Steam rose from the spout of the antique china teapot and dissipated into the stuffy air of the packed apartment.
These tea dates weren’t the most enjoyable, but every three weeks, James Sullivan supplemented his frequent phone calls to his mother with actual visits. During these visits he often marveled at how they could be related, and reminded himself of the importance of honoring his mother and his quest for a long, full life.
“This is regular tea, right,” James asked his mother.
Her face brightened with a mischievous look in her eyes.
“Yes James, it’s regular tea with regular hot water… Don’t you trust me,” she asked innocently.
He poured himself a cup, wondering how to phrase the truth.
“Mom, I trust you,” he said, gingerly. “It’s just that we think differently about things and I just want to make sure you’re not involving me in things I don’t agree with. I like to know what’s going on.”
She calmly poured black tea into a small pink china cup.
“Well, in an effort to keep you updated,” she said, before taking a sip of her tea, “I was talking to my friend Marjorie and set up a blind date with you and her daughter.”
She took note of her son’s response and stood up quickly.
“Oh, I forgot the cookies, where is my mind,”she said, leaving the table to avoid glaring looks.
Instead of cookies she came back with a small silver box.
James knew that box too well. His mother had used it for the last 25 years to try and tell the future. He downed his scalding tea from the small cup and stood.
“Okay, mom I have to go,” he said, grabbing his coat from the back of his chair. “I love you and I’ll call you in a couple days.”
“Now just wait, James,” she said firmly. “From what I’ve heard, Sam sounds like a perfect match for you.”
“Mom?! I told you last time, I don’t want any more blind dates.”
His mother held up her hand.
“She’s Marjorie’s little girl, apparently she’s just like you and,” she inched closer, “I checked the calendar and today’s an auspicious day, so she might be the one. I can read and see.”
His mother’s eyes gleamed with excitement.
“My last pick wasn’t that great,” she admitted, “but honey I don’t want you to be alone, you’re so wonderful. And you’re 35–”
“Mom, I’m fine,” he reassured her.
She wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“James, you’ll like this one,”she said, coming around the table and grabbing his chin to shake it the way she used to when he was 7, only now he hovered over her.
James kissed his mother’s forehead and hugged her goodbye.
“I love you, mom.”
As he was leaving, she thought about telling him that she’d arranged his first date for that evening, but decided against it.
“I love you too, James.”
The entire day James regretted not being more firm with his mother, but his regret was overshadowed by an uneasy feeling. He brushed it aside, attributing it to paranoia.
Later that evening, James prepped a small study room for his weekly tutoring session. He was lost in thought, completely oblivious to the fact that he was being observed.
The light clearing of a throat caught his attention.
He did a double take at the petite red head with wild curly hair and the huge smile standing near the door.
“Sorry to startle you,” she said, with a slight laugh.
“You didn’t,” he said, feeling unnerved.
“Riiight…I’m Sam.” She moved closer and extended her hand. “Apparently our mothers set us up for tonight after your class, which I’m thinking has got to be awkward for both of us, but you know what they say about honoring your parents and long life, so…”
James nodded, a smile crossing his face.
“Yeah… actually I do.”
*This post was inspired by Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, because they updated their webpage first.