Brown always got to the bakery at the crack of dawn and made their lives hell all morning but tended to take off by mid-afternoon, early evening at the latest. It was always such a relief when he left. Terry could relax and be normal again.
Vani didn’t seem to mind Brown and even found his antics amusing, verbally sparring with him on any topic from virginity to politics. Terry really had to hand it to Vani sometimes; nothing seemed to embarrass him. Lee also handled Brown well: laughing at his jokes and letting the insults bounce off of him like they were nothing. Myles on the other hand was constantly a wreck. Even when Brown was gone he’d be jumpy, as though he was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. And he kind of sucked at his job. He was a decent baker – not that Terry was a baking connoisseur – but he always made a mess in the kitchen and couldn’t clean up for shit. And forget the cash. Terry never thought of himself as particularly good at math but compared to Myles he was an arithmetic genius. The few times Myles had been forced to take someone’s order he’d always screwed it up and charged either too much or too little. Fortunately the old lady customers were cool about it, gently helping him out and even tipping the idiot for his troubles.
So Myles was mostly relegated to the back and aside from the back room duty of carrying things up and down the stairs, Terry was always kept up front. Brown had been right about one thing: the ladies loved him. It seemed every female geriatric and soccer mom in Beaconsfield was making the Brown’s Homemade Bread her go to place for bread and croissant. And those ladies tipped well. It was pretty sweet.
“Good job today, Teddy,” said Brown as he was leaving for the day. “All those old broads were creaming their jeans for you. But if we really want the lunch rush to get serious you might consider wearing tighter t-shirts. Maybe a V-neck. And you should wear the apron at your waist, don’t cover up your chest.”
By now Terry realized that Brown was completely serious. He nodded his ascent and waited for Brown to leave, then texted the gang that it was safe to come over.
“I need a hug,” said Cerise as she walked in the door.
Terry went to her and wrapped her up in his arms. They stood there for so long that finally Vani advised them to get a room.
“Tough day?” asked Terry.
“Just Trista’s usual hippy bullshit. You?”
“How ‘bout you, Vani?” she asked.
“Super mega fantastitron!” Vani hollered. “Turn up the beat yo, turn up the beat!”
Myles had apparently taken the cue because the music got louder and was changed from the usual soft rock to something Terry didn’t recognize. Myles came out from the back, grooving to the music and he actually wasn’t a bad dancer but as soon as he noticed Cerise he froze.
“Hi!” she said brightly. “I’m Cerise, Terry’s girlfriend.”
“I collect used napkins,” he replied and then retreated back to his cave.
“That was Myles. He’s a bit weird,” Terry explained.
“I’ll be sure to take my napkin with me when I leave.”
Karine stood outside the Bonne Glace, and across the street she could see Terry, Cerise and Vani hanging out inside the bakery. Would it be totally lame to suggest to Mike that they have their date there?
He pulled up a second later and sat in the car, presumably waiting for her to get in but she motioned for him to join her.
“What’s up?” he asked after parking his car.
“I was thinking we could hang out here tonight.”
“The bakery,” she jutted her chin in its direction. “Everyone’s gonna be there.”
“Oh. You don’t wanna be alone?”
“Don’t be in such a fucking hurry, Mike. It’s only our second date,” she sneered.
“Sorry,” he replied.
He actually looked really ashamed so Karine went up to him and kissed him. He held her close and returned her kisses, stroking her back and sending shivers up her spine.
Just then Janice came out of the ice cream parlour and whistled at Mike. “Looking good,” she said and then pinched his ass as she walked by.
“Jesus!” he exclaimed.
“It’s pronounced Janice,” she said with a wink and Karine couldn’t help but laugh.
“Dealio-yo-yo, dealio-yo-yo,” sang Vani as he bopped up and down. “The crew is on their way.”
“So what’s our plan for tonight?” asked Cerise with a giggle.
“I dunno, but it’ll be mega, I can tell you that much,” he replied, wiggling his head back and forth.
The door opened and Janice bounded in, announcing herself as Jesus and then complimenting Terry on his baseball cap. She even went so far as to sidle up to him and pinch his butt, to which he responded by pushing her away with an awkward laugh. Cerise simply rolled her eyes, refusing to let Janice’s antics get to her.
