Tales of food, sex and friendship

Posts Tagged ‘Birthday party’

Season 3: Episode 3

June 21, 2011

Mia pulled the door to the Pilates studio closed behind her and double-checked to make sure it was locked. She let the winter sunlight melt over her skin, closing her eyes for a second to bask in it. Originally from Singapore, Mia felt the cold much more than native Melbournians. She often wondered why she had chosen this city as her home, given that most of the year she spent hunched inside a huge jacket waiting for when it was going to defrost enough to wear a t-shirt. Still, she did love this place, and occasionally – like today – Melbourne would surprise her with a day of glorious winter sunshine.

She walked slowly down the back streets, avoiding the Saturday throng of people meandering from one coffee shop to another. She had no plans for the rest of the afternoon or evening and was planning on keeping it that way. She thought she might sit in their back garden with a book to soak up some of the late afternoon rays, then perhaps a gin and tonic, DVD and sleep?

Perfect, thought Mia, stretching like a contented cat as she walked home.

Pondering over which movie she felt like watching, she didn’t notice the man dressed in dark denim and sunglasses round the corner. He was concentrating intently on his phone and wasn’t looking where he was going either. Mia yelped in surprise as she walked headlong into him, almost tripping over. He was carrying a Tupperware container, which looked as though it may topple out of his hands, but he managed to save it with a skilful balancing manoeuvre.

“Oh I’m sorry… Mia?”

Mia blinked, the sunlight momentarily blinding her. She knew that voice.


He laughed. “Yeah, sorry, wasn’t looking where I was going.”

As one does, they exchanged pleasantries about the weather and life in general before an awkward silence kicked in. Johnny looked about nervously and Mia chewed her lip.

“What are you doing now?” asked Johnny suddenly.

Mia blinked. “Um, nothing. I’m just on my way home.”

“Come to a party with me.”

“What? Now?”

Johnny grinned. “Yeah, the house is just there.”

He pointed to a gorgeous weatherboard cottage a few doors down. Creeping foliage coiled around the front porch posts and hung lusciously over the entrance.

“But I’m not invited,” Mia protested.

“Trust me, it’ll be fine. The more the merrier.”

“Whose party is it? Someone I know?”

“No,” said Johnny simply. He wasn’t giving anything away.

Mia realised that she didn’t know any of Johnny’s other friends outside of Willow and Ana. She had images of bikini clad girls stoking a barbeque and splashing in a paddling pool, even though it was winter; Ageing hispters standing around and looking bored, drinking obscure Scandinavian larger.

“It’s going to be filled with girls young enough to be my daughter, isn’t it?” said Mia sarcastically.

Johnny winked. “Oh, you have no idea. Come on, it’ll be a blast.”

He grabbed her hand before she could protest and pulled her along. Mia groaned inwardly. Why did she do this to herself?

Johnny rang the doorbell and waited, flashing another smile at Mia. She heard footsteps barrelling down the hall and the door swung open.

“Uncle Johnnyyyyyyyyyy!”

At first Mia didn’t see who had spoken, but she dropped her gaze a few feet and was greeted by the site of a little girl who was dressed in a purple tutu, purple tights and sparkly purple shoes. A purple and silver tiara rested crookedly atop her chestnut curls and she brandished a wand that was, predictably, purple.

“Happy birthday, sweetheart,” said Johnny, leaning down and scooping the small child up with his free arm.

She giggled, shouting “Put me down! Put me down!” and beating him with her wand.

“Ivy, this is my friend Mia,” he said, resting her on the ground again. “Today is Ivy’s fifth birthday,” he explained to Mia.

“I’m grown up now,” said Ivy seriously, gracing Mia with a deep curtsey. She turned back to Johnny. “Today you have to call me princess Ivy, because I’m a princess.” She indicated to her outfit. “See?”

“Johnny! You made it,” a beautiful, tall woman who Mia took to be Ivy’s mother came striding down the hall, swooping to clear the balloons out of the way.

“You told me you would never bring a date to a five year olds birthday party,” she scolded, kissing Johnny’s cheek then holding out her hand warmly to Mia. “I’m Helen, Johnny’s sister.”

“Oh, I’m not…”

Johnny interrupted. “This is Mia, an old friend.”

He handed the Tupperware box he was carrying to Helen, who looked inside and chuckled.

“Ivy, come and look what Johnny made for you.”

Ivy charged down the hall again, squealing and clapping her hands in delight as her mother lowered the box for her to look at. Nestled inside were little tiny edible teacups – marshmallows resting on cookies, with tiny sugar handles. Mia’s mouth almost fell open in surprise and she glanced at Johnny, who winked at her again.

“I’m pretty handy in the kitchen,” he said as he led her towards the back of the house, stopping briefly to procure two glasses of champagne on the way through.

There were about fifty people gathered in the back garden, all laughing and talking. Children were running wild everywhere, screams of delight and occasionally a few tears breaking up the adult conversation. Johnny was greeted warmly by everyone, and introduced Mia to groups of people whose names she promptly forgot. After Johnny had done the rounds and played the requisite games with the birthday girl, he steered Mia towards a quiet corner, snaffling two chocolate crackles on the way.

“I didn’t even know you had any siblings,” said Mia, in between bites of the rice bubbles and chocolate. She hadn’t had one of these for probably fifteen years.

Johnny shrugged. “I guess you never asked.”

Mia nodded slowly. She was beginning to think there were plenty of things she didn’t know about Johnny.

The rest of the afternoon passed in beautiful blur of sunshine, champagne and birthday cake. The edible teacups were a hit with the kids and Johnny had already given out the recipe to at least six other people. Johnny made Mia feel so at ease and she could barely believe this was the same womanising heartbreaker she knew.

Or, thought she knew. She gazed intently at his profile, wondering if she actually knew this man at all. He looked over and caught her staring. Mia didn’t drop her eyes. A sexy smile spread slowly over his face.

He leant forward and put his mouth close to her ear. “Want to get out of here?”

Mia felt shivers of anticipation run down her spine and nodded wordlessly. She didn’t trust her voice to behave.

“Let me just say goodbye to Helen and we can disappear,” he said.

Mia took the opportunity to go into the kitchen and get a glass of water. The champagne had made her lightheaded. She could hear two people in the living room, talking.

“Did you see the girl with Johnny,” a voice said, disdainfully. “I wonder if she knows he’s slept with most of the women here. Even the married ones.”

The other women gasped. “No!”

“It’s true. He’s even tried his charms on me. I said no, of course.”

“Of course!”

“I mean, I’m happily married, but you know what people like him are like. They’ll try it on with anyone.”

Suddenly the wonderful giddiness of the champagne dissipated and Mia came crashing back to reality. Of course. That was the Johnny she knew.

“Ready?” she spun around and saw Johnny waiting, their jackets over his arm.

“I’m… um… I have to go.”

Mia grabbed her coat from him and rushed out the front door.

Johnny stood there staring after her. Two women peered their heads through the door of the living room. He recognised one of them as a horrible friend of Helen’s who flirted outrageously with him whenever she saw him. He’d had to firmly turn her down on several separate occasions. Obviously in a terrible marriage and looking for some kind of escape. She eyed Johnny coolly and looked pointedly at her friend, before they withdrew their faces from the doorway.

Johnny took out his phone to call Mia, but hesitated.

That’s it, thought Johnny. That’s enough. This is too exhausting.

He pushed his phone back into his pocket, frustrated. If they couldn’t even hang out together without having a fight it was never going to work. His shoulders sagged and he started the long walk home, pulling the collar of his jacket up to shield himself from the cool evening air.