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I Didn't Do It-I Was Eating Cake!
The ROTC annual banquet was dinner and a dance shoved into one; with a s***load of awards in-between. While I thoroughly enjoyed it, the three Guardians sitting at the table with me, Gramma and Jeff, looked pretty bored for most of it.
Jeff got a lot of awards, which didn’t surprise me. By the time they paused for dinner and cake, he had a stack of certificates to add to the huge lot on his desk and bureau, and a mound of new metals to pin to his already decorated chest.
C****t, what a hunk.
So I’m going to cut this down for you, because believe me, no one wants to hear the details about the next hour. It was award after award, and I was even eating cake. At first I was like, hey this is pretty cool; but it slowly got more and more boring. One of Jeff’s friends from another school that had Army ROTC sat at our table for awhile and I think he might have been hitting on me, but I couldn’t tell. He was nice though, and yeah, he looked pretty hot in uniform too.
At one point when I thought I was going to go crazy for sitting down so long, Jeff gave me this I-told-you-so-look that almost sent me over the edge with laughter. Luckily I covered it up with a good cough that only got a few looks.
I could see why they’d have the dance after all of this, I mean, what kid would be able to dance like his Gramma wasn’t watching after he’d been sitting down for three hours.
It was exhausting.
Jeff had to get up and present a couple of awards, so I took the opportunity to refill my cake.
I was at the back table listening to him speak and having trouble gracefully cutting a piece of devils food and putting it on my plate when I had a brain blast. Looking at the swords they’d used to cut the cake, some tradition thing, I was thinking about fencing. I could learn that, right? That would get me in shape....I bet Uncle Charles could teach me how to fence! He was really good at it, I’m sure he could teach me how to be good too....
Whilst I was having this brain blast I didn’t notice that one of the paper banners hanging over the cake table had fallen over and was right above the red white and blue candles dedicated to people’s family and friends in the service.
Yes, this DID happen. And I was standing there, eating cake and not noticing while it happened.
The banner caught on fire and said fire slowly spread up it and caught onto the paper lanterns and streamers on the ceiling. I didn’t notice things behind me were on fire until a crispy piece of star-studded white and red streamer fell into my cake. Up at the podium Jeff had stopped talking and was staring at me.
Slowly, I turned around to have a nice, fiery scene unveiled before my eyes.
Someone screamed fire and all h*** broke out.
“You’ve got to be freakin’ kidding me.” I said under my breath, staring at the fire that was building in front of me. I grabbed one of the water jugs and threw it on the banner and the other posters, one of a Marine who’d died in action, which was going up in flames.
A woman wearing yellow and black screamed and practically ran into me grabbing the big picture of a young Army soldier from the eighties-apparently that was her son who’d died in combat.
Well her son was now on fire.
To make matters worse, or better, depending on your place in the situation, the fire alarm was pulled and everyone was ushered from the gym.
“Holy crap,” Jeff said, hands shoved into his pockets as we all stood huddled in the freezing cold parking lot. “Sammy, did you just burn down the gym?”
“Great party.” Mumbled our principle, Mr. Randall as he walked by, looking dazed.
“Hey, your idiot friends in ROTC thought it would be a good idea to put candles on a table underneath a huge paper banner. Whose fault is that? Not mine.”
He laughed and wrapped his arms around me. It was a good thing I could tell when he was being sarcastic because the gym going up in flames was totally an accident.
“You’re the best girlfriend I’ve ever had.” he said. “You burnt down the gym for me...” It was more of neglect to notice anything superior, than me burning down the gym for him. But who was I to not take the credit? He was really glad to get out of that....
“Um, you’re welcome?” I asked, chin on his shoulder as he hugged me. “You still owe me a dance.” I said as fire trucks rolled into the parking lot. I was still holding onto my plate of cake. “And this cake is really good by the way.”
“It’s that Kirkland stuff.” Bass said, sitting on the curb in-between Mina and Sera. “It’s really good, right?” Gramma was sitting on the back of someone’s car, watching the flames.
People were going to be really happy when they came to school on Monday. Either that or really angry because gym was either going to be cancelled, or outside in the cold.
“That lady with the poster isn’t very happy.” I said. “Maybe I should go apologize.”
“Nah,” Jeff said, keeping me warm as we huddled together. “It’s alright. I saw the whole thing, it wasn’t your fault. It was totally you’re bad luck though.”
“Ah, she strikes again.” I muttered.
