I've just been to the regular gathering of my post-natal group. It's the first time I've been, having been randomly busy every other time. I was nervous, but figured if I didn't go this time they might stop inviting me, so off I went, accompanied by my nice friend Annikki, who's the kind of person who'll offer to come by your house on their way and walk you somewhere you haven't been before, and isn't averse to being The One Who Rings The Doorbell.
We both took salad, it being the New Year. I also took a coffee cake. I've recently learned to love coffee cake, having spent years wrinkling my nose up at it in disgust. I'm not a coffee fan, which makes me sad, since coffee is like wine and cheese - if you like it, there's a whole world of it out there to love. I did try, a few years ago, drinking spectacularly milky lattes, just to join the party, and for a while I felt wonderfully grown-up in the way that only coffee can make you feel. I gave up in the end, though, weary of the bitterness in my mouth and my envy of those who'd ordered tea instead. I reasoned onwards that one who spurns coffee must surely spurn coffee flavoured things, or where's the consistency? So I've always ignored coffee cake in favour of chocolate fudge, or lemon drizzle, and become anxious when offered 'coffeecake'. Some people use 'coffeecake' for cake-you-have-with-your-coffee, which is not necessarily, but which still could be, coffee flavoured, and then you have to say, is it actually coffee flavoured cake or just cake to have with coffee, and they ask why, and you have to explain you don't like coffee flavoured cake and people invariably say "Really? I love it" as though that'll lsomehow make a difference to whether or not you to put it in your mouth.
ANYWAY, I rejected all coffee cake until a recent NCT afternoon at my house. Awfully, I'd contrived to not have any supplies of cake at all in the house when people arrived, and had to mumble something apologetic and rely on the cake brought by other people, which was Millionaire's Shortbread bites (delicious - I invoked the Rule Of Hosting and ended up having five) and a large coffee cake. There was nothing I could do but have some, since I couldn't sit there with nothing on my plate except for one tiny shortbread bite (the Rule Of Hosting, obviously, has no sway during the actual party itself) because I would a) be hungry, and b) have to explain that I didn't like coffee flavoured cake which would cause the lady who brought the cake to apologise unnecessarily and then I would have to say "no, no, it's me" and we would both feel that the other was secretly judging us on our taste in cake, and it seemed easier just to eat the damn thing. And it was DELICIOUS. (Coffee flavoured chocolates, though: still nasty. So what's that all about?)
The upshot is that now I love coffee flavoured cake and have it often, so I bought one to take to the post-natal group gathering and, because of the Rule Of Hosting, I had to leave it behind because we hadn't got to it before I left. (The Rule Of Hosting: the hostess gets to keep everything brought but not consumed. I am up on shortbread bites, down on coffee cake.) I'd left the remains of my salad, but taken my bowl. "What about your coffee cake?" our hostess asked, as we said our goodbyes. What about it? I could hardly say, "Yes, could I have that back, please?" especially after watching her decant my salad into another bowl. "Keep the salad, it's just onion and beans. The cake, however, is from the Co-Op and claims to be Truly Irresistable!" No, I shrugged airily and said "Don't worry about it!" I said it with an exclamation mark for emphasis.
And that's fine, because soon it'll be my turn to host the gathering and you can bet I'll be invoking the Rule Of Hosting. And if someone brings something nice and that nice thing happens not to get eaten, and I get to eat it instead later, by myself...well, that's just the way the coffee cake crumbles.