“…Don, really. How do you always get this tea to taste so fantastic?” Pete asked as he leaned back in his chair. There was as much envy in his voice as there was loathing.
“I’m telling you,” Don began, embarrassed by the praise, “it’s all in the tea leaves you choose. Well, that and the temperature.”
Salvatore leaned forward on the counter. He was quietly aroused when Don spoke so forthrightly about matters of the kitchen, as was evidenced by the slight bulge in his pants.
“The key with green tea is to use water that is slightly warmer than tepid.”
“Say, 80 to 85 degrees Celsius?” Pete chimed in.
“No. You pour really hot water like that over black tea leaves, Pete. With green tea, and especially for these knock-your-socks off jasmine dragon pearls, the key is to get water that is right around 75 degrees Celsius.”
Everyone let out a sigh of satisfaction, like Don had just told them their children had survived a natural disaster.
“Don, I know I don’t have to say this. But you’re rock solid. Good job on the tea.” Roger had a noncommittal grin on his handsome, tanned face. It was a smile that said, I’m proud to know you, but don’t think for one second that I give a damn about you.
“Thank you, Roger.”
The men were all quiet as they sipped on their tea. It was Salvatore who eventually broke the silence when he commented on Don’s apron. “You really didn’t think we wouldn’t notice it? I mean, it’s so stylish. It says in no uncertain terms: I’m the man of this house and no one is coming into my kitchen.
Roger chuckled. Pete let out a high-pitched laugh. Don blushed and turned away.
“Let me tell you. If Betty ever tried to step foot in this kitchen, she would have another thing coming.”
“Pow! Right in the kisser!” Salvatore exclaimed with an awkward motion of his arm, which was half an upper cut and half a jab.
“That’s right,” Don said. “One of these days, Betty. Straight to the moon!” he said in his best Gleason voice, which was pretty much dead-on.
This unleashed a roar of laughter from the men.
“Speaking of Betty, how is your lovely wife, Don?”
“She’s well, Pete. Thanks for asking. “She…” Don began, unable to finish what he wanted to say.
The men grew concerned and looked at each other for an answer to their friend’s sudden change in countenance. Roger took the initiative when he said, “Group hug?” before throwing his arms open like Rio’s Christ the Redeemer.
Don brightened immediately. The four men came together, patted each other on the back and smiled. “Who’s up for another round of green tea?” Don asked.
“Another round of green tea, it is!” Pete seconded.
“Health benefits all around!” Salvatore said.
Don offered up a million-dollar grin. “And after I pick up the kids from school later…”