Tea Bags of Love


Many years ago, I bought my mate, a wonderful wife and mother of 5’2″, a pump pot for Christmas. The next day, I brewed it full of hot tea, and ever since that day, I have been filling it with fresh hot tea every morning I possibly can and she is at home, which is most of them. I explain to her that it is my way of saying “I love you” without actually using words, and that the day I do not make her tea when she is at home and I have pump pot, hot water, and tea bags at my disposal is the day I have stopped loving her.

The Bunn-O-Matic Corporation was founded in the 1950’s, maybe 1957, by George Regan Bunn. After a painstaking 15 minutes of Internet research, I was able to trace the lineage of George R. to the famous food service tycoon, Jacob Bunn. George R. of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin was the son of Willard and Ruth Bunn, also of Chippewa Falls. The Bunns must really like Chippewa Falls, incorporated 1869. Willard Bunn, Sr., George R.’s daddy, was the son of George Whitfield Bunn. George W. (not the Bush, the Bunn) was the son of Henry Bunn and Jacob Bunn’s brother. That makes George R. some sort of grand-nephew or something.

The pump pot I bought was a genuine Bunn, and it lasted several years before my wife finally wore out the pump. That’s the quality of a Bunn product: years of pumping pleasure. That’s also an indicator of how much tea she drinks and how much love I have demonstrated. After the pot broke, I immediately bought her another one: an identical Bunn.

Jacob Bunn was a close, personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, who acted as attorney for his bud Jacob. John Bunn, Jacob’s bro, was his partner in business and also a friend of Abe, and a multimillionare. I couldn’t find much about George R. despite all my painstaking research, but I think that his numinous flair for naming companies is demonstration enough of his greatness. Were there a George Regan Bunn around today running for US President! But, alas, we’re stuck instead with a poor and frightening facsimile and that email server mistress.

The only complaint I have about the Bunn pump pot is that it doesn’t dispose of the tea bags, which I refer to as “love bags.” In the morning, before I brew the fresh pot of tea, I dump out the old, stale tea (which, by the way, remains warm for at least 48 hours in the Bunn pump pot), and out come yesterday’s tea bags with it, like clumpy clods of sweaty love, plunking into the sink afloat the bitter burnished umber of bygone’s acrid affections.

George’s inventiveness was due to his coffee obsession, which inspired him to found a division of Bunn Capitol Wholesale Grocery Company devoted to developing a device to brew coffee in a way that kept the grounds out, because they tickled his throat or something. But it is a testament to his God-given gifts for invention that they also serve equally well for use with tea.

Today, when I got home from my day job, which does not involve inventing beverage dispensers, but usually involves quite a bit of coffee, I found yesterday’s love bags in a clammy mound on my desk next to my keyboard and the new US flag that came in mail today for donating some money to the USO. The thank-you letter accompanying the flag mentioned funding morale-building snacks, which I’m sure include coffee, with my donation. I hope our troops overseas are provided with Bunn equipment along with their morale snacks.

George was a veteran of the US Marine Corps and served during WW II. I think George would smile as wide as a hungry lion in an orphanage if the US military supplied its overseas troops with Bunn beverage equipment.

Yesterday’s love bags have been a source of tension in my house for some time now. After years of emptying, filling, emptying, filling, emptying, filling the pump pot of/with tea, I got kind of tired of having to do both the emptying and the filling seeing as I rarely ever drink even a mouthful of the tea found therein. The tea in the pop is unsweetened and decaffeinated. I don’t comprehend tea like that, and it doesn’t comprehend me, so we avoid one another in the interest of domestic tranquility. It would be like drinking something other than black, caffeinated coffee or drinking non-alcoholic beer — what’s the point?

By the way, George is credited with introducing the flat-bottomed coffee filter. Perhaps he was inspired by watching barges as a tot in growing up in Chippewa Falls as they made their way up and down the Chippewa River. We’ll probably never know, because George died in 2002, probably taking the secret of his inspiration with him to heaven.

My wife has more than once promised good-heartedly and with the most sincere intentions to empty her pump pot nightly, and to her credit, every time for several days after she succeeds in a most admirable fashion. Eventually, however, the trials of staying up late and doing all the things she does to ensure the house runs smoothly despite the inadvertent, deleterious misadventures of the rest of us, catches up to her and the pot-memory switch flips off. After a few on/off cycles, I determined that I should help her keep the switch on, so I suggested that I leave the love bags in the sink if it so happens I have to empty the pot myself. I assured her this was in no way indicative of a faltering love, but just the opposite: a loving hand to assist her in rising above the vexations of my inadvertent, deleterious misadventures.

The tea bag was first commercially produced in the early 1900s by Thomas Sullivan of New York before George R. Bunn was born, so George may have had the same problem I do after he invented a beverage dispenser and expressed his love for his wife, Nancy, daily by preparing her a Bunn-O-Matic pot full of tea every morning! What a coincidence!

Unfortunately for me, my oldest daughter is disgusted by finding my love bags in the kitchen sink. She’s complained for some time now to me about it, to no avail, because I simply explain that I didn’t leave them there, her mother did, as it is her mother’s responsibility to empty the pot, and thus, any part of that activity that I undertake to complete is just helping her out: a sort of additional expression of love.

George was a Catholic and member of Christ the King Parish (probably in Springfield, Illinois, the town, coincidentally, where Abraham Lincoln is buried. How’s that for full-circle?). He was probably pious and devout, because he was endowed with blessings of inventive giftedness (inventiveness is Divine) and was a chronic philanthropist. He and Nancy were married 62 years, also probably because he was a devout and pious Catholic who really meant “until death do us part” when he said it.

I suspect my daughter, in a vengeful rage, put the clammy love bags on my desk to spite me. I didn’t think much of it, chuckling and simply moving the muculent mass 6′ 5″ to the right onto my wife’s desk.

Tomorrow will be another day. Love bags will slurp into the sink anew and a fresh Bunn-full of hot tea will brew. The world will turn and turn and turn, and warmth of wife and children will remain, and the legacy of George Bunn will forever be at the center of the love we lavish and pour out upon one another in a kind of perpetual Christmas. God bless us, every one!

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