Coffee and Tea (and Roger and Me)
Recently I set myself a challenge: three 16” x 20” Mother Goose paintings. The first was a re-do of a piece I’d done years ago for “Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!” Then I tackled a brand new “Hey-Diddle-Diddle” painting, finishing it on New Year’s Day.
Okay, what next?
I got out The Real Mother Goose and opened it at random to this:
COFFEE AND TEA
Molly, my sister and I fell out,
And what do you think it was all about?
She loved coffee and I loved tea,
And that was the reason we couldn’t agree.
Such silly sisters, so polarized by their brews! I thought and thought… and came up with… politicians.
But I hate to back down (just ask JR, my “best enemy” from third grade).
I was in the tub, buzzed on Calgon, reaching for a book of Roger Ebert’s movie reviews, when the image arrived: the sisters from their necklines up, back to back, looking askance at each other with the rhyme lettered across a white cake in the foreground. I dropped the book, and eight hundred pages of Roger’s matchless prose soaked up ten pounds of hot water and some bubbles.
I laid soggy Roger on the rug to drain and thought about the difference between coffee pots and teapots. Molly’s face stretched up long and thin, with a beaky nose placed high like a spout. Her sister’s features shrank short and stout, like the little teapot in the song.
I spent the next morning collecting images of coffee mills and tea balls and scrumptious vanilla cakes. I looked up coffee-flowers and tea-flowers to “embroider” into the sisters’ layered scarves. I collected all the card-deck Queens—Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades, just to see how their heads are dressed. I’ve drawn a thumbnail and some studies. Coffee and Tea is coming right along.
And I know what to ask for when my birthday rolls around. Poor Roger is sitting next to the dumpster, ten pounds of witty criticism, frozen solid.
I can’t wait for the movie.