Partners? What Partners?
Business first. That’s one of my mottoes.
When my best friends and I get together to discuss our cupcake company, the Cupcake Club, I am all about business. My name is Alexis Becker, and I am the business planner of the group. This means I kind of take care of everything—pricing, scheduling, and ingredient inventory—the nuts and bolts of it all. So when we actually go to make the cupcakes and sell them, we’re all set.
Mia VÉlaz-Cruz is our fashion-forward, stylish person, who is great at presentation and coming up with really good ideas, and Katie Brown and Emma Taylor are real bakers, so they have lots of ideas on ingredients and how things should taste. Together we make a great team.
But today, when we were having our weekly meeting at Mia’s house, they would not let me do my job. It was so frustrating!
I had out the leather-bound accounts ledger that Mia’s mom gave me, and I was going through all our costs and all the money that’s owed to us, when Mia interrupted.
“Ooh! I forgot to tell you I had an idea for your costume for the pep rally parade, Katie!” said Mia enthusiastically, as if I wasn’t in the middle of reading out columns of numbers for the past two jobs we’ve had. The high school in our town holds a huge parade and pep rally right before school starts. It’s a pretty big deal. One year some kids decided to dress up in costumes for the parade, and now everybody dresses up. The local newspaper sends reporters, and there are usually pictures of it on the first page of the paper the very next day.
“Oh good, what is it?” asked Katie, as if she was thrilled for the interruption.
“Ahem,” I said. “Are we conducting business here or having a coffee klatch?” That’s what our favorite science teacher, Ms. Biddle, said when we whispered in class. Apparently, a coffee klatch is something gossipy old ladies do: drink coffee and chatter mindlessly.
“Yeah, c’mon, guys. Let’s get through this,” said Emma. I know she was trying to be supportive of me, but “get through this”? As if they just had to listen to me before they got to the fun stuff? That was kind of insulting!
“I’m not reading this stuff for my own health, you know,” I said. I knew I sounded really huffy, but I didn’t care. I do way more behind-the-scenes work than anyone else in this club, and I don’t think they have any idea how much time and effort it takes. Now, Idolove it, but everyone has a limit, and I have almost reached mine.
“Sorry, Alexis! I just was spacing out and it crossed my mind,” admitted Mia. It was kind of a lame apology, since she was admitting she was spacing out during my presentation.
“Whatever,” I said. “Do you want to listen or should I just forget about it?”
“No, no, we’re listening!” protested Katie. “Go on!” But I caught her winking and nodding at Mia as Mia nodded and gestured to her.
I shut the ledger. “Anyway, that’s all,” I said.
Mia and Katie were so engrossed in their sign language that they didn’t even realize I’d cut it short. Emma seemed relieved and didn’t protest.
So that’s how it’s going to be,I thought.Thenfine!I’d just do the books and buy the supplies and do all the scheduling and keep it to myself. No need to involve the whole club, anyway. I folded my arms across my chest and waited for someone to speak. But of course, it wasn’t about business.
“Well?” asked Katie.
“Okay, I was thinking, what about a genie? And you can get George Martinez to be an astronaut. Then you can wear something really dreamy and floaty and magical, like on that old TV showI Dream of Jeanniethat’s on Boomerang?” Mia was smiling with pride at her idea.
“Ooooh! I love that idea!” squealed Katie. “But how do I get George to be an astronaut?” She propped her chin on her hand and frowned.
“Wait!” interrupted Emma. “Why would George Martinez need to be an astronaut?”
Mia looked at her like she was crazy. “Because aboyhas to be your partner for the parade. You know that!”
Emma flushed a deep red. “No, I did not know that. Who told you that?”
I felt a pit growing in my stomach. Even though I was mad and trying to stay out of this annoying conversation, the news stunned me too, and I couldn’t remain silent. “Yeah, who told you that?” I repeated.
Mia and Katie shrugged and looked at each other, then back at us.
“Um, I don’t know,” said Katie. “It’s just common knowledge?”
I found this annoying since it was our first real pep rally and this was major news. “No, it isnotcommon knowledge.” I glared at Mia.
“Sorry,” said Mia sheepishly.
I pressed my lips together. Then I said, “Well? Who areyougoing with?”
Mia looked away. “I haven’t really made up my mind,” she said.
“Do you have lots of choices?” I asked. I was half annoyed and half jealous. Mia is really pretty and stylish and not that nervous around boys.
She laughed a little. “Not exactly. But Katie does!”
Emma and I looked at each other, like,How could we have been so clueless?
“Stop!” Katie laughed, turning beet red again.
“Well, ’fess up! Who are they?” I asked.
Katie rolled her eyes. “Oh, I don’t know.”
Mia began ticking off names on her fingers. “George Martinez always teases her when he sees her, which we all know means he likes her. He even mentioned something about the parade and asked Katie what her costume was going to be, right?”
Mia continued, “And then there’s Joe Fraser. Another possibility.”
“Stop!” protested Katie. “That’s all. This is too mortifying! Let’s change the subject to something boring, like Cupcake revenue!”
“Thanks a lot!” I said. I was hurt that she said it because I don’t find Cupcake revenue boring. I find it fascinating. I love to think of new ways to make money.
