Friday, 29 July 2011


No Strings Attached
3 weeks later
I remember that next morning after The Incident (Yes – I named the situation so that I would not have to speak of his name), I had been so reluctant to go to Cottage for breakfast. The last thing I had wanted to do was see Eric. The situation would have been so awkward I wouldn’t even know where to look let alone what to say. But I decided, I could not do this for the rest of the year. Though he was a senior, this was the middle of the Spring Semester. I couldn’t keep avoiding him – not to mention the kind of money I was forking out to have my meals at Cottage. And I also really loved the food as well as the people (minus Voldemort – I named him that because he was after all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named).
So I had dragged my ass out back to The Street to go have breakfast. My stomach had growled for yogurt and the amazing granola that Cottage had, so I had to, as Tommy liked to say, suck it up. I remember there weren’t that many people there that day, but Alana, who indeed turned out to be a good friend and hilarious dining buddy, was drinking her orange juice and eating her oatmeal. I had kept my eyes firmly on the ground and did not look around. But Voldemort didn’t turn up all morning, so I had been able to relax a little, and enjoy my yogurt.
You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you I didn’t see Eric around much, but it appeared that the angels were shining down on me, and Lady Luck was on my side, because over the course of the 3 weeks after The Incident, I only saw Voldemort at the mandatory Cottage meetings (which were totally easy to avoid eye contact because there were so many people crowded around all the time that you just had to sit at the back to not be seen) and during some dinner times. It had not escaped my notice that Voldemort was persistently avoiding me more than I was avoiding him, because he had changed his dinner schedule. We used to come in at around 7pm for dinner, but recently when I would come in with Alana for dinner, I would either not see him the entire time, or just manage to see him sneak out at around 7:05pm.  Well, kudos to him for at least having the decency to cater to me. Not that I had forgiven him.
So when I walked in at 7pm today to meet Alana and a few other sophomores we knew in a Calculus class for dinner as usual, it was really weird that Eric was still getting his food. My first thought was, “Oh no!” But my second thought immediately followed with a “Oh no, he didn’t!”I had just about erased him from the forefront of my memory, so it caught me off guard to see him having dinner at the same time as me. I tried to hide for a bit, and I believe I was quite successful. I managed to get a cheese quesadilla and some fries for myself, and was eating quietly next to a friend called Reed, who was telling us how wasted he got with his girlfriend over the weekend. People tended to take my silence as interest or approval, so they liked to indulge themselves by telling me too much information. Not that I was eavesdropping, but I couldn’t help sneaking looks at Voldemort, who was talking (or more like listening) to a small girl with bouncy curly hair and the booty of Kim Kardashian. She was wearing a Juicy velour sweater over a deep V camisole which displayed her assets in a very admirable well. I was surprised Voldemort wasn’t trying harder to tap that – I mean, while she didn’t look his type, she was still pretty hot.
It was a completely lame Twilight moment when he looked up at saw me staring at him. My eyes widened and I looked away. I started re-tying the ribbon laces of my Betsey Johnson Women's Drrew-G Oxfords that I had gotten off Amazon last month as a gift from my Mother, who felt bad for not showing up for Parents’ Weekend (I’ll give you one guess where my materialistic side comes from). Whilst retying my left shoe, I saw a pair of leather Ferragamos step in my line of sight. I looked up and of course, it was Voldemort. He smiled and said, “Hi Priscilla, how are you?” I must have looked at him like he was speaking Parseltongue, because his usually winning smile faltered and his eyes drooped. Aww.
NO. Not cute.
“Hi.” I said simply. No way was I wasting words with him. He replied, “Can we talk? Please?” He looked around, and continued, “I really just need to explain myself. Can you just give me a minute?”
HAH. I’d like to see him explain his way out of this one. But as usual, I was all talk and no walk, so I couldn’t say no to him. I shrugged and said, “Well, talk.” He gestured another room behind me, for privacy. So I followed him to the storage unit, and sat down on an old plastic chair. It sounds sketchier than it really is – it wasn’t too bad. We kept some supplies in there, and I had been there before, so it wasn’t a place where murders happened or anything.
He began talking. “I know I’ve been avoiding you all these weeks, but I’m sorry. I couldn’t face you. Not after what happened...” he trailed off, but I stayed silent. I didn’t know what to say. “But I wanted to apologize to you, and let you know that I was just trying to help my brother. He was... he was having problems. He was getting very stressed about his college apps, and I wanted to just make him feel better. I wanted to find out if he had gotten into Princeton or not.” He rubbed his hands together and sighed one of the saddest sighs I have ever heard.
“I know it was wrong. I didn’t want to do it, but I felt like I had to. And you came along and I thought it was a sign I should find out for Alan. “ I remained silent and kept watching him. “I am so ashamed of myself. I couldn’t even look at you without wanting to leave the room. I’m so sorry,” he apologized.
“Oh.” I said. I know, so succinct. “You lied to me, Eric.” I gasped inwardly. First time  I had said his name in 3 weeks.
