An old friend treated me to afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel for my birthday yesterday. Somehow, afternoon tea brings to mind hats and white gloves and society ladies wasting time on quiet afternoons, but of course things have changed.
While everyone was well, if casually, dressed on this Monday afternoon (no hats or white gloves in sight), there was still an air of elegance in the large room. Even from the second floor, the Chicago view was nice, but it doesn't equal the view from my own thirty-fifth floor apartment two blocks away.
The Peninsula is described as a "super luxury" hotel, actually quite typical of hotels in this area. I couldn't afford to stay there. Still, this little taste of luxury made me feel good. A small string emsemble played soft music from a balcony, and the service was attentive.
The food was served on the usual three-tier arrangement of plates, and it all looked very good. There were small sandwiches, mini-quiches, pastries, and of course scones with all the usual accompaniments. The tea assortment was immense, and not knowing the difference, except between black and green, I asked what the most popular green tea was. I no longer remember the name, but it was good tea.
The room was well-populated, but not crowded, and I could carry on a conversation with my friend quite easily, in spite of my hearing loss and the fact that my new hearing aids have not arrived yet. My friend has similar hearing problems, although she's more than ten years younger than I. She's still active as a teacher (at Columbia College, Chicago) and a writer. Her world is quite different than mine now, and it was interesting to reminisce.
I guess I'm quite isolated from the local social scene, so this tea was a chance to see how other people live. For one thing, they must be rich. Tea for one cost $38! I guess elegance is fine once in a while, especially since my friend paid. I've survived another birthday, and I hope I'll be mobile enough to celebrate more of them.