“So check it out, y’all,” said Janice, turning to the window.
They all looked outside and saw Karine making out with Terry’s hockey friend, Mike Townie or whatever. Vani pressed himself against the window and made faces, and they all followed suit. Eventually Karine noticed them and burst into laughter so loud they could actually hear it from inside the bakery. She ran across the street with Mike in tow and they came inside laughing.
“You guys are such losers!”
“It’s part of our charm,” said Terry and Cerise in unison.
Mike and Terry exchanged “Hey man’s” and then shook hands, which Vani observed with fascination.
“Even outside of their natural habitat, the homo-erectus-hockey-playectus greets a tribe-mate with familiarity,” he narrated.
“Really?” Mike said, clearly asking Terry if this was truly the type of people he hung out with.
“He grows on you,” Terry grinned.
“Like a fungus!” Vani exclaimed, latching on to Mike’s arm.
Mike looked about ready to freak out and tried to shake Vani free.
“Van, chill,” advised Terry and Vani retreated, bowing to Terry in deference.
“Ok…” Mike’s eyes grew wide and he looked at Karine for support, but she was laughing along with the rest of them.
Shauna perused the want ads on Jobboom, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to get any of these positions. Even the lowest paying jobs required typing skills and she’d never been that good with computers. Cerise had always been an amazing typist. She could do it without even looking at the keys and she could have a conversation while simultaneously writing.
Shauna figured her best bet was to get a job in a store. One of those places that advertised by putting a sign in the window. Maybe a coffee shop or something. She’d figured out how to use her parents’ complicated espresso machine so she’d probably be able to handle a Starbucks or Tim Horton’s. Then again, those places would require her to work a cash register and those things looked so intimidating. She just knew she’d mess up. And she’d never be able to learn how to make a billion exotic drinks. Plus she’d have to talk to people. And she hated people and they hated her. She’d never get a job. She’d never get a friend. She’d never get out of this house. Maybe she should burn it down.
Jay and Karl arrived wearing their green BYC uniforms but Willy had changed into street clothes. Sarah came in with Cassie, both wearing pretty sundresses. Cassie immediately went up to Jay and they kissed. It was a very discreet embrace but everyone acted like it was a horrifyingly overt PDA and made noises of disgust and threw wadded up napkins at them. Cerise wondered if Myles would collect those discarded napkins and sure enough he swept them all up after everyone laughed at the joke. He could have just been cleaning though, as he busied himself with wiping down tables and locking the front door once he was done sweeping.
Cassie introduced herself to him and he stammered and rushed off and Vani declared that clearly Myles was in love with Cassie and followed him to wherever he’d run off to.
“So have you started working yet?” Cerise asked Sarah.
“I start next week but I’ve already been by for like an orientation of sorts.”
Karl interrupted to announce that this so-called orientation had been voluntary and self-guided and none of the other instructors had been present. “You’re such a keener,” he laughed.
“Like you should talk,” Sarah scoffed. “I heard the Commodore saying how the new blond bosun is one to watch ‘cause of how you take initiative and stuff.”
“A job worth doing is worth doing right,” he shrugged in response.
“Why are you guys mocking each other for having a strong work ethic?” asked Cerise. “It’s a good thing to do a good job.”
“Yeah, we rock,” smiled Karl.
“It’s true, we’re pretty awesome,” agreed Sarah with a giggle.
“Way more awesome than Jay, that’s for sure,” said Karl, lowering his voice. “I mean no offense but he’s gonna have to step up his game if he wants to keep up. I mean we’re fucking handy-men, it’s not that complicated. I don’t know what that guy’s problem is.”
“Sometimes I think he might be depressed. He was never this sullen back in high school,” nodded Sarah.
“So have you heard the news?” asked Vani as he joined them with Willy in tow.
“What news?” they all asked in unison.
“Mylo is totally in love with Cavity.”
“Aww, the little weird boy?” asked Sarah. “That’s so cute.”
“Who gives a shit?” asked Karl.