It would have been one of those Kodak moments if Gardelli and a couple other guys who’d been inside hadn’t joined us. Come on. I was standing there in a dress and heels, being hugged by my man-in-uniform. Couldn’t they wait?
“What the fick?” Gardelli snapped. Except for, you know, he didn’t say frick. “Are you KIDDING me?”
“Watch your mouth in front of my grandmother.” Jeff said because Gramma was only feet away.
“Why is it that when everything goes wrong you’re always smack in the middle of it with her.” he said, jabbing a finger at me. “She just RUINED the banquet.”
“Hey,” I said. “It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t touch anything! I was getting cake.”
Which I was now eating.
“Shut-up.” Gardelli said, ignoring me. “Do you know how pissed Commander is? The entire-“
“Gramma.” I said. “You couldn’t have used your own cake?”
“I’m sorry sweetie.” she said, licking her fingers.
The cake started to drip off of Gardelli’s face. Growling, he reached up and wiped devil’s food and frosting off of his face. Gramma stepped forward, using her cane as a crutch.
“Now you listen here young man.” she said, getting up in his face as Jeff and I stood by and watched, huddled in the cold.
Sitting down on the curb, they were watching with wide eyes and I could tell Bass was squirming with laughter that was going to have to be let loose soon.
“I’ve had enough of your attitude and you’re foul language. You kiss your mother with those lips? When I was your age we said ma’am and sir and if we ever said words like that we’d have welts on our hides. What’s your name boy?”
“Francis.” he said, stunned. “Francis Gardelli ma’am.”
“That’s right.” Gramma said, sticking up her nose. “Francis Gardelli you go away and you stay away. Keep your foul language to yourself. And clean up.”
“Yes ma’am.” he said and I grinned.
“Any man in uniform keeps himself clean.” she said. “That cake on your uniform is a disgrace. Next time you eat, put it in your mouth. Someone might ask why you’ve got frosting on your lapel and you’ll have to tell them the truth.”
“You’re just a fool.” she said in her little old lady tone, dentures clicking in her mouth. “Can’t even get food in your mouth.”
Ooh, that was a threat.
“Gramma,” Jeff said as Gardelli scampered away and Bass burst out laughing. “You’re my hero.”
“I know.” she said, patting his cheek. “You’re a good kid Jeffery. Now let’s blow this joint homie, I need my beauty sleep.”
“You got it.” he said.
So that was my first high school dance and last high school dance. It was so boring it burnt down the gym.
Once Gramma went to bed we settled down on the couch. Mina was staying with the O’Donnelly’s for the time being, so she was upstairs with Bass and Sera.
“That was the best banquet I’ve been to in awhile.” Jeff said, smiling at me. He pulled my legs up, over his lap and pulled off my heels for me. “Thank you.”
“Thank my bad luck.” I said. “I didn’t have anything to do with it.”
“You and bad luck seem to go hand in hand.” he said. “I kind of like it.”
“Yeah, you can thank me with a foot rub.” I said jokingly. I had been kidding, but he was serious apparently and who was I to stop him? My boyfriend has some very nice qualities-his amazing foot massages are one of them.
“I better get home.” I said at ten o’clock. “Aunt Cathy will probably have heard about the fire by now and be freaking out.”
“Alright.” he said and I straightened up his tie for him, fixing myself as well. We got off the couch, which I really didn’t want to- he’d been warm, his lips had been warm and I had been really comfortable there snuggled up against him.
Bass, Sera and Mina were playing some card game at the kitchen table. Bass was eating; the other two women were drinking only.
I found that if Bass has food and drink, he’s good for a couple of hours. I also found that if Bass is taken care of, Sera is a lot less irritated, leaving the both of them less irritating.
We all got in the car and Jeff drove us home.
“I’ll see you later.” I said, leaning across the console to kiss him goodbye.
“I’ll be thinking about you tonight.” he murmured against my lips, kissing me briefly.
“’night O’Donnelly.” I said with a grin and slipped out of the car gracefully, shutting the door behind me. Jeff drove off and the taillights of the Denali disappeared behind the hedge at the end of the drive.
“What a lovely banquet.” Bass said, hands in his pockets, a pondering look on his face.
“Yeah, hey- he still owes me a dance.” I said and pouted, rummaging through my purselet for my keys.
“Right, because that was the finest point of the night,” Sera said wryly. “Not the dance that never happened because you burnt down the gym.”
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I'd rather be sorry for something that I did than for something I didn't do.