How do my best friends and I have such different interests?I wondered.
“Sorry, but you know what I mean,” said Katie. “It stresses me out to talk about who likes whom.”
“Well, no one likes me!” said Emma.
“That’s not true. I’m sure people like you,” said Mia. But I noticed she didn’t try to list anyone.
“What do we do if we don’t have a boy to go with?” I asked.
“Well, girls could go with their girl friends, but no one really does that. I think it’s just kind of dorky. . . .”
I felt a flash of annoyance. Since when was Mia such a know-it-all about the pep rally and what was done and what wasn’t and what was dorky and what wasn’t?
“I guess I could go with Matt . . . ,” said Emma, kind of thinking out loud.
“What?!”I couldn’t contain my surprise. Emma knows I have a crush on her older brother, and in the back of my mind, throughout this whole conversation, I’d been trying to think if I’d have the nerve to ask him. Not that I’d ever ask if he’d do matchy-matchy costumes with me, but just to walk in the parade together. After all, hehadasked me to dance at my sister’s sweet sixteen party.
Emma looked at me. “What?”
I didn’t want to admit I’d been thinking thatI’dask him, so I said the next thing I could think of. “You’d go with your brother? Isn’tthatkind of dorky?” I felt mean saying it, but I was annoyed.
Emma winced, and I felt a little bad.
But Mia shook her head. “No, not if your brother is older and is cool, like Matt; it’s not dorky.”
Oh great. Now she’d just given Emma free rein to ask Matt and I had no one! “You know what? I’m going to check with Dylan on all this,” I said. My older sister would certainly know all the details of how this should be done. And she was definitely not dorky.
There was an uncomfortable silence. Finally, I said, “Look, we don’t have to worry about all this right now, so let’s just get back to business, okay?” And at last they were eager to discuss my favorite subject, if only because the other topics had turned out to be so stressful for us.
I cleared my throat and read from my notebook. “We have Jake’s best friend Max’s party, and Max’s mom wants something like what we did for Jake. . . .” We’d made Jake Cakes—dirt with worms cupcakes made out of crushed Oreos and gummy worms for Emma’s little brother’s party, and they were a huge hit.
“Right,” said Emma, nodding. “I was thinking maybe we could do Mud Pies?”
“Excellent. Let’s think about what we need for the ingredients. There’s—”
“Sorry to interrupt, but . . .”
We all looked at Katie.
“Just one more tiny question? Do you think Joe Fraser is a little bit cooler than George Martinez?”
I stared at her coldly. “What does that have to do with Mud Pies?”
“Sorry,” said Katie, shrugging. “I was just wondering.”
“Anyway, Mud Pie ingredients are . . .”
We brainstormed, uninterrupted, for another five minutes and got a list of things kind of organized for a Mud Pie proposal and sample baking session. Then we turned to our next big job, baking cupcakes for a regional swim meet fund-raiser.
Mia had been absentmindedly sketching in her notebook, and now she looked up. “I have a great idea for what we could do for the cupcakes for the swim meet!”
“Oh, let’s see!” I said, assuming she’d sketched it out. I peeked over her shoulder, expecting to see a cupcake drawing, and instead there was a drawing of a glamorous witch costume, like something out ofWicked.
“Oh,” I said. Here I’d been thinking we were all engaged in the cupcake topic, and it turned out Mia had been still thinking about the pep rally parade all along.
“Sorry,” she said. “But I wasthinkingabout cupcakes.”
“Whatever,” I said. I tossed my pen down on the table and closed my notebook. “This meeting is adjourned.”
“Come on, Alexis,” said Mia. “It’s not that big a deal.”
“Yeah, all work and no play makes for a bad day, boss lady!” added Katie.
“I amnotthe boss lady!” I said. I was mad and hurt. “I don’t want to be the boss lady. In fact, I am not any kind of boss. Not anymore! You guys can figure this all out on your own.”
I stood up and quickly gathered my things into my bag.
“Hey, Alexis, please! We aren’t trying to be mean, we’re just distracted!” said Mia.
“You guys think this is all a joke! If I didn’t hustle everything along and keep track, nothing would get done!” I said, swinging my bag up over my shoulder. “I feel like I do all the work, and then you guys don’t even care!”
“Look, it’s true you do all the work,” agreed Emma. “But we thought you enjoyed it. If you’re tired of it, we can divvy it up, right, girls?” she said, looking at Mia and Katie.
“Sure! Why not?” said Mia, flinging her hair behind her shoulders in the way she does when she’s getting down to work.
“Fine,” I said.
“I’ll do the swim team project, okay?” said Mia.
“And I’ll do the Mud Pies,” said Emma.
“And I’ll do whatever the next big project is,” said Katie.
I looked at them all. “What about invoicing, purchasing, and inventory?”
The girls each claimed one of the areas, and even though I was torn about giving up my responsibilities, I was glad to see them shouldering some of the work for a change. We agreed that they would e-mail or call me with questions when they needed my help.
“Great,” I said. “Now I’m leaving.” And I walked home from Mia’s quickly, so fast I was almost jogging. My pace was fueled by anger about the Cupcake Clubandthe desire to get home to my sister, Dylan, as quickly as possible, so I could start asking questions about the pep rally parade and all that it would entail.
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