Curb My Enthusiasm (for tea)


Every time I go into another person’s home, I get into an argument. Every time. And it’s always the same weird, boring debate I’ve been through a million times before. I’m never less than polite, despite what you may think from reading the reactionary filth on this blog. Here’s a typical example of such an argument, with the red text representing me, and the yellow the befuddled home owner greeting me upon my entrance.

“Do you want something to drink?”

“No, I’m fine, thanks.”

“What?” Here, there will be a brief period of disorientation, as though their reality has started to fold in on itself; the Mayans seeing the first Spanish ships on the horizon.“You don’t want a drink?”

“No, really, I’m fine. Thank you, though.”

“I can’t get you a cup of tea?”

“No, I don’t drink tea. And I’m fine anyway.”

“Ah,” as though a great, albeit incredibly strange mystery has been explained, “Shall I get you a coffee then?”

“No, I don’t drink coffee either. And as I’ve said, I’m fine.”

“You don’t drink tea or coffee?”

At this point, if there are other people there who already know me, the home owner will turn to these people, with an exasperated “He doesn’t drink tea or coffee?!” only to have my alibi confirmed. “Can I get you something else then? Juice? I’ve got some coke in the fridge. A glass of water…”

“No, I’m fine, really.”

Usually, this is the moment where there will be a strange and awkward silence. Hands on hips, they will survey the situation, mentally grasping for some other context in which a man in a house does not want a drink. Sometimes there is confusion, other times, a barely-hidden fuming at my rudely trampling all over the rules of social structure. I may decide to fill this silence with, honestly, more of an explanation than anyone deserves.

“I’m not really thirsty.” Either this will get tuts, and a blustering into the kitchen to make drinks for the normal, regular folks who just want a cup of tea because they aren’t a big weirdo, or a patronising “Cor, isn’t he fussy?”

Now, you might well be saying, “Well, it’s just hospitality, isn’t it? You’re in someone’s home, it’s rude not to accept what they offer.” That’s fine, to a degree. Their home, their rules. Some people like you to take your shoes off, or have strict No Smoking or No Wanking policies, to which I would of course adhere, but do I really have to sit there snuggling a perpetual conveyor belt of drinks? With tea or coffee, I can kind of see why that happens. Tea-drinkers always seem to have a cup on the go, because it’s little more than a habit; and because it’s hot, the act of sitting there, waiting for it to cool a little, gives your hands something to do.

To me, it’s just an incredibly arbitrary thing to try and force on someone. “Would you like your fluids replenishing?” That’s all it is. It’s like stepping into someone’s hallway and having them bellow into your face, “Hi! Come in, come in! Would you like a nap? Or a shit? How about a big shit? I’ve got a toilet upstairs? Are you sure you wouldn’t like to empty your arse right into it?”

I think this all stems from my, what people seem to find strange, drinking habits. Firstly, I don’t drink tea or coffee. I don’t know why I never got into it, but just the smell of both makes me retch, coffee especially. It’s hot, brown water! What are you people, animals?! But I never got into drinking alcohol either. When I was growing up, my peers were, honestly, pretty obnoxious pub-users, and my reaction to the parade of loutishness and really irritating “mate, I was so stoned, and here’s a great story about it…” drug use around me was to go the other way. Hence, I’m a jauntily-wristed puff what writes stories and that instead. Besides, I dread to think what kind of drunk I’d be. Probably the kind that would be on the news, standing on a really high balcony and crying.

Once you take tea, coffee and booze out of the equation, the notion of drinking as a social activity suddenly seems ridiculous. To me, drinking is not a hobby. If I want a drink, I’ll go into the kitchen, pour it, quaff it where I stand, then go back to what I was doing. If I’m thirsty, I will probably have a drink. If not, then no. I don’t keep eating when I’m not hungry. That’s how fat people are made. I don’t need to be cradling and supping from a mug constantly, like attending to a baby bird that’s fallen from the nest.

On a large number of occasions, I’ve actually had people, people who had previously dragged me through the drink rigmarole at their houses, start arguing with me in accusative tones when they saw me having a drink elsewhere. Once, by a man who caught me buying a can of Tango from a hospital vending machine.

“Hold on…you didn’t want a drink at my house once, and now you’re drinking!” as though I’ve wildly offended their hospitality and they’ve been storing the memory up, ready to spring it on me, like spying on a monk who took a vow of silence so they could shout “ha, busted!” when he cried out with pain at the death of a child. I don’t never drink, which what some people genuinely seem to have thought, peeping at me from bushes, and tapping my phone to see if they can catch the sound of me glugging some liquid. Probably.

This is how I see the rest of the world

10 PRINT "Ah, go on" 20 GOTO 10

So if I ever come to your home, let us avoid this whole sorry mess. If I’m thirsty, I will politely ask you if I may have a drink, but if I’m not, it’s not because I think your cups all taste of willy, it’s just because I don’t really want one.

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~ by Stuart on January 10, 2011.

4 Responses to “Curb My Enthusiasm (for tea)”

  1. For the record, this must be a singularly british problem, because if I’m offered a drink and turn it down, anybody I’m visiting here will think I know what I want and leave me to my drinklessness, assured that if I change my mind I know (not being INSANE) that the offer of a drink still stands.

    • Another reason to move to the US immediately.

      • Maybe it’s not dependent upon that, though. I also make it a point to only know and visit sensible, intelligent people in their homes. It really narrows the scope of ridiculous bullshit I have to deal with on a regular basis.

  2. Yeah, that wouldn’t help. It’s totally a national problem.Tea is just some weird security blanket.

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