Sunday, March 15, 2009

Coffee, Tea and Murder Takes the Cake

While the collective Evelyn David can readily agree on how to commit murder, there is a deep schism between the Northern and Southern halves on caffeinated brews.

Every morning, Rhonda, the Southern half of the writing team, stops at the Golden Arches on her way to work for a large coffee, which is served in a disposable cardboard cup. To this steamy brew, she adds four packets of Equal, definitely not Sweet & Low, and four little tubs of liquid creamer.

In contrast, Marian, the Northern half, drinks only tea (preferably King Cole from Canada), eschews all artificial sweeteners, and instead, mixes in a teaspoon of sugar (which, she adds defensively, in addition to making the medicine go down, is also only 15 calories), and a splash of skim milk – all preferably brewed in a china teacup.

The great divide between Rhonda and Marian is less the issue of coffee versus tea, and more which kind of container should hold the hot liquid. And that is the reason for this blog. Collecting stuff – different kinds of stuff – is one of our hobbies.

Rhonda collects dolls. She has her original Barbie with signature ponytail and eternally bright blue eyeshadow. Read her Happy Birthday Barbie blog at

In addition to her Barbie she has most of the dolls from her childhood, well-worn and well-loved. She also has around 20 porcelain dolls. As for her coffee, as long as it’s hot, sweet, and somebody else made it, she doesn’t care what kind of container it’s in. In fact, she prefers not having to wash anything once she finishes that last sip. A high school basketball player, she keeps up her skills by checking if she can still score a three-pointer by heaving the cardboard cup from her desk into the trashcan by her office door. It’s a rim shot, but Score!

Marian, on the other hand, collects bone china teacups. At this point, she has more than 50 different patterns. There’s no rhyme or reason to what she buys – pure whimsy (and price). She rarely pays more than $10 for a cup and saucer – usually less. Her husband, kids, family, and friends have contributed to the collection. It becomes part of every vacation to look for a teacup – whether she buys any or not. The fun is in the hunt! When having a crowd for dinner, Marian puts out a selection of the cups to serve coffee/tea and dessert. Guests enjoy choosing from the “Royal Collection” – souvenir teacups with the faces of various members of the British monarchy. While guests readily opt for the teacup featuring Queen Elizabeth and King George VI (the parents of the current monarch who were happily married for 29 years until his death), there seems to be general agreement that the teacup featuring the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana has bad karma and no amount of sweetener, real or artificial, can change that.

The wonderful, late George Carlin once mocked Americans for all our collections. “That’s all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.” We know it’s foolish, but whether it’s dolls, teacups, bandaids, bouncy balls, or banana box labels (to name a few of the weird collections I’ve seen), we collect stuff because it’s interesting, pretty, or just plain fun.
Sometimes, collecting is a perfect reason to commit murder. Either somebody wants the same stuff you do and is willing to kill for it – or maybe somebody is just plain tired of all your stuff, and is willing to do anything to get rid of it. Sounds like a good plot for a mystery – and we’re collecting those too!

Evelyn David

Evelyn David is the pseudonym for Marian Edelman Borden and Rhonda Dossett. While many fans who attend mystery conventions have chatted with both halves of Evelyn David, Marian and Rhonda have yet to meet in person. For more details on this unusual partnership, visit their website at Evelyn David is the author of several short stories including Riley Come Home in the Missing anthology from Echelon Press.

Murder Off the Books is available at

Murder Takes the Cake is available at


Camille Minichino said...

If only I could give up some stuff! I did once -- entered a convent, carrying no stuff at all. But even monastery rules didn't prevent some of us from collecting once we were in. I saw other Sisters collect everything from empty cereal boxes (the individual kind) to school pencils.
As for me, once I left, stuff attached to me like sticky notes gone wild.
It's a great post, Joanna -- gets me rethinking my stuff! I'll report ...

The Stiletto Gang said...

Thanks so much Joanna for asking Evelyn David to guest blog today!
I had a roommate in college who collected keychains. She must have had a couple thousand. She strung them all together and looped them around the ceiling - and as a college student - I thought it was cool! Oh, the good old days!

aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

As someone who practically made a career out of telling people to hang on to memories--aha, with sometimes means "things"--you can imagine the problems I have letting go! ARGH. Glad to have you here, Rhonda.

The Stiletto Gang said...

Thanks so much for having Evelyn David guest blog at Killer Hobbies. This is the Southern, tea-drinking half of the writing duo.