My decision to not go to the 4th of July party seemed like an even better decision over the next few days.
Calvin and Rebecca didn’t look like they were about to break up anytime soon. On the contrary, every time I saw them, they’d be together holding hands. And Sarah kept spending all her time coming up with plans with Derek and James, not seeming like she would stop anytime soon.
I felt more lonely and depressed than ever. The only I wanted to do was hide under my bed covers with a tub of Häagen-Dazs Midnight Cookies & Cream limited edition ice cream (my new favourite after Caramel Cone) and not think about the stupid party.
Unfortunately it wasn’t an option. Not to think about the party I mean. There was no way I was gonna go, but that didn’t mean that there was any way I could get out of helping with the preparations.
The day of the party, a department was chosen to prepare everything for the event. For as long as I had been working at Anderson’s, my department hadn’t had to do a single thing, but this year it was our turn. We had to go over to the Grand Ballroom at The Waldorf=Astoria, make sure that the room is set up the way we want it, check on the food (and in many cases help with the preparation, a tradition John Sr. when Anderson Advertising had their first 4th of July party, fifteen years ago), put together the party favours, get in touch with the DJ, and do anything else that needed to be done to ensure the party was a success – in short, work our butts off.
The only consolation for having to do this was that we got the day off work. But I didn’t really find this very comforting. I’d rather be left alone at my desk, focussing on my never ending misery. Besides, helping organize a party which you aren’t planning on attending isn’t exactly the most fun thing to do.
For that reason, I was trying to go by unnoticed when John was delegating the tasks.
“Ok, let’s start with the ballroom,” he suggested enthusiastically. “I think that we will need at least seven people to work with the Waldorf=Astoria people to arrange the tables. And we also need a few more people to help with the decor and any final touches. Any volunteers?”
Decorating was definitely not my area of expertise. After all, I wasn’t a girly girl. And moving tables and chairs around sounded too tiring. I decided to wait.
“I want too,” Paris squawked. “I’ve taken many interior design courses, and I love decorating!”
“Me too,” London yelled and raised her hand up in the air.
Perfect, I thought. That takes care of those two. I definitely didn’t want to spend my day with them.
“We also need a few strong guys to help with moving stuff around,” John said. “Any volunteers?”
“I know who,” Paris cried. “Ben can help. He’s really strong!”
Oh my God! Seriously, could she be any more obvious? Obviously, we all knew she was crazy about Ben – and the other way around (although considering he was with Claire, I don’t know why he would even look at Paris. Well... I guess they were both annoyingly perfect, even though Claire seemed somewhat nicer). Regardless, Paris didn’t need to degrade herself like that. It was actually really sad and pathetic.
John’s request for “strong guys”, had almost every guy raising their hand up to volunteer, and John was able to get the number of guys he wanted.
“Ok,” he said after that. “I’m going to take care of the music, but I will need a bit of help moving the equipment with the DJ. Who thinks they’re up for that?”
Who do you think volunteered for that? Sarah’s, Derek’s and James’ hands shot up in the air like springs before John finished his last sentence. Evidently, they thought it was a good opportunity to get him alone so that they get him to talk.
Spending my day trying to pry information from john wasn’t exactly my definition of fun, but at least I’d be with Sarah, Derek and James. I decided to raise my hand and volunteer.
“Ok, the rest of you can go help out in the kitchen,” John announced just as I was about to raise my hand. “Everyone know what they’re doing? Ok, let’s go!”
Great. I was stuck helping out in the kitchen with everyone who hadn’t volunteered. That was just my luck. I was left alone, forgotten by everyone...
“Why the hell didn’t you put your hand up, Jess?” Sarah asked me crossly. “Now we’re on two different teams.”
“I was about to put my hand up,” I explained.
“You shouldn’t have waited that long. Now you’ll miss out on all the fun. When we get to bug John about Amanda.”
“Don’t worry about me,” I said bitterly. “Go have fun with Derek and James.”
“What are you guys gonna do in the kitchen?”
“I don’t know. Probably work our butts off.”
“K, catch ya later, Miss Grumpy,” Sarah said. “I’ll come by later to check on you, k?”
“Yup,” I said already eager.
Sarah left and I looked around. Great no one was there. It seemed as though my fellow colleagues had decided to ditch me and go to the hotel, so I decided to start making my way there as well.
After fifteen minutes, I was entering the hotel’s kitchen, which smelled like the inside of a bakery, causing my mouth to water. I could already see two marketing interns waiting there with a big pile of... apples. Oh, God.
“Do we have to peel all those?” I asked, my voice rising a bit.
“No, not peel them,” said the one intern. “We just have to cut them in eights. They’re for the cran-apple punch.”
“Not just those, we have to do the same for twice as many oranges, for the fruit punch,” the other intern added. “Ben just went to get them.”
“Ben?” I asked confused. “He’s here?”
“No. He’s bringing the oranges, but he’ll be back soon” the first guy said slowly, like he was talking to a two year old. “Anyways, take some apples and start cutting.”
I went over to a corner with a small knife and about a dozen apples. Hmm, wasn’t the new guy supposed to be helping out with Paris and London over in the ballroom? I guess not. Instead, he was helping out the kitchen team, just to wreck my day. I should have seen it coming.
