Tales of food, sex and friendship




Season 3: Episode 11

August 16, 2011

Warm smells of baking wafted through the house as Willow opened the oven door and removed the batch of apricot delight biscuits. She’d gotten the recipe from a wonderful online baking community that she had stumbled across one day. The tops were golden brown and she had white chocolate melting slowly over a basin of hot water that she was going to drizzle over the top. She hadn’t baked anything since her ill-fated dinner with Robert Fortescue the previous week and was finding the familiar actions very cathartic. For a few days after the dinner, Willow had been furious with Robert but this had given way now to confusion. On paper, she shouldn’t really like him, but he was everything she thought about. She certainly didn’t understand why he would pursue her like he did only to leave without so much as a good-night kiss or a follow-up phone call.

Men, thought Willow. Bah!

She shook her head to dispel thoughts of him; it wouldn’t do her any good to be distracted by that now. Tonight, the girls were interviewing for a new housemate. Willow and Mia were devastated that Ana was leaving. For years now they had enjoyed a pretty much perfect household: The three girls who were so different from each other but each knew they could rely on the others for a shoulder to cry on, a willing champagne partner or a special occasion meal. But all good things must come to an end – or at least diverge a little – and Ana had found her Tom and he was, well, perfect for her.

Ana herself had been in denial about the fact she would no longer be living with her best girlfriends. Tom was completely wonderful and amazing, but just didn’t have the same ability to gossip over a bottle or three of champagne. She initially hadn’t wanted to stay for the interviews at all, but Willow and Mia had begged Ana to sit in.

“It’s your house,” Mia had pleaded, “and don’t you want to make sure anyone who moves in is going to get along with you too? Just because you’re getting married doesn’t mean that we’re not going to keep hanging out all the time.”

Ana conceded that Mia did have a point and so was reluctantly preparing the living room for the anticipated arrival of the first prospect.

***

At 5:30pm, the girls were seated eagerly and nervously in the living room, sipping cups of tea and trying not to eat all of Willow’s amazing biscuits before any of the interviewees arrived.

At 5:45pm the first girl still hadn’t arrived.

The doorbell finally rang at 5:52pm. Mia answered in and ushered Marianne – “call me Mazza” – into the living room. Willow, Mia and Ana had already independently decided there was no way that they would ever call her Mazza and thus the prospects of her being invited to join the household were slim. But, they pushed aside their prejudices… for about three and a half seconds.

“I’m so sorry I was late,” Mazza said, tucking into the biscuits without being offered, “But Deal or No Deal was fucking awesome tonight and I couldn’t get my arse off the couch.”

The plastic smile was plastered over Ana’s face as she made eye contact with Willow.

“Don’t suppose you could switch on the telly could you? Neighbours is on now and I never miss it.”

“The television is broken,” lied Mia, “and we’ve got another person arriving in a few minutes. We’ll call you.”

Mazza grabbed another biscuit for the road as Willow, politely but firmly, showed her to the door.

“She farted on the way out,” whispered Willow in disbelief, walking back into the room.

The others started laughing hysterically and Ana jumped and went into the kitchen. She reappeared moments later with an open bottle of red wine and three glasses.

“I don’t think tea is strong enough for us to endure any more of these,” she said, filling the glasses.

***

Jenny was next and, having very recently broken up with her boyfriend, spent fifteen minutes sobbing about the injustices of the patriarchy regarding their ability to completely destroy a woman’s life by deciding they wanted to hang out with their mates and play poker rather than settle down and have 2.5 children and a white picket fence.

“How long were you together,” asked Willow softly, stroking her back as Mia handed her a box of tissues.

“Th-th-th-three weeks,” sobbed Jenny, emptying the contents of her nose loudly into a tissue. “It was my longest relationship ever.”

“I didn’t even think that three weeks constituted use of the term boyfriend,” said Ana after she left.

She topped up the three glasses with wine.

***

Sofia – a stunning Russian national – seemed nice enough, until her phone rang and she proceeded to shout into the handset for ten minutes, pacing around the room and making lewd hand gestures to no-one in particular. None of the girls spoke Russian, but they were pretty sure she wasn’t making polite chit-chat with the caller.

“My muzzer,” she explained, hanging up and slamming the phone back into her bag. “Vot a beech.”

“I don’t really get along with my parents either,” said Ana, who understood something of dysfunctional families, but not a whole lot of Sofia’s strong Russian accented words and took a punt that she was talking about her mother.

Sofia made a snarf noise in the back of her throat and nodded enthusiastically. “Ze beech vants me to have lunch vis her Saturday, but I am getting my nails done. She doesn’t understand how important eet ees.”

***

By the time Natalie “I don’t eat anything with carbs, fat or sugar”; Steph “I think my boss is trying to kill me. Actually I think everyone is trying to kill me. You’re not trying to kill me though, are you?” (They didn’t actually have to reject her as she decided about two minutes after she got there that they were, in fact, trying to kill her, and ran from the house.); Bridget “my favourite thing to do on a Saturday night is to have wild sex with a stranger”; and Molly “I don’t like to wear underwear”, had come and gone the girls had polished off three bottles of red wine and were falling around the living room in fits of giggles.

Ana’s ringing phone quietened them momentarily until they heard it was Tom and then they started grabbing the phone and making kissy noises into it.

Tom laughed good naturedly, indulging them until he had Ana on the line again.

“Sweetheart, I know it’s late notice, but have you filled the room yet?” he asked.

“Not yet,” said Ana, “You should have seen some of the people who came through.”

“We have a new girl at work who just started last week and she needs a place to live pronto. I completely forgot to tell you the other day about her. She’s really sweet – you’ll love her. I’ve already mentioned to room to her. Can she come over now?”

Ana shrugged. “Sure, why not.”

“Her name is Sarah,” said Tom before hanging up.

***

Twenty minutes later Sarah rushed into the room breathlessly.

“Thank you so much for seeing me,” she gushed, words tumbling out of her. “Tom told me about the house and I’ve just moved over from Perth and need a place to live and he said that you were all so wonderful, especially Ana of course.”

Her cheeks were flushed from the cold and she had a pleasant smile. She was pretty in a plain way and had a wonderfully sweet vibe about her. She detangled herself from the swamp of coat, hat and bags and sat in the chair that was proffered by Mia. The girls liked her immediately.

“Oh, I almost forgot.” She jumped out of her seat again and ferreted through one of the bags, producing a Tupperware container.

“I made these for the people at work today,” she said removing the lid and offering it forward. “But architects don’t eat too much when they’re working and there are heaps left.”

The girls peered into the box.

“Aren’t they…?” Willow trailed off, looking at the plate of biscuits on the table next to her.

“They’re called Apricot Delights. I got the recipe from this great baking website.”

The three girls all burst out laughing simultaneously and Ana held forward the plate of identical biscuits.

“Here’s some we prepared earlier!”