Whenever someone’s birthday rolls around at my company we have a cake. In departments other than mine, where quantity steamrolls quality in appeal, it’s often a mammoth-sized confection of a dense cheese variety topped with gelatinous uniformly sized strawberries that I suspect are manufactured by Dow Chemical. Our showroom manager, Coco, refers to these cakes in two words:
Coco: Colon cleanse.
Any cake that can double as colonoscopy prep is not welcome in my department, Design. In general we prefer delightful treats in bite sized-portions. I’m thinking that next year I might request a cake so small and luxurious that my sidekick, Greg, will be assigned to stand next to me to hold my candle. That’s another rule of Cake in Design. The candle is limited to one. This probably has more to do with my boss Elsbeth and I being a combined 833 in dog years. We share a mutual disinclination to blow out a forest fire of eyebrow singeing flames.
This week my buddy and colleague (not) Under Ling (anymore) celebrated her natal date. (not) Under Ling (anymore) told me that she didn’t want a cake and was more in the mood for a fruit tart.
Me: Could you go for a raspberry tart?
(not) Under Ling (anymore): Yes. And don’t worry I’ll act completely surprised like I had no idea it was coming when you guys give it to me.
Me: Possibly you could appear so shocked, you could fake fainting?
I called Le Pain Quotidien and special ordered a seven-inch raspberry tart for my colleague. Elsbeth gave me the payment in cash. Greg, who does all the heavy lifting including that of 14 ounce tarts, picked it up. Then, we had to come up with the latest harebrained ruse so (not) Under Ling (anymore) could feign surprise.
Elsbeth sent her to the photo room to take a photograph. I had the bright idea that if we sent our unpaid Summer Intern to the photo room to get (not) Under Ling (anymore) this might take our veteran staffer off the scent for a nanosecond. Elsbeth thought that was brilliant. The boss gave Greg, who was working in our warehouse, the universal hand signal screaming one of two things, “Yes, I have read all three installments of the Fifty Shades of Grey series” and “Get your ass in here now!” I lighted the candle on the cake and ordered Our Summer Intern:
Me: Okay, go now — get her!
Greg raced into our office as our Summer Intern raced out. Elsbeth, Greg and I waited. And waited. We were approaching a ten count when our superior spoke:
Elsbeth: Where did our Summer Intern go?
Greg: Wasn’t she just supposed to get (not) Under Ling (anymore)?
Annoyed, I left our office, and thoroughly scoured our warehouse for our missing Summer Intern. She was either expertly hiding from me, or she instantly found a paying gig, or she was living my fantasy i.e., she walked out the door and just keep going. I returned to our office intern-less with this report to my waiting Superior.
Me: I don’t know where she went.
Elsbeth: You took so long I thought you went missing!
Greg: Like an episode of The Twilight Zone. Everyone who steps out to get (not) Under Ling (anymore) disappears!
Elsbeth (to me): Just get (not) Under Ling (anymore).
I visit (not) Under Ling (anymore) in the photo room, and lamely say:
Me: Elsbeth wants the camera back. Now.
(not) Under Ling (anymore) (muttering to self): Finally, I get my cake!
We eat the cake baffled over what happened to our Summer Intern, but not that baffled that we sent out another search posse.
My phone rings. It’s Coco’s extension:
Coco: Your Summer Intern wants to know if she can come back upstairs now?
Me: Was she down there with you all this time?
Coco: Yeah. What the hell’s going on with you guys?
Me: She was supposed to get (not) Under Ling (anymore) – not visit you!
In response to Elsbeth asking me what happened to our missing Summer Intern I calmly explain to my superior that there was a miscommunication.
Then I popped my fork through my plate.