NaNoTeaMo, Day 15: “A Baby Half-Heaven Golbin’s Flying Tea Couch Adventure”
A couple of days ago, I may have mentioned I went to Seattle. While there I visited The Phoenix Tea Shop. That . . . was only part of the story. This is the rest.
Earlier in the week, my brother sent me a text message. He asked, “Hey, Geoff, are you available Thursday evening?”
I replied with a bro-ish, “Sure, what’s up?”
He said, “I’m bringing a couch home from Seattle in the truck, and will need some help getting it into the house. “
At first, I gave my affirmative that I’d be willing to help . . . but then an image popped into my head.
He was heading to Seattle that day, and I had the day off. BRO’D-TRIP!
I asked if he’d like some company on the journey up. He said that might be nice. And just like that, we were set. Bro even mentioned that if there was anything in mind for activities to let him know. I didn’t think we’d have time for anything besides the couch – given Seattle’s historically bad traffic – but I mentioned I’d keep a look out.
On Thursday, he picked me up around noon, and we were on the road.
Both of us yelled, “Onward to Adventure!”
We chatted about various bro-ish things – music, video games, tech. Y’know, the usual. Yes, I even somehow worked tea into the conversation.
About an hour down the road, I finally asked him, “So, how’s [your wife] doing at her new job?”
He started with, “She’s doing well. And this is as good a time as any to tell you . . . “ He paused.
My ears perked.
I think I made this face.
A quick aside to you ladies out there: Dudes like talking about future babies, too. The conversations may even fall along the same lines as yours. Baby names, toys, kingdoms they should invade. Okay, maybe not entirely the same. Point being, I was a little excited. I think I may have high-fived him, too. Because, bros!
As we drove, we noticed that I-5 South was backed up quite a long way. We saw a couple of accidents on the journey as well. Both of us showed our verbal relief that it wasn’t us, wiping figurative sweat from our proverbial brows.
We reached the fringes of Seattle by 3:40PM, far earlier than we anticipated. Once we reached the warehouse where the couch was housed, my brother called the company. They had the garage door open, and the couch loaded in his truck within five minutes.
My brother and I took a harness rope and wrapped it around the two couch pieces, hunkering them down as best we could. Bro felt the edges, making sure they were snug, and tested for any slack. As far as we knew, the load was secure.
After hopping back in the truck, I asked, “So, now what?”
“Know of a tea place nearby?”
I rattled off options, and my brother typed them into Google Maps. Of the options I listed, Phoenix Tea was only seven minutes from our current position. He nodded an affirmative.
When we arrived at the teashop, our presence took the co-owner, Cinnabar Gongfu, by complete surprise. “What are you even doing in in this state?!” she asked me. We went way back. Tea blogger bonds and all that.
Following a bit of chitchat, we sat down at their tasting table. Cinnabar pondered what to brew up. The biggest issue was that I had tried a lot of their unique wares. Finally, she settled on a yancha (Wuyi oolong) dubbed “Ban Tian Yao”. Its translation was a complete mystery.
Unlike other yanchas I tried, it wasn’t as cliffy or soot-tasting as low-grade Da Hong Paos. There was more stonefruity awesomeness on display. Even my brother, who usually stuck to cheap Earl Grey, liked it. He said it smelled like the inside of a pumpkin; I kinda agreed.
In typical social media whore fashion, I uploaded the above picture. During the tasting session, I received a comment from my resident Fujian expert (and requisite Tea Jesus), So Han Fan. He mentioned that one of the possible translations for Ban Tian Yao was “Half-Heaven Goblin”. And that’s what I chose to call it from then on.
We dutifully killed an hour at the shop, going through at least eight steeps of the oolong before the flavor died.
My brother was the only one keeping track of the infusions on the ticker. A little before 5PM, we got up to part ways, but not before I parted with some money in exchange for a tiny tea pet and Malawi heicha. Cinnabar wished us a safe journey, and we continued on our way.
Upon hitting the I-5 again, we noticed that the weather had worsened. The wind had picked up to 60mph, at least. Rainfall was also far more relentless. It didn’t bother us much. Might’ve been the oolong’s fault, making us all zen-‘n-shit.
About two hours down the road, though, my brother yelled, “Oooooh noooooo!”
The two couch pieces went flying. The rope harness had snapped. A couch piece landed on one end of the road; the other piece crashed by the highway median. Bro parked the truck by a guardrail, and we dashed toward the nearest piece. We got it as far from the highway line as we could. I stayed with that piece as my brother went to check on the other . . . across the freeway.
Luckily, at that time of night, there were very few oncoming cars. After checking on the other piece, he grabbed what he could and hurried back across. Once he did so, though, he looked back. A white car clipped the couch, popping its tire and sending the couch-culprit spinning.
We both gave each other that What-the-shit!? look.
My brother went back across the freeway to check on the motorist. The driver appeared fine, and came back across with my brother to assist with the couch. We didn’t really need his help, though. We Brothers Norman grabbed the one intact piece and rushed it back to the pickup. As we got it back in to the truck bed, we felt the flash of reds and blues behind us.
The police were here.
We explained to the cop what happened, he read us the riot act, and told us to stay put in the truck. We did so without any argument, catching our breath. A few minutes later, another officer showed up to grab our licenses and other pertinent information. Then we waited . . .
After what seemed like an eternity, the other officer returned to us, and said something along the lines of . . .
If it weren’t for the oolong, I think I would’ve flipped.
The cops left. We caught our breath (again) for a moment, and then backtracked along the highway to fetch the car-wounded couch-piece. I helped get it into the truck, while my brother made sure it was more secure. For real this time. Luckily, the wind had died down.
We cracked jokes about how – just maybe – The Man Upstairs just didn’t like the couch.
For most of the drive, though, we were silent. Still processing what had just happened. The trip had been so perfect up until then. Now, our feet were soaked, and our hearts were racing. All because furniture decided to take flight.
Eventually, I piped up with a, “Would it be weird if I said I still had a good time?”
My brother gave me a look.
Then we laughed.
The next day, I received a text from him, “We somehow managed to get all the parts for the couch, and I think both pieces are salvageable.”
That was a bit of relief.
This was not the adventure we had hoped for . . . but it was an adventure nonetheless.