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Spilling The Tea, Part 4: The Dangers of Meeting Internet Strangers at the Cat Pee Manor

Spilling The Tea,Part 4:

The Dangers of Meeting Internet Strangers at the Cat Pee Manor


Hello hello!

Welcome back to this week’s installment of ‘Spilling The Tea’. First, I want to say thank you, dear reader, for all of the warm and receptive feedback you’ve given me after last week’s installment. I was surprised that so many of you had experienced a long-term friendship go south. Although it was saddening to hear that it was a shared experience with so many of you, I’m fortunate that I’m not alone in this aspect. However, while we are still fresh on last week’s topic of internet friends, I have to ask: Have you ever met any of your virtual friends in person? Were they what you expected? Well, what if I told you that meeting one of your virtual friendships would turn into an absolute nightmare, and make you end up in a cat-pee manor?

Before we dive into today’s zaniness, let’s first introduce Mary. 

Mary and I had met virtually through social media. Mary lived in Portland, and I lived in Colorado. Over the course of a year, we’d share virtual tea sessions, gush over different tea and teaware websites, and simply enjoy each other's company. Mary and I had a lot of shared experiences such as being divorced from our family, having previous toxic relationships, and also, feeling lonely in life post-covid. Mary and I became really close, and there for a while, she felt like family.

Eventually, after one of our conversations about loneliness, she sent me a messaged and made me one incredible offer: “I know your finances are tight, so how about I buy a plane ticket for you to come out to Oregon? You can see your friends, and you can all come here and stay with me.”

With what felt like winning Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket, I accepted her offer. It had been a few months since seeing friends, and given how low my mental state had been at that point, Mary offered me something that I couldn’t give myself: She gave me an escape. Although temporary, I was able to take a break from my then mental-health crisis. 

So, our game plan was this: I fly into Southern Oregon to stay the night with my best friend and his wife, Luke, and MacKenna. The next day, we were to drive up to Portland, meet for a late breakfast, have a tea meet-up at a local tea shop, and tea-bar hop the rest of the evening. I would then fly home from Portland the next morning.

Except, that’s not entirely what happened. 

The day of the trip rolled around, and I flew out to Southern Oregon. I met up with Luke and MacKenna, and I stayed the night with them. Although I could go into more detail about my visit with them, it wouldn’t add to today’s story. However, I will say at at the very least, they were undeserving casualties of the upcoming nightmare, too.

The next morning, we woke up and headed up to Portland. It was four hours away according to the GPS, and once we were to arrive, we’d stop and have breakfast in the city with Mary and a few other tea friends. However, once we were an hour from Mary’s house, I texted her and gave her an updated ETA. Then, I was unexpectedly met with a distressing text from Mary that read, “Hey, my car won’t start and if we’re all going to breakfast, I can’t take all of us. Can we all pile into Luke and MacKenna’s car and they drive all of us around?”

I looked over at Luke, who was driving, and contemplated asking him — but I couldn’t. Luke and MacKenna had driven me 4 hours north to Portland, and although they were a part of the original plan, they were still driving me to Portland as a favor. I couldn’t just ask them to drive everyone around after, especially people they’ve never met before.

I quickly came up with a lie and said, “They don’t have room in their car. However, doesn’t your partner have a car? We can all just meet for food and tea, and drive separately. Let’s just stick to the original plan and meet at the restaurant.” 

I didn’t hear back from Mary, so we continued as normal. 

However, an hour later, we pulled up to the diner got on the waitlist for a table for 6 (which would include Mary), and called to let her know that we had arrived. To make things better, it was only a few blocks from Mary’s house. 

However, Mary blew up. 

“You need to come straight here, now! My car’s battery is broken, and we were supposed to all get food together, and everything is falling apart! You need to stop what you’re doing because you’re stressing me out, so just get here now!” 

She was shouting, and I was stunned. 

Over the year of knowing her, she had never raised her voice at me. I also didn’t understand why she couldn’t just meet us, since we were two blocks from her house. Now that I got Luke, MacKenna, and myself out here, I started to panic. I didn’t want Luke or MacKenna to know there were issues. 

But, with a cool head, I replied, “Hey, we’ll head over. We just need food, we’ve been driving for four hours, and we need to eat before anything else.” 

