Clips of Janie and Tea Cake set to Slum Village’s “I Don’t Know.” Genius! (NSFW due to cursing in the song.)
The character known as Tea Cake from Zora Neale Hurston’s phenomenal novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” is one of my all time favorite literary lotharios. He’s gorgeous, sexy, loves his woman to death (literally) and is extraordinarily passionate. Towards the end of “Turn Off The Lights” when Teddy Pendergrass gets all rough and kinda growls/yells “Turn ’em off!”– that’s Tea Cake. He’s THAT kind of guy.
The following passage is when Tea Cake and Janie first meet in “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” (Keep in mind that Zora Neale Hurston chose to have her characters speak in dialect. It helps to say the words out loud if you don’t “get it” immediately.)
“De name mah mama gimme is Vergible Woods. Dey calls me Tea Cake for short.”
“Tea Cake! You sweet as all dat?” She laughed and he gave her a little cut eye to get her meaning.
“Ah may be guilty. You better try me and see.”
Tea Cake! It’s so easy to imagine this gambling, guitar playing man charming the bloomers (That’s what they wore back then!) off of every woman in sight. Okay, one more little passage. This is the narrator describing Tea Cake.
He looked like the love thoughts of women. He could be a bee to a blossom–a pear tree blossom in the spring. He seemed to be crushing scent out of the world with his footsteps. Crushing aromatic herbs with every step he took. Spices hung about him. He was a glance from God.
Don’t you just love Ms. Hurston’s pen? Such a shame that her work was not fully appreciated in her lifetime.
I don’t know about you, but I’d take a perfectly worded paragraph over a good movie scene any day of the week. Normally, I’m super disappointed in movie adaptations of books. This is partly due to the fact that when I read a really good book, I imagine the characters so clearly and any movie adaptation just can’t measure up to whatever I see in my head.
BUT, Michael Ealy? MICHAEL EALY? He gets a fuckin’ slow clap from me for his performance in the tv movie adaptation of “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Ealy looks nothing like the Tea Cake described in the book, but he nailed Tea Cake’s personality, mannerisms and passions. I mean, I still prefer the book of course, but Ealy did a great job. He also has a degree in English. Maybe his love of literature helped him connect with the role. Hmmm
A while ago, I put out a status message on Facebook that said I believe every woman should have a Tea Cake or at least the passion of one and I meant that. Tea Cake is not all fun and games. He has some vices (and I encourage you to read “Their Eyes Were Watching God” to experience the full depth of his character), but his passion is downright scrumptious.
Who’s your favorite literary lothario?