The tea that broke the relationship’s back

A cup of tea can ruin a relationship.

That’s what I chose to believe. Before I left for Grand Forks, I was in a relationship with a girl in Lethbridge and everything seemed to be going well.

We had been going out a long time and agreed on most things but when it came to boiling water for tea, we had our biggest disagreements.

The problem exactly was an age-old one.

One that had probably been argued 10,000 years ago by two cavemen at a campfire.

Was it better to boil a little bit of water faster, or a lot of water and wait a bit longer?

I’m for the longer solution. I believe this was passed down to me from my Swiss mother.

You see, in Switzerland, neighbours are always stopping by, mostly unexpectedly. The visitors have to be offered tea (a tradition) so always having a full pot on the go seems like common sense to me.

From my roots, to be caught with no water on the boil would be an embarrassment.

To me, tea is something to be taken in a social setting; I can’t enjoy tea alone. I just fall asleep.

On the other hand, my ex-girlfriend believed the opposite. For her tea is a solitary experience.

In the way that I equate tea to a head-to-head in chess or the socializing of a game of poker, she looks at it more as a game of solitaire.

To me, that’s the problem.

Why even discuss the merits and disadvantages to the proper quantity of water to boil?

I guess unless you have to go down to the river to fetch water it’s really not that big of a deal.

Perhaps that isn’t really the reason things didn’t work out. You might think that it was something much more complex, an ember that had been glowing since the beginning, that had flickered beneath the surface, growing into flames as more fuel accumulated.

With the flames finally casting shadows that transform the other person into someone unrecognizable.

You can choose to believe something dark like that, but I don’t.

To me, it all starts with a cup of tea.  Then again, come to think about it, I don’t even drink tea. I drink coffee.

–Arne Petryshen is a reporter for the Grand Forks Gazette

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