tea was content for me to come to him in my own time, which I did.

And in a way, I grew to love the Earl. It was a comfortable relationship, not too demanding or intense. I genuinely liked him and the way he made me feel. We had a quiet understanding. He calmly sat with me on winter afternoons while I read or wrote, making no demands. Earl had a pleasant demeanor. He warmed me on chilly days but never made me feel guilty when I wasn't available. But now, in the sunny summer, I see the damage that Earl Grey Tea caused. With the rest of my skin tanned, I have tiny white speckles on my shoulders and chest. I look like a wild jungle cat. With the Earl sitting right by my side, I researched the white skin spots on the internet and discovered that the Oil of Bergamot that makes him so appealing can cause permanent skin damage.

That was the last I saw of Earl. It was much easier to say goodbye to him than to Coffee, and at least he took it like a gentleman.