Sunday, May 6, 2018

Monologue Mania Day # 1542 Sweet Tea (from The Book of Teas) by Janet S. Tiger (c) May 7, 2018

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Monologue Mania Day # 1542  Sweet Tea (from The Book of Teas)  by Janet S. Tiger (c) May 7, 2018       
From THE BOOK OF TEAS - for other monologues, please see Day # 15, 51, 52, 53, 69, 84, 96, 105, 118, 156, 173, 175-8,181, 184-5, 269
                                                Sweet Tea (from The Book of Teas)
                                                    by Janet S. Tiger
                                             © 2014 all rights reserved

            (The same older Southern woman from The Book of Teas – Day # 15, 51, 52, 53, 69)

Why do I keep comin back to sweets?  I guess I think everyone likes the taste of sweet.  We sure love sweet here in the South, don’t we, Ella?  Forget about cotton, sugar is king!  We have sweetbreads, sweet tea…..and once you get old enough to forget everyone’s name, you call people……sweetie…….
Babies love sweet – mother’s milk is sweet.  Life is sweet.
Candy store.  When you are young, the world is like one big candy store.  There are all these sparkly packages, with the lights of the shop making them twinkle just for you.

Which one will you eat first?  Can you eat them all?  Sadly, you find you cannot.
This is not before you get cavities.

But once you try a few of those sweets, you eat the ones you like, like the petit fours.  Maybe you try something new once in a blue moon.  But usually, you stick with the sweet you liked when you were testing them all out.
And then one day, you realize that you have not tried all those delicious confections, and you are a diabetic, and eating them will kill you - or at the very least, make you blind and have your feet fall off.
It is a horrible day when you come to that realization. 
But the memory of the sweets you loved is something that you hold with you until you can no longer remember your own name.  Goodnight…..sweetie…..

            (She lies down on the bed as the lights dim.)


(As background – this is the section that precedes this monologue – with Ella’s dialogue removed)

Petit Fours-

A life without love is like a life without Petit-fours.

My mother taught me this.

I know I am stretching with Pet Tea Fours - but I think it is a big part of life here in the South.


Almost everything is evaluated by food.

My mother taught me this with the example of the petit-fours.

She was telling me why - 
unlike all the books I had read- love never could end well.

I was horrified!

She laughed and said the books were designed to ensure that women married and had children - because if people knew the truth about love the race was doomed.

Love had only one end - separation from the one you loved.

That separation could be due to many things - war, famine, pestilence - or  you now hated them and tried to get away from the one you used to love.  But, according to my mother,  you could never get away from love,  love was a form of infinity.  It never ended.  But the person could go away, or marry someone else - or, at the ultimate, die.

Mamma, that makes no sense.  How can love be infinite, but it ends in separation?  Because that is where the endless pain comes from - there is pain in breaking apart - one way or another, it's like a bone breaking, there is no pleasant sensation in a broken love.

But then why love? 

She smiled and explained, using something I was very familiar with - petit-fours from the ice cream shop.  Specifically, the ones made by Monsieur de Tour, who had come to our town after World War 1 to marry a nurse he had met when he was wounded.  He had no skills other than being a soldier - but he was also the son of a baker, and although he had never wanted to follow in his father's powdery footsteps, in the new country, with very little English, he was forced to fall back upon a universally appreciated talent - food preparation.

He could make delicious treats - and the ones that cost the most, and were therefore the most delicious, were the petit-fours.

He would prepare them in the visible kitchen at the candy shop, which also sold ice cream, licorice, all types of assorted magazines, and sweets from all corners of the world.

All my friends would debate for hours which was the most delicious of these sweets.  The gumballs that broke your jaw and lasted for hours  - only one penny for a handful.  Chewy caramels - a bag for a nickel - that stuck to your teeth for weeks, allowing the sugary flavor to provide a diversion in the dullest of classroom discussions.

The hot fudge sundae - gooey, dripping with warmed fudge and covered in nuts. topped with whipped cream for only 25cents.  Or the 10 cent sodas with a scoop of ice cream - bubbles tickling your nose and the delightful sounds of the last sucked up sip where parents tried to control their children from making that sucking noise, but never succeeded.