I started cutting the apples, determined to finish as quickly as possible. At least they weren’t bruised. Just a little soft at the beginning. It took me a while to cut the first one.
When Ben came back with a huge case of oranges, I was already almost done cutting up my apples.
I felt so proud. Maybe I wasn’t so bad with cooking as I thought. Granted, I knew that cutting apples wasn’t exactly considered cooking, but at least it was related... a bit. Maybe I was going to be a brilliant cook and my special ingredient would be apples. Maybe Calvin would eat my... never mind. He had Rebecca.
Anyhow, I gathered all the slices in a big bowl and made my way to the big, industrial size container where everyone else was dumping their cut up apples in as well.
“What are those?” I heard someone ask. “Didn’t you core the apples?”
Whoa. No one said anything about coring the apples. I was told to cut them in eights, and that’s exactly what I did.
“Hey everyone, look! Jessica just cut the apples; she didn’t core them or anything.”
Evidently, the other idiots from my department thought it was funny, and started laughing like it was the funniest thing in the world. Someone went up to the container, picked up a slice and held it up in the air.
“Wow, Jess. Why didn’t you take the seeds out? Now you’ll have to clean all of them.”
Ben walked up to the container and picked up another slice. I could see his face concentrating, thinking of some joke that would have everyone practically rolling on the ground laughing.
“What exactly is wrong with these slices?” he asked. “Why does it matter that the seeds are still there? It’s not like anyone is going to eat them. Besides, when I was growing up, my mom would always leave the seeds in. She said that was the Canadian way to do it. And if I were to cut an apple, I’d leave the seeds in as well.”
He let the slice fall back into the container. I was staring at him speechless. What has just happened? If it was someone else, I’d have sworn that he had done it from... yea, from pure kindness!
“I think we need to deal with the oranges,” he said. “Or else we’ll never get out of here, and I don’t know about you, but I would like to go home and relax for a bit before the party tonight.”
He grabbed a case of oranges and everyone else followed. Soon after, everyone seemed to have forgotten all about my apple slices; they were cutting up fruit and talking, just like before.
I stayed in my little corner with the apples. I had gotten rid of the seeds this time, and I was making my way to the container and to pick up a case of oranges. Coincidently, Ben was there, alone.
“Were you being serious?” I asked him.
“When you said that your mom leaves the seeds in.”
“Are you crazy?” Ben asked. “That would be awful. I wanted to help you out, didn’t you figure that out? Even brats deserve help from time to time.”
Uhh, why did he have to act like such a jerk and make it difficult for me to thank him? I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, but I certainly hadn’t forgotten about the wine incident at the Food Emporium, so I wasn’t about to suck up to him either.
“Well, thanks anyways,” I mumbled. I turned and stared walking back to my corner.
What did he want now? I turned around barely caught the case of oranges he threw at me.
“Di you think that just because you’re useless in the kitchen, you’d get out of cutting up the oranges?” he asked sarcastically. “Oh, and by the way, you have to peel these, in case you were interested.”
He cackled in a way, I knew too well, and got back to work. I went back to my corner and started peeling and cutting the oranges without looking up. Every time I finished a case, I’d check to make sure Ben was busy and nowhere near the other cases.
He really was a jerk, I thought after thinking about it. I mean not as much of a jerk as I thought when I met him. I’d stop calling him “the new guy”, but I wasn’t going to push it. No way.
After about three cases, Sarah came. She looked really excited. She was literally was beaming. Of course! It’s not like she was forced to stay in a kitchen peeling fruit for hours on end, like some other people.
“Hello, hello,” she said. “How’s it going?”
“Good,” I said. “If you don’t take into consideration the fact that I personally made sure tonight’s cran-apple punch is served with apple seeds.”
“Ew, how come? Seeds are gross.”
“Yea, I realised that, it just took me a while. So tonight you guys will have at least one bowl of punch with seeds.”
“Don’t say “you guys”. You’re coming tonight. I already told you that.”
“No way! Anyways, how are you?”
“Did figure out if John is sleeping with Amanda?”
“No, but it was still a ton of fun. James can be so funny... obviously, Derek can as well. Both can be funny, I mean. But anyways, that doesn’t matter. I came here practically running because I have god news for you. News that will make you come to the party.”
“Whatever it is, it won’t work. Thanks but no thanks. There’s no way I’m coming no matter you say, S.”
“I mean good news,” Sarah said, practically beaming. “Don’t you get it? Amazing news.”
“Really?” I asked anxiously.
“Yes. They broke up this morning. James told me, who heard it from Caleb, Calvin’s friend from customer care, which means that it must be true. It’s over! Finito!”
I had to sit down right away. I couldn’t believe it. Finally, the endless, miserable days were over. Calvin and Rebecca had broken up. They weren’t together anymore!
“So don’t ever say again that you don’t believe in horoscopes,” Sarah said. “The prediction came true. You were patient, and now the person you are “hopelessly in love with” loves you back and you will find this out at a big event.”
She was right. My, God. Could it be true? Would Calvin and I actually be together soon? But when?
“I’m assuming the big event is the party,” S said reading my mind. “Cause you’re coming to the party tonight right?”
Of course I was going to go to the party. I’d run to the party. I’d get ready in no time and race to the party!
I love Sarah. I love my life. I’m so happy, that I even love myself. In other words: I couldn’t be happier.