The Tea Party

Every year when the weather gets warm, I make myself promises.

I will go outside more this year. I will plant more flowers. I will take advantage of what the city has to offer.
I fail miserably every time. I proclaim it’s too hot-humid-rainy-cloudy-or-you-name-it to go outside. The few flowers in the front yard shrivel from neglect and slug damage. And the city? I don’t see any more of it than I did the year before.
This year, I decided to do better. I’ve made no promises other than I will honor the inspiration to enjoy the season when it comes. So far, that’s meant a trip to the zoo, where I purchased a one-year membership, and a Sunday tea party in the park.
My cousin, who was on the event’s planning committee, said this was a chance for little girls to put on frilly dresses and drink apple juice from tea cups. It was indoors, so that was right up my alley, and it was for a good cause. The proceeds were for the park’s upkeep. This year’s theme was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
When E and I arrived, we followed a path of cardboard circles painted to look like lollypops and peppermints to a room swimming in polka-dotted balloons and multicolored tablecloths. There was candy as far as the eye could see.
E ate two candy rings, two chocolate-covered marshmallows, and three Hershey’s kisses in the blink of an eye. Just as she was feeling the effects of her sugar intake, the hostess announced a scavenger hunt.
We went to the registration table for an instruction sheet. The woman explained that we were to find 20 golden tickets, read the question on the back of each ticket, and mark the answers on our sheet.
“There are 10 tickets in this building and 10 tickets outside,” she said.
“Did you say outside?” I asked as I squinted at the yellow piece of paper. I looked out the window at a passerby in a tank top and shorts. It was 86 degrees.
“Oh yes,” she smiled. “They are in the garden out back and in the front yard, but there won’t be any across the street.”
It took us an hour to find 19 tickets. We wandered the yard in circles, taking a brief detour to the parking lot so I could change out of my four inch heels, which kept sinking into the ground. I couldn’t do anything about the wind blowing up my dress. I hope no one was offended.
I was sweaty and tired when we returned to the tea room to hear the winners. We took second place, which earned E a princess PEZ dispenser.
It was a good day, even though my daughter ate way too much candy and cried because I wouldn’t let her have a cupcake. I convinced the wait staff to find a roll of paper towels so I could wrap one up and take it home. She ate it today.
I’m not sure if this is the end of my outdoor adventures or just the beginning. The only thing I do know is that if I plant anymore flowers, I’m putting out some Sluggo first.

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