But for me, there was no contest.  It was the horribly expensive petit fours.  When you could buy pounds of candy for 50cents, just one petit fours was 75 cents each!  The horror!  Yet people lined up for them, and they always sold out whenever M. de Tour made them each Saturday, 24 total, two dozen.  It took him most of the afternoon to make these.  One dozen was set aside for the Balleys - the richest family in town, who ordered a dozen every week for their Sunday after church get together.  If my father and Mr. Balley had not had such squabbles on the City Council (Mr. Balley was the main opposition to daddy for Mayor, but luckily, most people preferred Daddy) we might have been invited for these sumptuous get togethers.  But no, although my Daddy had been a man of few principles before marrying my mother, her influence on him from the very beginning had created a monster of propriety, and Daddy refused to reconcile with the Balleys.  Hence, I got one petit four a week.  Although money was no object for us, my father did not believe in spoiling children as he had not been spoiled and he figured what was good enough for him was good enough for his progeny.

So I suffered with the one petit four for years.  Like a ray of delightful sun on a rainy day, I looked forward to those Petit fours.  And then, one year, I got the brilliant idea to save my birthday and Christmas money - and buy as many petit fours as I could.

I told no one of my plans - usually I spent my gifts immediately on the first toy I liked.  But the year I was 10, I waited, and when I had the massive sum of seven whole dollars and fifty cents, I went to wait in line on Saturday for, believe it or not, ten whole petit fours all for myself.

Half the delight of anything is the anticipation - and that day was no disappointment.  M. de Tour was diligent as he mixed the ingredients-which were mostly sugar, confectioners sugar, glazed sugar and more sugar.
I could go on and on about how he made them, but you can look up the recipe yourself.  The important thing is that, as I waited, the line formed behind me, waiting until everything was baked, fluffed, dried and ready to purchase.  It is a time consuming confection - but worth every second.

When he finally brought them to the counter and took out the traditional one petit four I usually got, I told him, no, please may I have ten - I have the money.  And I showed him my savings.

The people behind me were furious!  They had waited for awhile - some of them as long as an hour, although none as long as I had, so I really didn't care.

He looked at me and said, 'Oh, aire you heving a party?' in his still thick accent.

I nodded, not wanting to lie - as I was planning a party, a party for me.

You might think I lingered over them, appreciated them, ate them slowly, savored them after that long wait.  But that would be someone else's story, not mine.  I sucked them in like a vacuum.  And it was wonderful.  

I still smile when I think of it.

I was not used to eating sweets like that, however, and the results were evident within hours.  As I threw all those beautiful petit fours up, my mother held my hair back and laughed.

So later when she told me love was worth it, I understood immediately when she compared love to the petit fours.

'Do you remember what it felt like to eat them after wanting them for so long?'
'Oh, yes, momma, they were delicious beyond compare!'

‘And yet by the end of the day, you were wretched - and retching, if I recall properly.’

She recalled properly.

But I knew what she meant- love was worth it.  Even if you knew there would be pain, it was still worth it.

Like the petit fours.    Incredibly sweet, but best taken in controlled doses.  

How would I have known that too much would be messy?  Same with love, we know.  We know before we start, but the taste is so good, that we jump right in - and we have no regrets.

When I was feeling less sick, and my mother had washed my face and put me to bed with a cool cloth on my forehead, she smiled and said, 'was it worth it, T?'

And I laughed with her - because, yes, it was.  And it always is.  And people who do not get their 10 petit fours even once in their lifetime, well, they have never really lived.

First posted - May 7, 2014 Day #84   

Note: A few words about 'free' -  all these monologues are protected under copyright law and are free to read, free to perform and video as long as no money is charged. Once you charge admission or a donation, or include my work in an anthology, you need to contact me for royalty 

Janet S. Tiger    858-736-6315      
Member Dramatists Guild since 1983


Swedenborg Hall 2006-8

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