An hour or so later, we ate breakfast and nervously headed a block over to Mary’s house, where I met her for the very first time.

While apprehensive, we walked up to the door and rang the doorbell. 

After a few moments of waiting, and after anxiety set in, the door opened. 

It was Mary. 

Except, Mary was wearing sunshades and over-the-ear headphones. She gave us a side hug and went back inside. 

While standing in the doorway, we were greeted by her partner who stood up and said, “Hey, sorry about the issues earlier. My car works, so I don’t know why she got upset over not being able to take her car. We can drive separately to anywhere in the city. Except, Mary is over-stimulated and has to take a few pills to calm down. She’ll be wearing headphones and sunglasses wherever we go today.”

Then, Mary came back out and took us further into their house. Immediately while walking in, the strong smell of ammonia and pee overwhelmed us and hit us in the face like a brick wall. It was so strong, that my nose and eyes began to water as my eyes turned bright pink. My knees buckled, and while trying to find my own placement within my own body, I slowly proceeded forward. 

When talking further into the house, we noticed three cats and a dog on the couch, and another cat in the window. When looking over at their fireplace, they had a massive 32-gallon storage bucket filled with cat litter. 

Oh my god, that’s the litter box,” I thought to myself. 

While Mary gave us a tour of the house, my lungs locked up and I physically couldn’t breathe. I grabbed my inhaler, took a deep inhale, and tried to keep my composure. 

The deeper we went into the house, the stronger the smell of ammonia became. My nose became numb as my breathing became more and more difficult. 

Then, Mary guided us to the basement where Luke, MacKenna, and I would be staying.  

While walking down into the basement, I noticed that the smell of pet urine slowly dissipated, except, the basement was cold. Granted, it was in early winter, but the basement was just an empty room of concrete where you could see your own breath. We sat our bags down by a mat and looked around the room. I asked, “Just wondering Mary, how do we turn on the heat down here?”

Mary smiled and said, “Well, we don’t have heat down here. If you get cold, we can grab another blanket from upstairs. If that’s not enough, we can turn on the computers that my husband uses to mine Bitcoin. They will eventually heat up the room”. She pointed to the other side of the room which had a shelf with various computers — all covered in dust. 

I gritted my teeth, smiled, and told Mary that we’d all get settled and would come up when we were ready to leave. 

Mary went upstairs, and I fell apart on Luke and MacKenna. 

While wheezing from my asthma attack, I panicked while saying, “Bitcoin is our goddamn heat source?! I can’t cover up in one of her blankets! There’s probably cat pee in that, too!!”

MacKenna then said, “Your face turned ghost-white and your eyes turned pink the minute we walked in the house. I like pets, and I’ll even admit it’s bad in here.” 

However, while trying to calm down, we all started pulling up hotel rooms for the area. Unfortunately, finding a hotel last minute in downtown proved to be too expensive. We didn’t budget for a hotel because we were supposed to stay with Mary. As for myself, if I knew I was going to need a hotel, I wouldn’t have agreed to go on this trip to begin with. I couldn’t afford it. 

After failing to find a last-minute hotel, we came up with a new game plan: For all of the tea people we were going to meet in Portland, quietly explain the situation to all of them and hope that one of them would take petty on us let us stay the night with them. 

I mean, it shouldn’t be too awkward, right? Just, you know, ask random strangers if three people can crash with them overnight. That’s totally normal, right? 

Once we walked upstairs, we made a plan to go to a tea shop downtown and all took separate cars to our meet-up. For the rest of the day, we met up with a larger group of tea people who all came out to have tea with us. I had met various tea friends that I had known virtually for years and met them for the very first time, and it was a great experience. However, none of us could break away with anyone within the group to ask to stay with them, because Mary was always within earshot. Although she wore sunglasses and earphones everywhere, she was still aware of everything going on. As we hopped around Portland and visited various tea spots as a group, the nagging question lingered in the back of my mind: What the hell are we going to do? 

Later that night, the group of us found ourselves having dinner together. The restaurant was only a block from Mary’s house, and although it was getting late, we still had no idea how to fix the issue at hand. 