“I know. I wish I could turn back time, because I want to. I wouldn’t have ruined our friendship.” He ran his hand over his hair in such a stressed out way, but still managed to look incredibly attractive. Like Brad Pitt when he finds out Angelina Jolie is a spy too, in Mr and Mrs Smith. “But I wanted to tell you that my brother chose not to go to Princeton. They waitlisted him, but he’s decided to drop it and just enrol at Penn. He said he never wanted to become a politician or a biologist like my parents wanted. He’s going to Wharton to do finance. Go figure.” He shook his head. “I wouldn’t have made a difference anyway. I was just more nervous than he was, I guess.” He sighed and looked at me remorsefully. I know sorry isn’t enough, but it’s all I could think of. I hope you’ll forgive me one day.”
And before I could say anything, he walked over to me and reached out his hand, as if he was about to brush my hair away from my face. It was a surprisingly romantic gesture, but I stood firmly on my ground. I could forgive him, but I could not forget. He pulled back and smiled sadly. He said, “Goodbye Priscilla. I hope you find the love and integrity that Cottage epitomizes, which I took for granted.” With that, he looked at me one more time and walked out of the room. I could pretend like my life was a movie and that he left Princeton in such remorse, never to be seen again. But of course, my life was more real than reality TV, so I still saw Eric (I stopped calling him Voldemort – I just didn’t have the heart anymore) here and there, but we never spoke again.
Finals were dawning upon us anyway (about 1 month away), and the weather was getting a little warmer. I really wanted to visit my friend down at Penn for Spring Fling, which she claimed was the best time of the year to visit her in Philly. Apparently it was a weekend of booze, beats and boys. So why the hell not?
Not that I was interested in seeing other guys. I realized I was starting to feel nervous around Tommy, and begun caring about how my hair and makeup looked around him. It was really annoying, because this added another unnecessary yet interesting aspect into my life. He started to change a little around me too. Sometimes I caught him looking at me a little longer than he should, and begun greeting me with a kiss on the cheek – something so preppy and formal that it was very un-Tommy. I don’t think either of us wanted to jeopardize our friendship yet, so we’ll see how long we can hold off.
Maybe a weekend at Penn is just what I need. Maybe The City of Brotherly Love can teach me a little bit about its namesake.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Priscila Tonman X

Inglourious Basterds
It must have been only a few minutes, but it felt like the entire incident took hours. I took a deep breath and looked at the application one last time. It was crinkled now, and I was worried someone was going to notice. But what could I do? I tried to straighten it out, knowing it was futile. I placed it back in the pile (it was behind Annie Wilcox and in front of Terry Williamson), and locked the office door behind me as quietly as I could. My heart began speeding up again, because the hall was even more silent and darker than before. The sun had completely set by now, and when I opened the building’s door, two feelings flooded over me. Relief and disappointment. Relief because I had gotten out of there without getting caught, and disappointment because I had really liked and admired Eric. He was everything a girl wanted, and everything a guy wanted to be. Intelligent, handsome, kind (on the surface at least) and a leader. Every single member of Cottage loved Eric, and things always seemed more fun, less stress when he was around. And the way he always looked at you like you were the only person in the world at that moment was, well to say the least, dreamy. I don’t think I could ever look at him the same way again.  
I kept running the scene in my head over and over again. I kept trying to think of reasons why Eric should be forgiven. But it all just kept adding up to the fact that he a) tried to break a law (and not just Princeton’s rules, but I’m pretty sure an American law) b) betrayed and lied to me. Ok, I always had a tendency to be dramatic, and maybe I am exaggerating, but I was going to wallow in self pity as every girl has a right to. I put on my favorite song ever, Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone, and sung to my heart’s content. I wish I could say I sung as loudly as I could, but I didn’t. If I did, someone would be bound to come knocking and ask me to shut it.
I went on Facebook, hoping to talk to some of my friends who weren’t at Princeton, so that I could complain about what bastards Princeton guys could be (total generalization, and untrue…half the time) when the second thing on my newsfeed was Tommy’s status. It read, “Looking forward to tonight! Long time since Mr. Moscato and I were reunited.” Mr. Moscato! I looked at the time on my laptop and it said 7:12pm. I was already 12 minutes late to Tommy’s!  I glanced at my mirror and gasped. I looked horrible. My hair was all over the place, and my makeup was smeared from the number of times I rubbed my eyes. I quickly used Lancome Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover to eliminate the eyeliner that had smudged all around my eyes. Note to self: do not buy cheap eyeliner again. I applied some Elizabeth Arden cream to my face and instantly felt better. This stuff was potent – and a beauty secret that was passed onto my by my mother, who got it from Grandmother, who swears by it. I think it works too, because Grandmama was already 72 years old, and looked as regal as Helen Mirren did in The Queen. It has turned my frazzled or hungover face to delightful freshness more times than I can count now.
I took out the Barefoot Moscato out of my minifridge and put it in my fuschia Longchamp tote. I put a cardigan around the bottle too, because naturally, as a 19 year old, alcohol is sadly illegal for me. As I left my room, I texted Tommy to let him know I was late and coming. I almost half ran there, I was walking so fast. My shins began to ache, but it was already 7:21 by then. I reached The Street and walked briskly past Cottage and straight to Tiger Inn, where Tommy had been waiting for the past half an hour. Tiger Inn was a beautiful mansion with two large clovers on the front of it, and looked like a house straight from Amsterdam. It always looked like a classy yet cosy place to be in, and I was a little excited to be able to see it again. I’d gone in a few times with Tommy, but it was crammed with drunk people (as with all other eating club parties)so I didn’t get to appreciate it so much.
