"Have you only just got up?" I was accused.
"Cuppa tea?" I replied, wearily.
I busied myself in the kitchen with the kettle and the milk and the banging of mugs to hide the fact that I was erratically loading the dishwasher with last nights pots, kicking crumbs under the cooker and hiding my twenty pack of Marlboro's in the sugar bowl.
The kettle flicked off of the boil and I made my way into the living room to set down the mugs on the coffee table, praying I had done it right. Mama is very particular about her tea.
"Did you put the milk in right away?" she asked me.
I sighed. "Yes, mum, I promise".
"Good." She took a slurp. "Have you got anything for dipping? Any cake?' she asked.
Papa looked up at me. "Oh yes, a bit of cake would be lovely," he said. "Lemon cake, or a spot of Madeira maybe?"
I shook my head gravely. "We've got some old ginger nuts or the left-over Christmas Jelly Babies," I told them. "We went shopping yesterday and only brought fruit and other healthy things because we all got fat over the holidays. You could have blueberries and natural yogurt?" I offered, "With a sprinkle of sugar on?"
Papa looked offended. "What, no cake?" he said.
"No. No cake," I told him.
He turned to mama and, indicating toward me with his head, he clucked and said, "She's got no cake in," "No cake?" Mama repeated.
"No cake," said Papa, shaking his head.
It was like I had confessed to only keeping the severed heads of former lovers in the fridge.
"Look! Bloody hell! I am sorry there is no cake!" I said to them. "Here, we've got some biscuits."
I raced through into the kitchen to pick up my housemates' stash and handed it to them. "Stick a couple of those in your gob whilst I throw on some clothes".
Returning minutes later, make-up bag in hand, I walked into a very deep discussion about the detriment of keeping the ginger nuts with the chocolate digestives.
"You see," Mama told me, waving her choice at me, "Everything takes on the taste of ginger if you keep other things with them".
"Urgh!" Papa interrupted, "They're soft!"
"No, I wouldn't thank you for one these. They're horrible," Mama agreed. "A slice of cake would have done just the job".
"Oh yes, it is such a shame she doesn't have any".
I dropped my concealer. "OHMYGOSH! ENOUGH! JESUS!"
"You know if you cover your spots with that," Mama said, indicating to my make-up, "Won't they just get even worse?"
I stared at her. "Don't you guys have somewhere to be?" I asked them, politely as I could muster.
"Oh, and your dress is see-through. Did you know that?"
I could not actually tell whether I was part of an elaborate joke that I was sort of missing the point of, or if all of a sudden I was having the epiphany that all twenty-somethings have. My parents have gotten old.
I racked my brains desperately.
Mama has started to sprout the odd hair on her chin, which I prune like Mary Mary Quite Contrary on my weekly visit to her. The way I felt during The Cake conversation, this pretty maid would end up in a ditch in my garden, no problem.
Mama, on reflection, has of late taken to telling me stories about people I don't know at quite some length. Papa shakes his head when he watches the telly and often turns to Mama after I have spoken to ask, "What did she say?"
Yup- that was it. The Parents were 'getting on'. My fears were confirmed when after Mama asked to make a call to Malaysia on my mobile Papa fell asleep on my sofa. Typical old people behaviour. I felt a little more forgiving toward them after that.
Until, that is, I got a text message an hour or so later. Old people don't text, so it was a bit of relief. It was from mum. "Just in Starbucks. Had a lovely caramel cake. I said no to the ginger nuts."
Rudeness- the prerogative of the elderly.