At the very last minute, Mary got up from the dinner table and announced that she and her husband would be returning back to the house early, and we could just meet them back there when we finished dinner. 

Bingo, there’s my window of opportunity. 

Once Mary and her husband left, I started asking everyone in the group, one by one, if we could stay with them. 

However, one by one, others from the group gathered around to listen to the drama at hand. Eventually, the entire group surrounded us, and everyone keyed in to what was happening. The idea of keeping this issue discrete didn’t really stay discrete. 

After a bit of back and forth, a fellow tea blogger announced that Luke, MacKenna, and I, could collect our things and sleep at his house. With relief, we thanked him. Our search for a place to stay was finally over. 

Except, we now had to go to Mary’s house and announce to her that we would not be staying with her. 

Given how she exploded when we couldn’t all take the same car to the same place, and how she bailed on food with us earlier, I was worried about how she’d react. She was now a loose cannon, after all. 

That evening, Luke, MacKenna, and I went back to Mary’s house. When we walked through the door again, the smell of cat urine hit me in the face again as my lungs locked back up. Just like last time, my nose began to water as my eyes turned blot-shot red. 

I held my breath, went down to the basement to grab my belongings, and came back upstairs. I sat by Mary on her couch (well, the edge of her couch — I was afraid to sit on it), looked at her right in the eye, and said, “Hey, I can’t stay here tonight. The pets… It’s all too much and my asthma can’t handle it. It’s not personal, and I’m grateful that you flew me out here. I just can’t sleep here.”

Luke and MacKenna held their breath while waiting for Mary to respond. With a blank stare, she looked at me right in the eye. 

After a moment of silence, and after my heart rate spiked, she finally replied, “I understand.”

MacKenna, Luke, and I all sighed with relief, grabbed our belongings, and left for our new last-minute rescueBNB…

Now when looking back, I realized that I had learned a few valuable life lessons from this. First, just because you’re good friends with someone online, doesn’t mean that the friendships will translate well to being friends in person. We may know certain people, but we don’t really know how they live. We don’t know how clean they are. And lastly, we don’t know how friends are going to react to certain social situations when certain awkward situations pop up. I knew Mary, and we had an incredible online friendship, but I didn’t really know her. 

Second, when flying out of town and staying with a friend, budget enough money for backup that you can afford to stay in a hotel in case of any last-minute emergencies. This might already be a given, but you never know what predicament you might find yourself in until you are right in the middle of it. Like myself, I never expected to be in the middle of a cat pee-house.

Now, I can look back at this memory with Luke and MacKenna, and we’ll laugh about the time we all almost got stuck at the cat-pee motel. As for my relationship with Mary? Unfortunately, our friendship didn’t last very long. Months after the visit, Mary sent several messages accusing me of faking my asthma to get out of spending time with her. After that accusation, I decided to not fight with Mary and decided to not argue with her. She had problems of her own, however, I didn’t have the energy to respond to her accusations about faking my asthma. I eventually just disappeared from her life and disappeared until she and I became strangers again. 

The last time I heard, she moved into another house, as their old house had to be condemned and leveled. I think apartments were going to be built over it. I don’t know. I always wondered how Mary and her husband could afford to buy a house because they both didn’t work. 

Either way, you have to do what’s best for your own health. You have to take care of yourself (and your asthma), and although it might create awkwardness between you and your friends, you’re the one who has to live inside of your own body, after all. The right friends will be understanding. 

Thank you, reader, for being understanding! Although I’m not going to awkwardly ask if I could crash at your house last minute to run away from an ammonia-stained condemned house, just know that anytime I’m in your city, I’ll happily do whatever I can to sit and share tea with you. We can create our own memories, and if we are caught in an awkward situation, then let's promise that we’ll laugh about it later.

Until next week,

~ Cody Wade

Aka The Oolong Drunk

“Blissfully Tea Drunk”

1 Comment

Samara Flink
Samara Flink
Jul 02

Oof! You know I'm a crazy cat lady, but there's no way I'd get down with that! I will say it was brave if you to put your faith out there! I have met some online friends in person and it was much, MUCH better than your experience! I will say that now though when we meet in person, I'll try to remember allergy meds because bubba is EVERYWHERE I am 😂

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