“We should try to get them together,” said Vani as though it were self-evident.
“But Cassie’s with Jay,” Cerise helpfully pointed out.
“Not if we can help it,” snorted Willy.
“Oh my god, seriously?” asked Cerise. “Why are you guys always trying to screw each other over? Why can’t you just let Jay be happy?”
“Seriously,” agreed Sarah. “No wonder he’s depressed if even his friends don’t have his back.”
“You can’t stand in the way of true love,” said Vani.
“Mylo and Cavity are meant to be,” Vani went on.
Sarah sighed heavily. “You know Vani, your zany antics aren’t always cute. Sometimes you’re seriously just an asshole. I feel like I’ve sworn off you guys a million times over and yet I keep finding myself hanging out with you. It’s totally insane.”
“Fight it if you must,” grinned Vani. “But you’re like a moth to a flame. Hey, speaking of true love, I’m single, you’re single, let’s get jiggy!”
Sarah snorted in derision. “God, the sad thing is I could totally do worse.”
“Don’t get desperate!” Cerise laughed.
“I know, right? I bet you I can find a cute guy at the yacht club.”
“Totally,” agreed Cerise. “I’ll come by this weekend and we can scope out the prospects together. We’ll bring Cassie and Karine, it’ll be a whole thing.”
Terry ran to the nearby dep for beer but he and Myles agreed to serve everyone the day’s leftovers for free. Brown would never notice them missing. After one day of having resolved never to eat the bakery food, Terry gave in, realizing that the shenanigans in this kitchen were probably mild compared to most restaurants. At least here he knew which batches had floor flour and which were relatively clean.
As he handed out drinks and stale pastries, he reflected on the scene before him. Mike Townsend wasn’t his favourite teammate but if Karine was into him that was fine, he supposed. It was kind of cool to be able to hang out with his school friends and his hockey friends at the same time. He’d prefer Karine dating Nick but he’d heard that Nick was into Sarah and that was cool too.
In the end he mostly just cared about his own love life. Cerise was so perfect. She was pretty and hot and cute and fun and funny and smart and awesome. And he was finally ready to admit, maybe even out loud that her group of friends was cooler than his. He had more fun just chilling with these nerds than he’d ever had cruising with Andrew.
“She’s such a fucking fruit, it’s not even funny,” Cerise was saying to Sarah and the boys as Terry joined them.
“Who’s a fruit, Trista?” Terry asked, standing behind Cerise and putting his hand on her shoulder.
She stroked his hand and stood up. “Yeah. I mean sometimes it is funny ‘cause it’s so stupid. I’ve actually started transcribing some of the things she says, with the idea of like starting a tumblr or something on the stupid shit hipsters say.”
Terry took her seat and she sat on his lap, wrapping her arm around his neck and softly kissing his ear before turning back to the table.
“We could have a whole page on the shit Janice says,” giggled Sarah.
“I’m sure that already exists,” said Karl, taking out his phone. “I mean a page for the shit hipsters say.”
“But anyway, yeah. Even though it’s funny sometimes, mostly it just annoys me and it makes the days go by really slowly.”
“Tell me about it,” nodded Willy. “Bagging groceries is so dull sometimes I stack them in a weird way just to amuse myself.”
“I guess that’s normal, for summer jobs to suck,” shrugged Terry. “I mean it could be worse I guess.”
“Yeah,” nodded Cerise. “It’s not that bad I guess. It’s not like being in a factory in
or whatever. It’s just tiring to have to
work with someone you don’t like.”
“At least she’s not your boss,” Terry went on. “I mean your mom will always take your side over hers. For me the person who makes my life hell is the boss so there’s nothing I can do.”
“Yeah, that sucks, but working for my mom is awkward in its own way. I feel like Trista can get away with shit that I can’t. And my mom loves her. It’s like she walks on water. They’re both hippies. Trista seriously suggested we hang crystals everywhere, to like harmonize the space or whatever and my mom loved the idea. If I were to suggest something my mom would just poo-poo it.” Cerise sighed and leaned back on Terry.
“Would she?” he asked, rubbing her arms. “Have you actually made any suggestions?”
