Tea And Coffee
from The Wisdom Of The Jumble Sale
© Jackie Hagan, 2009

When I was born they said:
"I bet she'll like coffee."
The right chromosomes you see,
and I cared not a jot,
happy with my breast milk.
I didn't understand why everyone
was so het up about hot drinks.

But time passes and I turned twelve,
started to look at mugs, china cups;
saw the tea my father chain-drank,
the coffee my mother savoured.
Figured either would do to douse my thirst.

Looked up with childish glee and saw tall faces:
"You will drink coffee,
you will admire coffee,
you will fall in love with coffee,
settle down with coffee,
you will serve coffee all your goddamn life."

Didn't think it was worth asking about tea.

So I did drink coffee.
I drank it by the gallon:
tried instant coffee against the back walls of clubs;
tried espresso, found it was over too soon;
tried filter coffee, who told me to lose weight;
tried latte which was just
too phlegmy.

Coffee was jittery,
didn't know where to put its hands,
thought it was something special if I at least enjoyed it.
Coffee was demanding:
I must wear make up and a dress;
requested I pluck my eyebrows,
moaned about my breasts.
Coffee wanted me to wank it off in the middle of the night.

Eventually I asked:
"It's alright this coffee, but have you got anything else?"
"Oh yes my dear, but it's not for you!
You like coffee, remember?
Coffee fulfils you completely."
Kinder ones replied:
"Maybe you just haven't had the right cup of coffee yet."

But coffee was fine, it did the job,
it was hot and wet
and I wasn't thirsty afterwards.

But that I'm told we mustn't do
becomes just that which we pursue
and I was surrounded
without censor
by sexy, curvy, sweet cups of tea,
slurped carelessly by boys and men.
"It's not for you!"
"But my father loved tea!"

I flirted relentlessly but knew I couldn't drink it.
(Didn't know why I couldn't drink it.)
Thought I'd really like to try it.
(Felt ashamed I'd like to try it.)
...Couldn't help but try to try it.

So, under the pretence of seeking a university degree
came to Manchester, in ravenous search for tea.

And tea leaks out Manchester's walls!
University life is filled with tea:
crusty, dreadlocked, herbal tea;
daddy, Prada, Earl Grey tea;
enthusiastic new found tea with asymmetric hair-dos.

There's tea meetings, shops and clubs.
There's even a tea drinkers' pub!

And tea took me, nourished me, let me be me,
in pyjamas, unshaven, unplucked.

Tea fucked me like tea does.

Didn't shriek at menstruation
or react with indignation when I wouldn't wank it off.
Didn't moan about my breasts, for tea had breasts too!
Went on a bit about goddesses
but tea knew where to put its hands
and I knew how to treat tea.

And what a surprise: tea was better at it then me!

But the world of tea it seems, is not itself without restriction,
for tea drinkers can't help but force the conviction
I must drink only tea,
when they found out I'd slurped
a cup of coffee that very morning.

They said coffee was against us,
said that coffee was the enemy,
all caffeine is rape,
and, with a exhausted sense of déjà vu,
I grew sick of this dichotomy of
just what it is I must not do.

And remember, that we must not do,
becomes just that which we pursue
and coffee leaks out Manchester's walls!

I learnt to avoid the phlegmy coffee,
the coffee that just wanted to watch me drink tea.
Found coffee that knew where to put its hands,
and coffee took me, nourished me, let me be me,
in pyjamas, unshaven, unplucked.

Coffee fucked me like coffee does.

But like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones
I mustn't admit to enjoying both,
and in a quandary lived a double life...
and slowly noticed the world was rife with those who
want their coffee and their tea;
drink one in public, the other secretively.
(The same who bawl with self-righteous anger
that I must choose.)

Weary of hypocrites,
for they protest too much,
I held up my head
and took a mug,
a tea bag,
and a spoonful of coffee,
and stirred
and stirred.
And didn't stop when they objected,
didn't stop when they rejected me
from tea drinking clubs.

And now, when I drink tea
they call me a tea drinker;
when I sup coffee,
a coffee drinker.

But they know I do both.

I drink tea,
I drink coffee.
Because they both whet my whistle.