Tea - totaled

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superego@sfbg.com

SUPER EGO Gurl, I woke up on the wrong side of Tuesday afternoon. I don't know if it was that pint of Cuervo I ordered for appetizers the night before or that quart of quinine I downed soon after for the tetanus I got from sitting on someone's iPod, but I was hella hungover. My jaw was swiveling, my heart was pounding, and my languid extremities felt so hot that the unicorns on my nails nearly melted. One minute I was hosting the World Cup in my fantasy bra and panties, the next I was hosting it in my actual head.

"This is it," I thought through the shuddering echo of tiny cleats. "Mama's gettin' middle-aged." I'd finally hit one of midlife's big Hs: hot flash, hair loss, hangover. And I'm only 19! Good thing I carry some Remifemin and an extra wig in my beaded Whole Foods evening bag.

Fitfully I scanned the Dumpster for any half-smoked butts and chased my scattered thoughts to their grim conclusions. Folks think I'm frickin' Carrie Bradshaw, being a columnist, lolling around in my Blahniks, whimsically riffing on the romantic wiles of my telegenic brunchmates, leaping with a shy giggle into the magical dilemmas of contemporary life. But this is clubland, Samantha: Dive too deep down in it and hey, presto! abracadrinkingproblem. Ain't nothing wrong with a little party-party, y'all, but us clubbers gotta watch for that border cross over the Rio Messy: Shit's about as tasteful as soyr cream on a tofurkey burritofu, but with almost twice the calories.

So, maybe it was time for a tiny hooch holiday. Me, I'm an uncurbed child of the streets, where "time-out" is code for "free clinic" (and "free clinic" means "trick's bathroom"), but in my new semifully employed state I'm always running into vibrant-looking Guardian people taking "a personal time-out" from drinking, from smoking, from imported prickle-backed Peruvian shellfish, whatever. You'd think my health insurance here would cover hangovers, what with the professional risk involved in my line of work, but alas, "no dice."

"You can do this," I assured myself. "Just for a week. It's not like when the government made you give up Wal-Trim diet pills. That was forever."

But just because I wasn't drinking didn't mean I wasn't going out altogether. She's still gotta earn a living, and her living's spilling tea. Luckily, along with the current wine bar burst, San Francisco's having a tearoom explosion as well. (No, not that kind of tearoom, perverts. Leaves first, then you pay not the other way around.) And the goddess of cups provides several venues for bar-hour tea-totaling glee. The slightly hoity-toity yet still chill Samovar Tea Lounge (www.samovartea.com) in the Castro is a bookish, cruisey mecca and just opened a Yerba Buena Gardens outpost to boot. Modern Tea (www.moderntea.com) has taken hold in Hayes Valley, with its stylish presentation and unequaled view of all the tipsy drag queens stumbling from Marlena's down the street. Hang on to your saucers, ladies.

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