Having a large house near downtown Wellington, silver-haired Wilhelmina and Wilson, in their golden years, are eager hosts. Unfortunately, their current guests are testing their hospitable good nature.
Once upon a time, when they lived in the same city, they had been close friends with these guests. Eventually, the friends said adieu to their kids, inherited some money, and decided to live the Kiwi dream and move to the country. That was ten years ago, before this had any fashionable artisanal aspects. Their chosen piece of paradise is an orchard forty-five minutes from Levin.
A decade later, this voluntary rustication has taken its toll.
Wilhelmina is worried about her friend. Said friend, it seems, has foregone lipstick, mascara, and taking the initiative in conversation. Upon being drawn out by Wilhelmina’s probing questions, the friend admits that she’s rather tired. “I thought you’d just, you know, plant, but we’re always swapping out for new varieties. And my back…” After dissecting every vertebra, she then asks if her hostess’s daughter Winona is married yet.
Her husband has a Kiwi male’s relish for the hard yards and seems to be flourishing. Wilson is privately dismayed at the prospect of entertaining this bloke all weekend. Where is the tolerable fellow whose ties he once admired? His laugh has become a bray. He ends nearly every sentence with “eh?” Not only does he tell an exceptionally raw version of the “Aristocrats” joke, it takes five minutes. Wilson hopes that there won’t be a repeat at the Cake Tin, where they’ll inevitably run into people they both know.
Later, the guests huddle in their bed in the icy spare room. (Winona nicked all the quilts when she moved to her own flat a few months ago.) “What on earth is Willie thinking, wearing tangerine lipstick at her age? We were teenagers in the sixties, you don’t do it twice. I’d say something but you know that’s not how I was brought up, dear.”
Her husband nestles into her cosy form gratefully and kisses her. “You don’t need that slap to be a beauty, pet. Don’t think Wilson fancies it much either, man talks like he’s got a broomstick up his bottom. Oh well, I’ll see if I can’t put a bit of the devil back in him, eh?”