Monday, November 9, 2009

The Pleasure of Her Company

This past Saturday morning, Miss M and I prettied up a bit and proceeded to our local tea shop with my mother and aunt. There we ordered pots of tea (a berry tissane for Miss M), delicate cucumber sandwiches, thin slices of rich pound cake, and scones piped with whipped cream topped with apricot and raspberry preserves. Everything was exquisite: bite-sized and delicious. There was an absolutely tremendous baby shower underway--I've never seen so many gifts, positively heaps of them--and the little girls wore beautiful dresses, patent leather shoes, and outsized hair bows. Like eight year-old Miss M, they were wide-eyed with the wonder of being allowed to eat scones AND cake AND cookies, and they were all on their best behavior in hopes of prolonging the fantastical experience.

Although welcoming of all, it struck me that a tea shop is an intensely feminine place. It's telling that this tea shop doesn't even have a men's room--only a ladies' room and a unisex bathroom (both nicely decorated, I might add). There were very few men at the shop's tables. Our table noticed with amusement the stray men who would wander in, then become so unsettled with the tea shop's overriding femininity that they beat a hasty retreat. As it turns out, tea shops historically were a favorite meeting place of suffragists. Could there be a more perfectly civilized place for women to gather and plot the course of women and the vote? I really don't think so.

After tea, we proceeded to Southern Market, where every woman in Knoxville was handing over the contents of her wallet. The Southern Market is a labyrinth of little shops heavy on monograms, throw pillows, and embroidered towels. Miss M, a girly-girl of the highest order, loves the decorative aspect of the place and can spend hours perusing the wares until she finds a little something worth her pocket money. Did I mention the Southern Market was filled with women? Other than a plainly bewildered elderly gentleman carrying his wife's toy terrier, there didn't seem to be a man in the place.

I don't know of many public spots that are exclusively a woman's domain. But tea shops and interior decorating stores come darn close to it. Vive la femme!


AppyLove said...

I am possibly the least girly girl I know, and I LOVE the Southern Market! There's something magical about all those monograms and all that toile. It's like when I try to explain to my husband my belief that it's actually impossible for me to buy too many sheets, blankets, or towels. Unthinkable!

The need for a well-stocked linen closet is hardwired into whatever feminine chambers my brain actually has.

Just like loving the tea party I had with my mom, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and niece last summer. There's just no denying it. We're never really too old for a tea party. I loved reading this post!

500Jerk said...

I like the Southern Market, too. But as for pointless acquisitions, I have more of an outerwear problem than a linens problem. There's always room for one more coat in my closet (and that's not a double entendre).

Speaking of toile, wouldn't it be excellent to have subversive toile? E.g., instead of cherubs and ladies with parasols, there would be pierced people getting tatoos, dudes with motorcycles, etc. It would look like regular toile, but up close it would be ALL REAL.

What do you think?

Hope we can have lunch when you are in Knoxville next.

AppyLove said...

Subversive toile is the coolest fashion idea I've ever heard. I think you should seek a patent. I will keep it close to the vest until the product launch. I don't want to sell you out. I will give you a shout next time I'm making my way to the big town!