25.10.05

Let us eat cake

Let us eat cake


This morning, I had a craving --- not for coffee or cake, but for the company of my mother. So I called her first thing when I got to work, even before I started up ye olde laptoppe to check work email.

This is the happy equilibrium that my mother and I have arrived at since I got married and moved out on our own: There are no mandatory requirements for us to have dinner at home every Sunday or anything. Instead, we function on a much more fluid system that's managed to generate regular enough meals and drop-ins, as and when one party feels the need to see/dine with the other. Some months we see each other practically every week; other times we are equally happy to go for weeks without seeing or even talking on the phone, for various reasons (I assure you, none of them involving melodramatic mother-daughter entanglements).

Today, I felt most emphatically that I wanted to have afternoon tea with my mother. And lo, it came to pass that we met mid-afternoon, checked out Cream Bistro at Pacific Plaza, dismissed it as having far too narrow of a cake selection to meet our sugarmaniac needs (hello, we used to eat for the full three hours at the Goodwood Park Hotel's English high tea), and took ourselves over to Big O Cafe at Wheelock Place instead.

(Oddly enough, I can't find a website for Big O Cafe, even though its parent outfit NYDC is well-represented.)

And of course, what's afternoon tea without a few aunts stirred into the mix? Today's guest stars: just Third and Fourth Aunts, because my mode of precipitous planning didn't give First Aunt sufficient time to squeeze us into her day and Fifth Aunt's out of the country.

While the aunts settled into their seats, accompanied by many exclamations as to the sudden downpour (powerful enough to blacken the 3 pm sky to a 7 pm intensity), I stole Fourth Aunt's blue-framed sunglasses to try them on. The next thing I knew, she was giving them to me: "Oh, I bought them in Perth, because the last time we went there, I forgot my sunglasses. They look nice on you! Don't worry, don't worry, I have another pair from China, because when we went there, I forgot my sunglassses again! It's okay, I have the other pair, they're almost identical."

This was not unlike a certain scene from about twenty years ago, when the family gathered to visit our relatives' graves at the former Bidadari Cemetery. I stole (literally) one of her large gold earrings to wear on one side like a pirate; she gamely played along and kept the other one on. After the cemetery visit and dinner, she offered me the pair, but I declined --- which was just as well, because I don't think I would've ever worn them again.

These sunglasses, they're mine now --- I'll have to wear them again. But this time it won't be a problem, so long as the right weather presents itself (admittedly a tall order 'midst the current monsoon).

Actually, today's tea brought an unexpected embarrassment of riches: not only the sunglasses, but also a pretty jar of lavender body scrub from Bangkok, because Fourth Aunt felt that my spontaneous gesture to invite everyone to tea deserved a little reward in itself. I'm not sure how all this adds up in the great Chinese equation of giving gifts and paying for meals, but the general rule among the mater and the aunts is to accept the gift/treat graciously and return in kind at an appropriate juncture in the future.

Mutual generosity aside, afternoon tea consisted of the tasting of many cheesecakes and one chocolate hazelnut delight (improbably named Indecent Obsession, but really, it was all about decency and exultation, rather), the exchanging of household tips, the discussion of proper etiquette for delivering wedding invitations to one's grandfather, and some brow-furrowing over young people and tattoos these days. I didn't mention Terz's Project Tattoo (link accessible by Flickr friends and family only), but I did try to explain about self-expression and so on. Then my mother mentioned people who get piercings in their foreskin, and I don't remember anything after that. When my brain clicked back to reality, the conversation had moved on to mundanities like what everyone was doing after tea --- and thank goodness for that. I love the mater and the aunts, but there are some words I'm not ready to bandy about with them in conversation.

After tea, Mom and I went window shopping. We didn't need to buy anything; it was enough to listen to Mom's latest on the cousins, or the skimpy things girls are wearing nowadays, or ...

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Related posts: Time at home, Home again, home again, jiggety jig, Snippets from the week that was, Teachers' Day, redux

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2 Comments:

At 10/26/2005 4:39 am , Blogger Ondine said...

Now you finally have sunglasses! I'm going to need a pair soon too after Part 2 of the eye surgery. My current pair drops off my face when I look down. Cake... Mmmmmm....There is discussion that as Daughter-In-Law to the clan, I should start attending these tea sessions soon. Heh. =)

 
At 10/26/2005 9:41 am , Blogger JellyGirl said...

You know hor, all your talk about Nutella cupcakes, Mortinis and now cakes from Big O are very torturing! Torturing! I want it all too! Too bad I cannot slip out for afternoon tea on weekdays!

 

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