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Finding Clarity: Chapter 11

Finding Clarity: Chapter 11

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Published by Laura Novak
In which Clari tip-toes through a society party, carrying a plate of Cromesquis while knowing all too well what financial shenanigans the hosts are up to.
In which Clari tip-toes through a society party, carrying a plate of Cromesquis while knowing all too well what financial shenanigans the hosts are up to.

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Published by: Laura Novak on Mar 05, 2011
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Finding Clarity: A Mom, A Dwarf and a Posh Private School in the People’s Republic of Berkeley

CHAPTER 11

When Sydney said it was a cardinal rule that no one ever, ever was allowed to wear shoes inside the DeNutti’s glass box just in case a sole scuffed the precious floor ripped out of a third-world rain forest, I just never thought ever included a party where every tight ass with Yalie glasses and an open check book would have to slide around in stocking feet. But sliding they were, in the distance, near the glass dining table, over by the bar, down the few stairs into the sunken living room. It was like an evening performance of Old People On Ice. There they were, every distinguished guest B-C could muster, their laughter tinkling along with the ice cubes in their festive drinks, as they held on to one another in their fabulously tailored fabrics and matching tans with the greatest hope that they would not be the one to make a fool of themselves in front of all of Berkeley society. And there I was, gliding toward them, a tray of rapidly melting cromesquis in my left arm, small napkins that said PEACE in my right. My shame was as deep as the color in my cheeks. And I wasn’t sure what was worse, feeling this way or anticipating the look on Andy’s face when I pleaded ignorance as to why I hadn’t corrected Deanna DeNutti. Puckered old fools with names like Thayer, James, Daryl and Lamoreau, lifted the crunchy brown balls off my tray, pretty much ignoring me. And why not? Those who did stop into the office on occasion had no reason to remember me. And even if they did,
By Laura A. Novak Copyright, 2011 Pg1

Finding Clarity: A Mom, A Dwarf and a Posh Private School in the People’s Republic of Berkeley

what were the chances that I moonlighted for the very same caterer that Our Lady of the Hills used? Terrified I’d kill myself in my Hanes pantyhose (Jesus, I hadn’t even thought to buy sandal foot) I moved gingerly from one distinguished guest to the next, careful to avoid Sonya Sterling who leaned against the fireplace mantle, draped in a diaphanous cloud of black tulle, holding court with her counterparts. Sydney hovered in the far corner of the living room, near a modern art sculpture thingy that resembled an inner tube resting on a toilet plunger. The thing – excuse me, art - must have stood twelve feet tall and barely nodded at the ceiling, that’s how cavernous this house was. Colorful wires darted in myriad directions as if screaming to get away from it. As I took the steps one at a time, sideways, as if stepping in skies, I saw Sydney momentarily grab the sculpture to regain her balance. It was then that she in turn noticed me, her what the hell are you doing with a serving tray expression punctuating my self-loathing. “What the hell are you doing with that serving tray?” Carlos Sommers eerily echoed the sentiment through clenched teeth from behind me. “You don’t want to know,” I replied, afraid to face him. “Oh don’t I? You’re supposed to be my date. My beard. Remember?” “Listen, it’s not what you think,” I whispered, as a young couple took the last of the little turd balls off my plate. The man’s plaid tie in Christmas colors matched his wife’s taffeta skirt. His nametag said Laurance. Hers read Laura. His vest was black velvet. As was hers. I stared a moment too long upon realizing that their designer

By Laura A. Novak Copyright, 2011

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Finding Clarity: A Mom, A Dwarf and a Posh Private School in the People’s Republic of Berkeley

eyewear matched. But Carlos said, “Excuse us,” and pulled me toward the wall of glass that faced San Francisco Bay and offered the best view money could buy. “Really, there’s a simple explanation,” I began, tears welling in my eyes. “It all started in Weight Watchers and….” “I don’t want to know. But you got to ditch that tray because I’m going to need your help,” Carlos added, jostling my arm. “I’m making my move on two guys tonight and you’re going to help me.” “Pardon?” “Don’t look now, but over your right shoulder is the Board member in charge of the finance committee. If Benno was paid off, he’d have to know about it.” I started to turn but Carlos grabbed my shoulders. “Nope, don’t look I said. And then to your left, nope, don’t turn around, is the head of the Buildings and Grounds Committee.” “And what would he have to do with Benno being dumped?” I asked turning back to the view of San Francisco as nonchalantly as possible. “Nothing. He just smells nice.” I tossed Carlos a look of mild disgust and tucked the tray under my left arm and began shoving the extra PEACE napkins into my other armpit. “Don’t do that,” Carlos dropped his voice, “It’s gauche.” “Look, what do you want from me?” I spat, finally venting my humiliation. “You’re demeaning, this is demeaning. I’m not welcome here so I might as well go home.”