I knocked on the large door, and for a second, felt like Little Red Riding Hood knocking on Grandma’s door (yes, the door was that scary). A guy I recognized as Tiger Inn’s Alcohol Chair (and before you laugh or cringe, Tommy told me they had two of these positions) opened the door and said, “Hi, what’s up?”


I replied, “I am looking for Tommy? Is he in?” I looked past him. He stepped back and let me in, and said, “Oh so you’re the girl he’s always fussing over. Hm…didn’t take you for his type.” He smirked and walked back to another room, where it sounded like there was a TV on. “Well, hello! Where is Tommy?” I asked after him. Jerk. I looked around, and I saw Tommy’s head poke out from the corner of the room. He walked out and folded his arms. Uh oh, that was a look I’ve seen on Tommy several times. It was when he was really annoyed.
“You’re half an hour late, Pris,” he said. I walked over to him and said pleadingly, “I know, I’m so sorry. You won’t believe what happened to me.” I pulled out the wine, and shuffled on my feet. “I brought Mr. Moscato as well! I’ll tell you what happened, I promise.” I looked down on the ground, half ashamed, half worried. Tommy sighed and took the wine out of my hands and groaned reluctantly. “Fine, but this better be good, because the chicken chops I made us are already cold, and I’m pretty sure the salad has begun to wilt.” I looked up and gave him my most winning smiles, and he shook his head, half disgusted at himself for forgiving again, half bemused at me. Story of our relationship. “Come on then!”
We went to a living room area, and the food was already there, set up very nicely. It looked almost like a restaurant, and when we both sat down, it suddenly felt awkward. This was like a date. I looked up at Tommy, and he was fussing over the salad, making sure it was tossed right. Not knowing what to do, I opened the wine and began telling him what happened with Eric this evening. Throughout the whole time, he hardly spoke, and didn’t touched his food. He just listened to what had happened, and his eyebrows kept shooting up. When I finished, he took a huge swig of the wine, and said bitterly, “That man is mental.” I nodded, “I know. I just don’t know what to do now. How am I supposed to avoid him? I see him every day! Three times a day!” I had dinner with Eric quite often, and though it was just the two of us, it would be so obvious to our group of friends when we would suddenly sit on the opposite ends of each other (instead of next to each other) and not speak to each other (as opposed to the usual, where we would poke fun of each other all night).
“You should turn him in,” Tommy said. “You have to. He broke a law!”
“But there’s no evidence, and besides, I think I broke the law, not him. I was the one who saw his brother’s application, he didn’t even get to touch it.” I replied. Believe me, the thought had crossed my mind. Tommy nodded, and sighed. He picked up his fork and looked at me intensely and said, “Fine, you’re right, but I hope you’re not forgiving him. Just because you two were…” he trailed off and started picking at his chicken chop. “He and I were what?” I asked sharply. Here we go again.
“You know, very close.” he muttered. Tommy looked up. “Didn’t you like him?”
Now it was my turn to start picking at the food. I tucked a piece of my hair behind my ears and said, “I think I liked the idea of him. He seemed so…charming. So cool, you know? I thought he was a good friend and person. I guess I couldn’t be more wrong. Stupid, huh?”
“I don’t think you’re stupid, Priscilla. A little na├»ve sometimes, but not stupid. Sometimes what you need and what you want is the same thing, and sometimes it’s right in front of you.” he said. I looked up, frowning a little, because I knew he was hinting at something. “Anyway, how’s the food?” So glad to be over that subject, I was more than happy to start eating. Again, I hadn’t realized I was hungry till now. I cut off a large piece of chicken and put it in my mouth. It was soft yet juicy.
“Amazing, just the way I like it.” I replied. And for some reason, Bruno Mars’ song “Just The Way You Are” came to mind. I laughed to myself and complimented Tommy’s culinary skills. I couldn’t believe I was pining over some other guy when this one in front of me was more than I needed. What other guy would cook for you? Kelly Clarkson was so right: I can breathe for the first time, and I’m so moving on!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Priscilla Tonman IX

The Devil Wears Prada
The evening was starting to get a little chilly, and I wrapped my coat a little tighter around my waist. We walked by a couple holding hands, both wearing Princeton apparel, and both looking tired, but content. I looked over to Eric, and he was not paying attention to anything else but the ground. He was walking at a very un-Eric like speed too; I had to really walk briskly to catch up with him. What was with all this rush? I doubted anyone would be in the office now anyway.
I felt my phone buzz, and I took it out of my coat and answered. “Hey, it’s me,” Tommy’s voice resonated in my ear. “Where are you?”
“I am uh…with Eric right now.” I replied, for a lack of a better answer. It was too long of a story to even begin to explain. Eric looked up, with a look of sheer panic in his eyes. He started shaking his head, signaling to me to tell Tommy he was not there. Uhm, too late?
“What? You’re at his place?” Tommy uttered, sounding half way between disgusted and shock. “I thought we were having dinner at mine!”
