Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Polly, and her favorite thing to do was have tea parties* with her dolls. When Polly first became a little girl, tea parties were a big thing and everybody enjoyed them. She had lots of friends, and they’d all get together with their dolls all the time and have water tea and plastic sandwiches.
But then gradually, Polly’s friends all started to lose interest in tea parties. First, she noticed a distinct drop in enthusiasm, a sort of going through the motions, the way her parents were when they played tea party with her. Then, one by one, her friends stopped showing up, or they started saying things like, “I don’t know. Want to play Barbies instead?” Or “Let’s play supermarket.” Or “You want to go outside?” Or “I really have to do my taxes this week.”
“You guys,” Polly said. “Why doesn’t anyone ever want to play tea party anymore?”
Her friends looked at each other.
“Listen, Polly,” said Susy. “Tea parties…they’re really boring. They always feel like something we should do? But they’re not really interesting, and anyway, nobody has tea anymore. It’s so old-fashioned. It doesn’t speak to us about our lives.”
“But…but I really love them,” said Polly.
Polly tried to interest herself in other, more popular activities, but none of them came with plastic sandwiches. She felt depressed and lonely. Surely somewhere, people were still into tea parties.
“Maybe in the city,” suggested her mother, and so Polly went to the city and sniffed around.
“Tea parties?” said the first man she asked, a man with a briefcase and a brimmed hat. “No, I don’t think anyone’s doing that. My daughter and her friends play fancy ball sometime. It’s like a tea party, sort of, but with dancing.”
“Ugh,” said Polly. “Dancing.”
Polly went all the way to our nation’s capital and asked the President.
“Oh, wow, tea parties,” he said. “That takes me back. I don’t think you’ll find much of that in the US these days. It’s sort of…I don’t know, froofry and precious. Maybe in England. Let’s check with the UN.”
So, Polly and the President went to ask the General Assembly, who were all playing fancy ball together.
“Tea parties?” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, carefully setting down his glass of water champagne. “God, I have no idea. Guys? Are any of you aware of anyone still doing tea parties? Like, with dolls and plastic sandwiches?”
There was a lot of murmuring, but Polly could see where this was going.
“Maybe somebody in Brooklyn? There’s got to be someone doing it.”
“Uh, sorry, no,” piped up the Brooklyn delegate. “There was this guy who was doing them two years ago, but he lost his space, and now there really isn’t anyone. There are some little girls in Bushwick who play school every other Saturday, and they have dolls and I think there are sandwiches? But I guess that isn’t really the same thing.”
“No,” said Polly sadly. “It isn’t.”
So Polly went home, and tried to forget all about tea parties, but she enjoyed them so much – more than she enjoyed anything else, really. So, she sat in her room and played tea party all by herself until she was a very old woman, full of regrets and resentment and water tea.
*I know I mention the President and everything, but this isn’t some sort of veiled political commentary. This is about the kind of tea party you have with dolls.