by Professor Whyse
by Professor Whyse
In Philosophocle, the street is lined with cafes and snackeries. Each advertises a different atmosphere. The high-class Starset has individual tables, uniformed waiters with silver-star badges, mochas drawn in the shape of maidens, and hot chocolate in tall glasses with swirly chocolate straws. The crowd-pleasing Delites offers bubble tea, self-serve yogurt machines with toppings, and mochis in tantalizing rows beneath cartoon pictures of themselves, the color of their filling leaking through their faces like a soft blush. Simplitea provides a tea bag, hot water, and a place to sit for 50 cents. At Delites you go with a group of friends - no one will pay attention to you if you go alone - but at Serendipiteas, you are ushered in to a random seat, facing someone you do not know. In Melli’s Flows the conversations never stop, hurried on by the always-present bubbling fountain (careful: the fish bite), and guests are encouraged to journey from table to table, with different h’ors d’oveures at each table to tempt (free with entrance ticket).
There are tea houses to suit every taste - for the poor and the rich, for those who enjoy talking about the weather1 to those who enjoy talking about ancient philosophy, world problems, or the most vulnerable yearning parts of one’s soul. (There is one for quick romances as well, Impassioatta.) I would suggest consulting the Unofficial Guide to Tea, released by the Students for Students Club at the University, but it is not updated as often as the teahouses change managers or compete to put up new menus, so it is easy to fall out of date. On the plus side, there has been a recent influx of art majors on the Committee, and they have decided to represent the major flavors of tea and coffee at the different teahouses with characters, which they give personalities - Green at The Leafy Bough is a gentleman in a suit, who will proffer you napkins before you ask for them, as opposed to Silk at Melli’s, a smooth-talking man in a rainbow shirt whose hands are always moving, as opposed to Matcha at Delites, a plump little girl who will tell you all about the newest episodes of the current anime that is sweeping those into Eastern culture.
Recently there has been a new addition. The Electric Eel, it is called, and it looks like it has been dropped here from another continent. It has an imported neon sign that flashes, its mascot eel alternating between blue and electric yellow. It is taking a lot of business away from the other teahouses. They dim their lights, turn on fog machines during the evenings, and serve iced tea rather than hot tea. If you ask me, they dilute the tea with too many ice cubes, but a lot of people seem to like clinking them around in their glasses. There is a dance floor, with strips of light flowing around the walls. There is some guy there who gives dance lessons, not the kind of ballroom dancing you do with a partner, but a dance you do individually. I hear that it is amazing, people lined up in rows trying to copy the Great Danzini as they creak their joints in 360 degrees of movement and the “disco ball” alternately spotlights different amateur dancers. No one knows whether there is one Danzini or three or ten, behind his mask - how can one man stay up dancing every night for so many hours? He never talks. He gets lots of tips.
I am not so sure about the Electric Eel. Some of us think it is a bad influence from the Continent, where such things are called “nightclubs” and are home to uncontrolled lewdness (Impassionatta, on the other hand, is quite controlled.). But we of course let the students have their fun, as long as they are not violent.
Talking about the weather at Philosophocle is a very serious matter! For it is impossible to reduce the state of the weather to a word like “cloudy” or “sunny,” the emotions of the sky are more variegated than the emotions of people, being so much vaster in scope.↩