Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Manny Journals, continued. 

(If this is new to you, please scroll down to the bottom of the page and start with chapter 1. Where I also explain what The Manny Journals are and why I'm posting these chapters!) For those of you following along:  I'm finally pretty well settled in my new house, and back to working. (Yay!) Two more (old) chapters to edit, then I will decide if I'm going to keep writing new chapters. I'd love to hear what you think, if anybody out there is following along!
Chapter 4: Just a Few Friends
I glance at the clock: 9:51 pm. It’s been six hours, and I’m still working on this god-forsaken PowerPoint presentation. The afternoon has been one of interruptions.
First, my mom calls me to ask about graduation tickets. I only reluctantly agree to send her the seven tickets she requests. Second, right before dinner, my roommate stumbles into the room, bleeding all over the place. (He fell off his bike. I helped him clean his cuts in hard-to-reach places.) Third, my sister texts me to demand that I call her—why she just didn’t call me, I’ll never know—because Mom and Dad are upset about how terribly I’ve been treating them. It turns out that they expect me to crawl home and grovel for their forgiveness, which they’ll only then reluctantly grant.
I’m in far from the best of moods when my cell phone begins playing the opening bars of “Viva La Vida”—the ringtone for people not in my contacts. I almost don’t answer, but then I notice the number. A 650 area code; that’s Palo Alto.
I flip open the phone. “Hello, this is Blake,” I answer, trying to sound chipper.
“Blake! It’s Leslie Jensen. I’m so sorry to be calling this late, but I just got home—”
She just got home? It’s almost 10:00 on a school night.
“And I realized that it’s already Wednesday. I have no idea where the week’s gone.” She places a hand over the phone, and hollers something about finishing homework. Hopefully, she’s talking to Addison.
“Sorry about that. Anyway, I know it is late notice, but I was wondering if you were free this Friday. We’re having a little get-together. It’d be a wonderful chance for you to meet everyone.”
My weekend plans consist of studying for tests and finishing heretofore procrastinated-on projects, but that might have to change.  My employment contract, signed and sealed, still hasn’t been sent. It’s not that I’ve been avoiding the issue. I just haven’t gotten around to it. I suppose I can look at this dinner as a final interview, one last chance to make sure I’m doing the right thing. Besides, waiting one more day to tackle the work I should’ve started last month isn’t anything new to me.
I make a decision. “Sure, I’m free.”
“Great. We’re having dinner catered at our house. Just a few of William’s and my closest friends and colleagues. And the kids, of course. I’m not sure when we’ll actually sit down for dinner, but everyone’s coming straight from work. You should be safe getting here by 7:30.”
“Should I wear anything in particular?”
“A couple of guys will probably still be in suits from work, but something casual is fine. A button down shirt and slacks work. A jacket if you want.”
Mrs. Jensen’s hand slips over the phone’s mouthpiece again. This time she yells about not eating after brushing your teeth. Now I suspect that she may indeed be talking to Oliver.
“Sorry. I’m trying to corral the kids. Oliver’s just finishing up his homework.”
“Ah, right. I’m actually doing the same thing,” I say, chuckling weakly.
Mrs. Jensen’s tinkling laughter joins my chuckle. “Well, then I’m sure you can relate! By the way, I’ll hire a taxi to pick you up for dinner. William has some great bottles of wine he’s been saving. Shoot me an e-mail with where to send the cab.”
I’ve never had someone offer to hire a cab to pick me up for a party. If this is what mannying for the rich and powerful will be like, I could get used to it real fast.
I swallow my surprise. “Okay, great.”
“Super.” There’s a slight pause, and then she says, “I’m sorry. Bryce won’t stop calling me. I have to run and tuck him in. See you Friday!”
“All right. Thanks.”
She has to tuck Bryce in? Ten o’clock seems like an awfully late bedtime for a four-year-old. But then, maybe he only does afternoon session at preschool. One of parenting articles I read recently said that toddlers and preschoolers can have awfully odd sleeping patterns. Worse than even teenagers, sometimes.
I set aside the phone and turn back to my PowerPoint presentation. I can’t wait until I’m done with all of the papers and projects and out playing in the park with the Jensen kids. The occasional catered dinner won’t hurt, either.