Earlier this evening, during dinner, I began a sentence to my wife with the words, “One time, when Josh and Steven were about eight or nine…” Before I could finish, she said, “You mean the iced tea thing?” I’m taking her response as a sign that I need to get this story off my chest before I find myself doomed to repeat it ad infinitum, so I will blog about it here, establishing a Definitive Text of The Great Iced Tea Story.
Before I begin the story, however, I want to leave you with a single, undeniably useful kernel of information on the off chance that you find the story a waste of time. I feel that there are certain undeniable facts in life, and that once found, they must be immediately disseminated for the benefit of humanity. These facts tend to take two forms: facts that accompany a positive good, such as a pleasure or benefit of some kind, and facts that help us avoid something uncomfortable or bad, such as those facts found in cautionary tales.
Being who I am, I will present the latter most of the time.
Today’s useful fact: it is an Unpleasant Thing to eat tortilla chips with a very dry mouth. Consider yourself warned.
Now to the iced tea story. Once day, when my sons Josh and Steven were around nine or ten years old, around the time our family was living in a house on Wavecrest Dr. in Orlando and playing Back to the Future on our Nintendo, we all converged at once upon the refrigerator for a glass of iced tea. I was slightly ahead of them, having removed the pitcher and started to pour when they arrived. They both told me that they wanted iced tea too, of course, but as I poured out the pitcher we all realized there was only enough tea to only partially fill up an eight ounce glass.
Now, we had two options. We could split this already pitiful glass of iced tea three ways, giving us all a gulp of tea, or we could somehow determine who would be the winner of the single glass of iced tea. I chose the latter option, being a latter option sort of guy, and suggested a contest: “Okay, we’ll all pick a number between 1 and 10, and whoever gets the closest gets the glass of iced tea. I got the number. Go ahead and tell me your guesses.”
At first they liked the idea and started nodding, but they nodded with a certain, oh, disturbance about them. Like they were bothered by something but couldn’t quite put their finger on it. Now this disturbance, in the course of three or four seconds, increased to a preoccupation, like a puzzle to be solved, and then gelled to a realization, a dawning light of truth upon their situation, not just in terms of the last cup of tea, but in terms of life. Almost simultaneously, they said, “Hey, you know what the number is!”
I laughed. They laughed. Then I drank the glass of tea.
In a single fell swoop my sons learned an invaluable life lesson about capitalism and scarcity and what happens to those who are neither holding the tea nor making the rules.
Not sure, but I think I made another pot of tea…
One thought on “Iced Tea and Capitalism”
Hi Prof, this is good, but have you had Chrysanthemum tea? I think there is a poem by Li Po either called “Chrysanthemum” or goes something like this: “In the short time that I have known Chrysanthemum, so bitter is my life…” http://koonwoon.blogspot.com