Crap. I had completely forgotten about dinner tonight. Tommy even suggested he cook, just to prove to me Tiger Inn was still a better eating club than Cottage. He meant it jokingly of course, and I was so happy Tommy was back to his old self again. He had just started to forgive me (or at least forget) and now I had gone and blown it.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry Tommy. I was doing homework, and I realized I uh, had to uh, help Eric with something, and I completely spaced. This is my fault, I’m so sorry. Can I join you later? I’ll be done soon.” I apologized. I bit my lip; I felt so wrapped up in guilt.
Silence for two seconds. “Well…how long are you going to be?” Tommy asked carefully.
“I think less than half an hour; listen I’ll make it up to you. I’ll bring some Moscato alright?” I had some Moscato white wine in my mini-fridge left, and I knew Tommy always appreciated a drink. I owed him that much at least. While I was crossing my fingers, Tommy sighed and said, “Oh, Priscilla. You can't bribe me with alcohol every time you know. As much as I love Mr. Moscato or Senor Patron, I’d rather hang out with you more.”
“I know, and you will! I’ll be there at 7. Promise. With Mr. Moscato.” I breathed a silent sigh of relief. “See you soon!” I squealed, my voice going a little too high from the anxiety
“Alright, bye.” Tommy hung up.
People always told me that women were multi-taskers, and that men were unable to do two different things at once. Well, clearly, I would be a better man, because while I was on the phone, I had not been paying attention to Eric at all. Now that I looked back at him, he was looking even worse than before. He kept checking his steel Prada watch. His eyes were now positively sad, and I thought I saw a bead of sweat on his temple.
“Hey, are you okay? What’s wrong with you?” I asked him.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Let’s just get this over and done with.” he replied curtly. Ooook, Mr. PMS. In case you didn’t notice, I’m postponing dinner because of your sorry ass.
We walked in silence for the next two minutes, and I took the opportunity to check my email on my iPhone. There were a few university spams about cheap textbooks (an oxymoron) and the International Students’ Association was offering tickets to the latest Harry Potter movie. Woah, I’d better hope on that – I love Harry Potter. Their world was way more interesting that ours would ever be.
We arrived at the brown, colonial looking building. The light was dimmed down by now, and there was no one in sight. I pulled the heavy brown door open, and Eric followed me inside. I took a left and the stairs up, walking to the office when I worked at part time, sorting out applications from over-achieving, over-eager and over-whelmed high school students as well as applications from the much calmer and yet more accomplished graduate students. It wasn’t the most exciting job you could ask for, but $10.50 an hour was not too shabby, and reading some of the applicants’ resumes and cover letters was sometimes a hoot, and sometimes just plain dumb. Whoever thought “Butterfly watching club founder” was a good idea is just not going to get that internship.
I took out my keys, and Eric began breathing down my neck as I tried to open the door. Literally. Because he was about 6’ 5”, I could actually feel his breath tickling my hair. Not impressed with his impatience.
“Patience is a virtue, Eric, which you do not have,” I grumbled. He stepped back and sighed, “I’m sorry, I’m just....” He stopped talking when we both heard the click in the door knob. I turned the worn, once-gold door knob and we stepped into the silent hall way. There was only one line of lights still turned on. We looked around for any sign of people, but it appeared we were the only ones.
Click, click, click. I could hear my one year old, pink BCBGeneration Evie Pumps clicking on the ancient but well maintained floors. Kudos to the Princeton maintenance crew – I have to admit, we never saw more than one person wiping floors or windows, and yet the classrooms and hallways were always very clean. I cringed at the sound I was making, and tried to walk on tip toes, but for any lady (or gentleman, I guess) who has tried to walk on tip toes in 4 inch heels know it’s bound to be an epic fail. So I stopped, and took off my heels.
Eric, meanwhile, did not notice at all, and just strode right to the Admissions Office. He was absolutely a man on a mission. I noticed his shoes didn’t make a sound at all. Jealous. I jogged barefoot to catch up to him, and pulled out my keys again. I opened the door, which creaked a little creepily (funny how this never happened in the daytime, but always seems to convenient happen when no one was around). Eric gently pushed past me and started looking around on the tables. He was pawing everything on Assistant Dean’s desk, moving around papers and envelopes. I could feel my eyes widen because honestly, I was surprised Eric had talked me into letting him essentially snoop around the Assistant Dean’s desk. What have I done?
See full size imageI turned around and walked to the other end of the room, because I really could not stand looking at Eric while he was acting less George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven (which made stealing stuff look super cool) and more like Hugh Laurie in House looking for his vicodin (not so cool). I suppose I should help him, and waste less time so that we could get out of here as soon as possible. I was so not cut out to be a criminal, I could feel my hands shaking a little bit as I began thumbing through a few manila envelopes on the Assistant Dean’s corner table. The table definitely was not from IKEA, and from the looks of it, looked older than me.
