Because I Don’t Drink Tea – David Cook

Each morning, someone asks ‘Who wants a cup of tea?’
Everyone smiles and nods
And says: ‘Yes, please.’
But not me.
Because I don’t drink tea.

For some reason the first brew of the day is a two or three-person job.
The office empties as everyone squeezes into the tiny kitchenette.
I don’t know what you all talk about in there.
I’m left on my own at my desk.
Because I don’t drink tea.

Then everyone returns, clasping mugs to their chests,
Taking deep draughts and sighing with pleasure.
It seems you lot can’t do any work without it.
But I can.
Because I don’t drink tea.

At about eleven it’s the same again.
This time the new bloke makes the round.
‘Cuppa, mate?’ he asks me.
And I say no.
Because I don’t drink tea.

When this happens I always apologise, as if my dislike of the stuff is somehow offensive to those around me.
‘Sorry, I don’t drink tea,’ I say, and his brow crinkles with confusion as if I’ve said I don’t like breathing.
Then he says: ‘Coffee?’
And I say no.
Because I don’t drink coffee either.

‘Healthy type?’ he replies, and now it’s my turn to look confused, because my keyboard is half-buried in empty crisp packets.
I tell him I just don’t like the taste and he looks at me like I’m as barking as Battersea Dogs Home.
And then he goes to boil the kettle.
Everyone looks at me and I shrug.
Because I don’t drink tea.

‘It’s just not very British,’ Admin Jackie said this afternoon.
I suppose she has a point.
But I told her that I eat fish and chips three nights a week and have a commemorative mug celebrating every royal wedding since the fifties, so if she thinks she can out-British me she can fuck right off.
She asked: ‘Why do you have so many mugs?
Because you don’t drink tea.’

And she looked really bloody pleased with herself.
Now I’m back at home.
My colleagues are at the pub.
They didn’t ask me to go.
I don’t think they like me.
Because I don’t drink tea.

My sister said: ‘Not inviting you wasn’t because you don’t drink tea.
It’s because you’re so unbearably smug about it.
And telling Jackie to fuck off probably didn’t help.’
She’s right you know, but part of me does actually think I’m better than everyone else and it’s
Because I don’t drink tea.

But I do drink hot chocolate, on occasion.
So in the spirit of reconciliation, this morning I asked everyone if they’d like a cuppa, but they ignored me.
Jackie made the wanker sign in my direction.
So I made hot chocolate for myself.
Because I don’t drink tea.

Now no-one speaks to me.
They call me an arrogant fuckwit when they think I’m not listening.
So I sit and I type and I try to ignore the loneliness crushing my soul and I think how much I hate being here and also how much I hate going home to that horrid little flat I share with my sister and sleeping in my lumpy single bed with its grotty polka dot quilt.
I pull out the bottle of gin I hid in my desk drawer today, duck out of sight and have a quick sip. In ten minutes I’ll have another.
Because I don’t drink tea.

 

 

David Cook writes mainly flash fiction and has been published in Cabinet of Heed, Spelk, Riggwelter Press and more. Find more of his work at http://www.davewritesfiction.wordpress.com and say hi on Twitter @davidcook100. He lives in Bridgend, Wales, with his wife and daughter. He doesn’t drink tea, but that doesn’t make this poem autobiographical.

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Image: via Pixabay

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