By Laura A. Novak Copyright, 2011

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Finding Clarity: A Mom, A Dwarf and a Posh Private School in the People’s Republic of Berkeley

“No, Clari, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that.” Carlos wrapped his arms around me and nodded toward Sydney who began to slide toward us. “This, this tray thing was, I’m sure, some sort of horrible mix up. But what we have here is our first and best chance to tell a bunch of these dudes that we are on to them. Because there is no way in hell that Dickie-Poo acted alone.” Sydney slid into our midst with a phony smile that I’d come to realize was her public face. Her lips barely moved over her teeth. “What’s with the tray?” “Never mind the tray, we’ve moved beyond that,” Carlos brushed her off. Sydney bent closer to my face. “Has a girlfriend been crying?” “No, just allergies,” I said, dabbing at my eyes. “Well you take those nasty allergies right upstairs to the master bathroom and blot that beautiful mascara of yours,” she said, putting her arm around Carlos who still had his arm around me. “And tell Deanna to serve her own fucking McNuggets.” Across the hangar, Deanna DeNutti zeroed in on me, crooking her finger as if I were on a leash. “There’s a powder room off the kitchen, near the garage where the rest of the staff put their stuff,” I said, ignoring her. “I’ll just go freshen up and then figure out how to ditch that bitch.” “No honey, if you must freshen anywhere, then you must freshen in the master bathroom, like Sydney said,” Carlos affirmed.

By Laura A. Novak Copyright, 2011

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Finding Clarity: A Mom, A Dwarf and a Posh Private School in the People’s Republic of Berkeley

I crossed my arms, cocked my head to the side and said, “Why am I even listening to this? I’m going home. You’re on your own confronting DeNutti.” “No, it’s true,” Sydney insisted. It’s legendary that the bathroom is the only room in the house with any color in it. It’s floor to ceiling black marble. I mean floor to ceiling. I know because I used it once. I couldn’t help myself. One minute I’m peeing and the next I’m snooping through Lady Deanna’s drawers. Even tried on one of her Dior lipsticks. Awful shade on me, but that’s beside the point. All you need to know is that by all accounts, Dick spends a lot of time in it.” “What!” I nearly shrieked. “What on earth are you talking about Sydney?” “No it’s true,” Carlos whispered. “The word on the street is that he uses the master bathroom upstairs as his private office.” “That is an image I choose not to dwell on,” I said, shaking my index finger at them. I then started to slide toward the one hundred and fifty or so people gathering in the main living area. “I’m going to go take a moment upstairs and then go home. I’d rather be with my boys than acting as a servant for her.” But Deanna still had me in her cross hairs. She herself began gliding across the living room floor, pausing only a second long enough to glance at, nod to and then summarily ignore Melanie Mueskes. Melanie lingered alone in front of a large white canvas with a cream colored strip running horizontally across it. She was attired in a Kelly green satin dress belted at the waist and was munching on a little turd ball that someone else must have served her. Her halo of frizz was pulled back at the sides by two

By Laura A. Novak Copyright, 2011

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Finding Clarity: A Mom, A Dwarf and a Posh Private School in the People’s Republic of Berkeley

rhinestone barrettes. Dangling earrings in the shape of wrapped Christmas packages made of sequins caught the light from the recessed spots tucked in the ceiling and I wanted to cry I was so embarrassed for her. But Melanie just waved ecstatically at me as if this was the greatest party she’d ever been snubbed at. “Fine, but you’d better hurry before The Dick Man starts his speech,” Sydney said. “He said he’s got a major announcement tonight, but knowing him, it’s probably about his golf handicap.” DeNutti, with his hunched shoulders and bear-like physique wagged his finger at Sydney as if she too were his servant. He began to walk toward us, not slide, but walk. Through the spindly legs of women who drank too much and the men whose grey flannel trousers were last pressed in 1952, I could see that DeNutti wore what appeared to be pale yellow surgical socks on his feet. The kind hospitals give patients, the ones with sticky white pads on the bottom so they don’t fall and kill themselves. “Hey, how come DeNutti gets to…?” I began. But Sydney interrupted, the ever-present phony smile plastered once again across her fabulous face. “Now’s my chance to tell our buddy here that we have something to discuss. That should keep him from bitching to me about whatever it was he was going to come bitch to me about.” “But those socks…” I started to ask Carlos. But he linked his arm in mine and said, “You need not worry about getting up that slippery staircase. There’s an elevator by

By Laura A. Novak Copyright, 2011

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Finding Clarity: A Mom, A Dwarf and a Posh Private School in the People’s Republic of Berkeley

the garage door. And don’t worry about Deanna,” he said. “I’ll go talk sales at Saks with her so she won’t wonder why the help is using the master bathroom.”

Copyright: Laura A. Novak, 2011

By Laura A. Novak Copyright, 2011

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