I’ve worked for the Assistant Dean for a while now, and though he was a polished man, his office told a different story. This was ridiculous, I thought, I’ll offer to clean up for him next week. The envelopes were all a bunch of Princeton applications from North East region of the US. There were at least 40 here. I was flipping them when I did a double take on one of the names. There was an Alan Williams, age 17, from Burlington, Vermont. I know Williams is a not that rare a name, but I remembered Eric saying how much he loved his hometown in Vermont. I glanced at Eric, and he was still sporting that panicked look on his face. I took out the documents from the envelope as stealthily as I could, and noted the order it came in so I wouldn’t mess up where the file was from. Alan Williams, age 17, quite well accomplished. He was a hockey player, and did well in his grades. I flipped the page and, lo and behold, I saw that he had listed an Eric Williams as his brother. Oh my, this was Eric’s little brother. I flipped to the back when I saw some scribbling on a back page. This was a comments page that the Admissions officers liked to write on for themselves as well as their colleagues when deciding on an application. I couldn’t pry my eyes away, I was so curious. In summary, Alan Williams was an average Princeton application, with nothing great to offer, but his brother being here made him sort of a legacy, which gave him points. The notes indicated that Alan Williams did not seem that interested in Princeton, and was vague in his essay. Oh dear, that’s when I saw it. He had been waitlisted.
I gasped a little, and Eric looked up. He came over and saw that I had an application in my hands. His eyebrows shot up. “Whose is that?” he demanded. I looked at him, my jaw dropped (okay, no one’s jaw actually fell to the ground like they always claim in books, but it sure felt like it was about to) but no words came out. He came over and tried to grab the application but I managed to keep most of it with me. He did manage to snatch the envelop from my hands, and he saw his brother’s name. His eyes widened and said, “What does it say?” Oh no, he did not just ask me that. “Give it to me, Pris.”
I shook my head and whispered angrily, “No. You can’t see this.” I hold the application closer to my body. “Just grab your transcripts and let’s go.” He just stood there, with nothing in his hands, looking intently at the documents I was holding. Then it hit me. Like  sudden storm that always happen just as you step out of the house. He didn’t “leave” his application or transcripts here; he wanted to check his brother’s application. How could I not have suspected this? The situation was weird from the start.
He walked to me, with a very angry look on his once handsome face. I had never seen him even remotely angry before; usually he was just annoyed. I backed up and felt the old table against my legs. I was trapped with nowhere to go. “Give it to me now, Priscilla, or I’ll…” he growled and paused.
“Or what? Eric? You don’t scare me,” I stood firmly. All lies, of course. how could I not be scared of this huge male who looked like he could club me and knock me out with one hit. “You wouldn’t dare hurt me!” I challenged.
He looked even scarier for a split second, then his eyes softened and his mouth drooped. He unclenched his fists (which I hadn’t even realized were in ‘fight’ position) and said, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I…” he looked up at me with such a remorseful expression. “I just needed to know if Alan…”
“You used me to check if your brother had gotten into Princeton?” I spitted out. It was so hard not to smack him over the head and yell at him out right. Who the hell does this guy think he is? “I can’t believe you lied to me, Eric. But most of all, I can’t believe you are so willing to jeopardize the integrity of this school!” I all but shrieked that last line. This was so insulting. Princeton prided itself on having honorable (albeit sometimes elitist) beliefs, especially regarding academia; but what pissed me off even more was that Eric preached to us at Cottage all the time about family, tradition and honor. I had thought he was the perfect, charming leader that every organization needed, but here in front of me, he was so pathetic. I couldn’t even bring it out in me to explain my anger to him - he was so not worth it.
He stayed silent, and reached out a hand to try and express his sincerity I suppose, but I side stepped him, and said, “Don’t touch me, Eric. I don’t want to talk to you right now, just get out of my sight please.” I looked down at my feet.
“I’m sorry, Priscilla.” Eric whispered, and my heart felt like it was breaking. He actually sounded really sorry. What a good actor – I’d give him an Oscar for World’s Best Liar. He paused, reluctant to leave me alone, but decided it was probably better to not stay any longer. He could probably feel the quiet tension was about to break into a hysterical fit any second. He left without another word, and the door creaked behind him. I was left standing in the Assistant Dean’s office by myself, holding Alan William’s application. I could feel my energy slipping away, and my stomach cramped up in fear and exhaustion.
Whoever said curiosity killed the cat knew what they were talking about. They didn’t mention that the death could be a slow and painful one.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Priscilla Tonman VIII

The following few days were interesting, but nothing dramatic happened. I got to know a lot more Cottage members, and had a great time getting to know some sophomores I had never met before. There was such a mixed variety of students that I was surprised to find out that sometimes, the only thing I had in common with the English major from Rhode Island was that we went to Princeton and that we were now part of Cottage together.
Meal times were very pleasant of course. The renowned reputation of good food was extremely well deserved. We had a guest chef from nearby Princeton area restaurant called “Elements”, who served us some house cured mackerel and Australian wagyu tataki while he chatted to us about fine dining. It was amazing how someone who spent all day in the kitchen got enough satisfaction from a simple smile of appreciation and thank you. I couldn’t thank him enough for the leg of lamb sandwich he put in front of me at lunch on Wednesday. It was incredible. Better than Mom’s home recipe, top secret roast chicken sandwich, but what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her.
I begun hanging out at Cottage more often, and started bringing my homework there. It was easy to procrastinate there, but I was going through serious cases of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when I was in my room by myself. Status updates on facebooks like “Cottage quote of the day: “Stop playing with my fruits!” or “Deliciousness smelled in kitchen: @Michelle Sanders, stop making us fat with your buttermilk pancakes.” were saddening when I didn’t get to see these situations play out. Tommy began to stop asking me out to dinner so often, but I continued to bother him. I refused to let him just end our friendship like that. It wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be, but he tended to be quieter than usual.