“No. I guess I don’t care enough about the place to want to change it.”
“Maybe you should care more. Take more of an interest.”
“Yeah, that’d be good I guess. I was just telling Sarah and Karl how it’s awesome that they’re so into their jobs. They do really good work ‘cause they actually care. I wish I did have more emotional investment but deep down I think little bookstores are stupid. I mean we have e-books now, what’s the point of paper books? And even if you’re into paper books, there’s Chapters. We don’t need some dinky little shit-hole.”
“But some people like that dinky shit. Like the hippies and hipsters and the old people. There’s still a market for it.”
Karl nodded and said that Terry had made a good point, which filled him with pride. He was almost embarrassed to find himself so pleased by a compliment from robo-Karl.
“I mean for my personal taste I agree with you, Cerise,” Karl went on. “Paper books are stupid. But there’s still a lot of geriatrics and poseurs who want to buy that old crap so if your mom wants to sell it then good for her for taking advantage of a niche market.”
“Yeah, but I can’t make myself care about something I think is stupid.”
“I bet you could,” said Sarah. “If you really wanted to.”
“Doublethink is a powerful thing,” nodded Karl.
“I’d rather have a job doing something I already care about,” sighed Cerise. “Except I don’t think the ‘Analyze Sci-Fi Shows Emporium’ exists.”
“Sure it does,” said Karl. “It’s called Innerspace and it’s on the Space Channel but you’re not gonna get there by whining about your current situation.”
“Yeah,” agreed Sarah. “That’s why I work so hard at everything I do. ‘Cause I know it’s leading to something. I’m only a fair sailor and I don’t particularly like kids but I work this job for a year and I put it on my CV and then next year I get something better. That’s how it works.”
“So I guess my problem is I lack motivation,” said Cerise with the tinge of an edge to her voice.
She sat up straight and Terry felt her butt bones digging in to his legs but he didn’t protest. He could tell she was getting pretty pissed off by this conversation but he was enjoying it. It was cool to discuss interesting topics with smart people and have his opinions validated
“Yeah, I think actually, yeah,” said Sarah gently. “You’re like way smart but you’re kind of like, I dunno, I don’t wanna use as strong a word as lazy but like, yeah, you lack motivation. It’s like everything has always come easily to you, so you don’t bother putting any effort into anything, but if you did put effort you could really excel. You could have been at the top with Karl and me at convocation last year, if you’d wanted to.”
“Things don’t come easily to me,” Cerise argued, the edge in her voice getting stronger.
“It’s not a bad thing,” said Sarah defensively. “They come easily to me too but then I put in that last bit of effort and I fucking ace everything. I’m sorry if I’m being arrogant, but it’s true.”
“But you sometimes take it too far,” said Karl. “The secret is striking a balance. The following is a truism: twenty percent effort yields eighty percent result. But putting in a hundred percent effort only yields like another two percent result. So don’t fucking kill yourself trying to get to a hundred. Just do as much as you need to to be on top.”
“It’s not about being on top, it’s about doing your best,” snapped Sarah.
“No,” said Terry with authority. “People don’t care if you tried hard. That shit doesn’t get noticed. You don’t win medals for doing your best, you have to be the best. But I’m totally digging that twenty percent thing,” he nodded to Karl. “Just do as much as you have to, no more.”
“So you don’t believe in doing your best if good enough is better than the rest,” said Cerise wistfully, her anger apparently diffused.
“Yeah, that’s a good line. It rhymes,” chuckled Terry.
“I know, eh? I should write it down,” agreed Cerise, taking out her new phone and beginning to type. “I don’t believe in doing my best if good enough is better than the rest,” she sang to herself, still typing. “I’ll only work as hard as I must to leave the competition in the dust.”
“So you’re totally writing songs with Tom now, eh?” asked Sarah.
“Yeah, it’s pretty fun,” smiled Cerise, relaxing again.
As she kept talking to Sarah, Terry gently nudged her off his lap, getting up to join Townsend, Karine and Janice. He brought up the topic of summer jobs and said the thing about twenty perfect effort yielding eighty percent result, totally impressing them all with his genius.