The week was coming to an end, and I had dragged my feet back to my room to finish my latest math problem set for Professor Warren, and was in the middle of a multivariable calculus multiple choice (I hated multiple choice. Always got stuck between choice b) and d) and always ended up choosing the wrong one) when someone knocked on my door.

And just like that, the formula I was writing was lost.

I shrieked quietly in frustration. Interruptions like these were always unfair and annoying. I opened the door unwillingly, and saw Eric standing there in dark blue jeans and a black Hugo Boss sweater.

“Hey. Sorry, am I bothering you?” he asked, while glancing at my math books and random pieces of paper all over the desk. “Uh, guess I am. Sorry!” He had the audacity to look sheepish. “I, er, have a favor to ask of you, Priscilla.” He leaned on my door way, and looked down at his feet. Which were clad in black leather Cole Haans.
I looked at him carefully, the way Dr. Cal Lightman from Lie To Me would look at the criminals he was interrogating and profiling. He looked a little ashamed, but very determined. This look was usually not a good sign – I’ve learned that if people are willing to overlook shame for something else, it’s usually not because of a positive reason. “Oh really? What favor?” I answered cautiously. Another thing I’ve learnt from trying to be cool in junior high – never say yes too quickly.
“I have some uhm… some personal papers that I left in the Admissions office yesterday. They are in an envelope with my last name on it, and it’s in the Assistant Dean of Admissions office. I was getting some high school transcripts photocopied for a job I am applying to, and I forgot them on her desk when I went to talk to her to ask for them.” He paused, to let me process.
“Why do you need your high school transcripts?” I asked him incredulously. “Just give your employer your Princeton ones! From the Registrar?” What kind of employer wanted to know your high school grades?
“I know, I know. But I am applying to be a local high school Teaching Assistant, and they want to see my high school grades to make sure I didn’t flunk out of high school,” he said with a winning smile. His eyebrows looked furrowed a worried still. “So I was wondering if you could let me into her office and let me check where my transcripts are? You mentioned you were working at the Admissions Office?” He looked at me with a pair of puppy dog eyes. Yes, I am a woman. So yes, they were effective. So Eric was there during my interrogation at Firestone library. Curious. Very curious.
“Sure. I’ll look for you tomorrow morning when I go to my shift, and I’ll put it back,” I offered.
“No!” he abruptly said. “No! I need to put it back myself! Not that I don’t trust you, because I do,” he quickly corrected his statement. “But I don’t trust anyone else. Which is why I need to do it now. I need to put it back now.”
Now? Now was 6pm. The sky was darkening into a sinister twilight. Evening time was always my least favorite time of the day. The sun was setting and the moon wasn’t up yet, and all we were left with were streetlights still off and shadows following us. Not to mention, 6pm was time for me and Prof. Warren’s set problems to battle it out. I said this out loud to Eric. He pushed his hair back, and rubbed his temples. “Please, Pris. I wouldn’t ask you if I didn’t have to. I have sensitive information on there about…about my past. I…” he hesitated for three seconds.
Then he burst out, “I committed some petty crimes when I was high school, and I can’t let anyone see that.” He looked relieved to get it out.
Oh. Well, that was surprising. Eric looked like he always got what he wanted, whenever he wanted. He really didn’t look like a petty crimes kind of person. He obviously didn’t do drugs. Maybe he sold them? I don’t think he shop-lifted, judging from the number of branded clothing he owned. But then again, if Winona Ryder stole for fun, what stopped Eric?
This situation was all so weird, but I saw how upset he looked, and I couldn’t help but relent. I sighed loudly and deliberately. I turned back into my room, picked up my white Michael Kors coat, my iPhone and my keys. “I hope you know I’m doing this for you because I am awesome.”

He grinned, the twinkle that I loved seeing back in his beautiful eyes. “And here I thought you were doing it because I was awesome.”
I laughed. If only I had known in advance the next few hours were not going to be so awesome.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Priscilla Tonman VII

The Hangover
It was like a nightmare. You know those dreams where you are running, but your legs just refuse to move at the pace you know they can run at? Or the dreams where your teeth seem to fall out spontaneously and yet you’re only a little freaked out? That was exactly how I felt the next morning. “Wake up in the morning, feeling like P.Diddy…” I could hear Ke$ha in my head still. I refused to open my eyes because I was scared I would see something, or someone, I didn’t want. I checked if my clothes were on, and YES! I was indeed fully dressed.  I took a deep breath and opened my eyes slowly.
The first thing I saw was the optimistic sunlight pour into the room through the lightly tinted windows. The room was quiet, and unfortunately, did not look like my bedroom at all. It was Cottage. I was not the only person lying in the room either. In fact, I think about fifteen people were sprawled around the living room, looking peacefully asleep, dead, or anything in between. I got up, and had a head rush. My head was throbbing lightly, and my breath smelled like… like Vodka and Coke. Ew. I closed my eyes, and heard someone walk into the room.
“Gooood Morning!” Eric had walked in, his smile unwavering, and his hair lightly tousled. He looked only slightly more disheveled than his usual pristine image, but to the average person, he still appeared clean and sober. He was holding a cup of steaming coffee, which smelled like Starbuck’s Breakfast Blend of deliciousness. My stomach growled gently (not enough for him to hear, thank God).
“Hi there. I’m sorry, but what time is it?” I asked him, rubbing my head and massage my temples. “It’s just about 8am. I didn’t take you for such an earlier riser…” He answered, and then smiled. “Then again, I did not expect you to be a heavy drinker either, so I supposed looks are just too deceiving.”
I laughed meekly. “Thanks. I always wake up early the next day after a night of heavy drinking. It’s my body way’s of telling me that I was a fool, and it won’t let me sleep in any longer.” I sighed.
“Well, let’s grab you a cup of coffee then,” he gestured towards the kitchen. “You’ll love the caramel macchiato.” I’m not going to lie, those words made my morning. I followed him into the kitchen, and saw that he headed towards a fancy, silver coffee machine. I loved coffee, but I was never a fan of these premium coffee devices. They were so hard to clean, and so much more trouble than walking to Starbucks and saying, “Venti, please.”
He handed me an orange, Princeton mug, and I sniffed it. Then I inhaled it, and took a careful sip. Heavenly. I glanced around, and pretended not to notice Eric looking at me, with his head tilted to his left. He looked really adorable when he was deep in thought. There were some bagels and cereals laid out on the enormous wooden table, which looked like it could seat at least 10 people. I looked up at him hopefully as he said, “Please, help yourself. You are now a Cottage member.” I reached over for some Philadelphia Cream Cheese and a sesame bagel.  As I applied the cream cheese, Eric poured out some Banana Almond Crunch into a ceramic bowl (these people really live the life) and said, “So do your parents know that you’re at Cottage now?”
“Nope. I haven’t told them yet. I’m sure it won’t be a huge deal to them. They’ll just think I joined a sorority or debate club again.” I answered truthfully. My parents were both hotshots in Wall Street, far too busy to worry about their daughter joining another ‘club’. Mom worked for J.P. Morgan, and Dad worked for Goldman Sachs. Before you ask, the only conflicts of interests they ever had were over where I would had to college. She went to Yale, and he went to Harvard. Could you blame me for completing the Holy Trinity? Setting my own path and being independent, blah blah blah…
“Dues aren’t cheap. You do know that, don’t you?” he raised one eyebrow doubtfully.
“Yes, I know, but I am a research assistant, so that’ll help pay for some of the dues. I’m a big girl, I’ll handle myself,” I raised my own eyebrows, waiting for him to react.
“Excellent, then. Because the experience will be more than you pay for,” he grinned that impish smile.
That’s the way life should be, I thought, as I put the last bite of cream cheese and bagel into my mouth. More value for my money.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Priscilla Tonman VI

It turns out Laura did not get in. I was actually a little (key word being little, of course) upset that I would not be able to see her shriek if she had been forced to do something along the lines of humiliating herself to prove her worthiness and loyalty to the eating club. Speaking of which, I did what every sane person would do and Googled some key words like Cottage, Eating Clubs, Initiation. Unfortunately, the Search Engine Optimization was not working in my favour today. There honestly was not much relevant information. Just a couple of high schoolers who were eager to know how to bicker, and how initiation would be like. You and me both, buddy.
I did stumble onto an interesting thread on College Confidential which began stereotyping every single Eating Club. The writer, obviously someone who was rejected from an eating club, was very bitter. It mentioned that The Ivy Club was very preppy, (hello, this was Princeton. Not Brown, for crying out loud.  What did they expect? Hippy?) Tiger Inn members drank like no tomorrow (Tommy did have an abnormally high tolerance for anything with vodka, whiskey and tequila) and that Cottage “compromised of Southern money”. There were some rather offensive comments about how Princeton lacked diversity in general, and that Cottage epitomized it.
Woah, I wasn’t even initiated yet, and I had to admit, that hurt a little. It really didn’t seem as bad as the descriptions at all, but I did worry. It couldn’t be all lies, but it couldn’t be all truth either, right? Sure, Princeton was never going to be as diverse  as it should be, but that didn’t mean we were rascist!
I was so deep in thought and absorbed in my futile research that once again, I nearly forgot about initiation. It was 10 minutes before we were supposed to be initiated, so I ran out the door. The cool breeze hit my face, and it felt so good. I broke into a very brisk walk, and a girl carrying a bagpack larger than her upper body almost got knocked over by my inconsiderate speed. I yelled an apology, and just full out ran to Cottage.
When I got there, I was breathing heavily, and I could hear my heart pumping at cardio speed, and blood was rushing in my ears. It was one of those feelings you always read about in books but never knew what the feeling was until you felt it yourself.  At the door was a girl with beautiful,  midnight black hair and almond shaped eyes. She smiled nervously and said to me, “Hi, are you here for uh... initiation?” I replied, breathlessly, “Yes! I uh, am Priscilla. Sorry, woo! I ran here.” My heart slowed down a little.
“hi!” she said brightly. “I’m Alana Chang. Are you a sophomore?”
“Yep. Are you?” I straightened my back.
“Yeah. Do you know what’s happening tonight? I am pretty psyched, but you’ve heard the stories...”
“Oh yea, definitely. I like, even did some research on the whole process. But nada. Zip. No stories or advice off the internet.” I answered sadly.
She nodded understandingly. She looked very demure and collected. “I tried to Google it too. Nothing useful. Ah well. C’est La Vie, eh?” she grinned at me.
I was beginning to like this girl. “My thoughts exactly. Do you...”
And just as I was half way about to ask if she thought drinking would be involved, as several blogs insinuated that drunkenness was a must for initiation processes, the door opened.
Eric smiled at both of us, and said in an exaggerated, British accent, “My ladies. Your night awaits you.” He pushed the door further back, and I heard Chris Brown’s Yeah 3x was playing in the background. I loved this song! Alana and I walked in and everyone smiled at us, while giving us the once over. Suddenly, I felt a cold, glass pressed into my hand. I looked up and saw a mature looking senior, wearing a plaid, long sleeved shirt, chuckling. He said warmly, “Welcome to initiation. There’s only one rule, my dear. That is, the number of drinks you will have to intake tonight will have to match your age.” He looked at me, “Do you think you can handle this?”
I looked down at the glass. It was filled with a fizzy champagne. My favourite type of classy drinks. I didn’t feel so scared anymore. 20 drinks was a lot, but I had all night. I looked up in his dark eyes and grinned. “Bring it on, sir.” I drank the entire glass. He whooped in delight and a few people came over to pat my back. "I'm Alex,  by the way. Treasurer. And I've got my eye on you." He reached over to a person next to him and got another glass for me.
Just then, Ke$ha’s song, Blow, came on. Appropriate, I thought, and happily accepted my second drink. Long Island. Long night.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Priscilla Tonman V

Morning Glory
The next morning was a surprisingly warm one. I put on my Armani Exchange J22 Vintage Striped Denim Leggings and my favorite sweater vest from L.L.Bean, and headed towards breakfast. On the way to the door, there was yet another envelope that had been slotted in. I picked it up, and the letter said, “The University Cottage Club is proud to offer you a place at the exclusive eating club. Should you accept this place, please return the enclosed card to the President of the University Cottage Club by midnight tonight. Without the card, your membership offer is void. Welcome to the food, the family and the future!”
J22 - Light Destruction Denim LeggingI had to admit, I was ecstatic. I told myself this should not be that exciting, but it was. The prospect of being able to tell my family and friends I was accepted into the eating club was exciting. I was dying to know if Laura had gotten in, but I didn’t want to upset her more if she didn’t. I grabbed a cereal bar and decided to go straight to class. This morning was off to a good start.
After my third and final class of the day, I decided to find Eric and give him the acceptance card. I suppose this was part of the test, because if I had not met Eric, I wouldn’t have known who he was. In fact, I still didn’t know anything about him other than he was a junior. I decided to ask Tommy and ask him while I told him I got in to  Cottage. I called him, and after two rings, he picked up and chirped, “Bongiorno, my Priscila.” I laughed. “Hi Tommy, are you busy to talk?” I asked, knowing he was really busy all the time. “Never for you, dear one.” Tommy said flirtatiously. That player.
“Good, I wanted to let you know I got into Cottage, and I’m accepting.” I went straight to the point. He went silent, and I could almost feel him looking at the phone with incredulity.
“You are… accepting?” he asked, unsure he heard right.
“Yup. I mean, what have I got to lose? You know how I feel about our campus food, and I think it’d be fun!” I replied brightly. He didn’t need to be such a Debbie Downer, I had my own doubts, thank you very much.
“Oh. Well. congratulations, Pris,” he said quietly.
“Thanks Tommy. I was wondering if you knew Eric Williams? He’s the President of Cottage and he’s also a junior, so I thought I’d ask you, seeing as you know everyone,” I asked.
“Oh, I know Eric Williams,” Tommy said, sounding like he was gritting his teeth. “And no, I do not know where he is, nor do I care to know. Anyway, I can’t say this is unexpected. I gotta go. I have to work. Bye.” Tommy hung up on my abruptly. HELLO? I thought. That was just mean. I thought he’d be happy for me!
I rolled my eyes and pouted all the way to Cottage, where I thought I’d try. At least if Eric wasn’t there, someone who knew him would. I kept thinking of why Tommy was so angry. Was he mad that I wouldn’t be able to try for Tiger Inn now? Or was he mad because he hated Eric? Or maybe both?
I knocked on the door, and lo and behold, Eric opened the door. His face brightened when he saw me. Well, at least someone was happy to see me. “Priscilla! A sight for sore eyes,” he declared. “Please, come in!” He ushered me inside, and I saw a few Cottagers (was that even a term? I can't believe I am such a noob) seated around the room, reading or talking to each other.
“What can I do you for?” he smiled. He brought me to the kitchen, and I saw that the legends were true. The kitchen was huge, with all types of plates, pots and pans on the marble kitchen tops. It smelled lovely too. The refrigerator was enormous and state-of-the-art looking. It could store my whole month of food consumption in there, definitely.
Mania for Men Perfume 1.7 EDT Spray Armani Men“I have come to return the card,” I said, and pulled out the acceptance card. “Wonderful! I hope you have accepted?” he asked me simultaneously while pulling open the card. “Yes! You have! Oh, I am delighted, Priscilla,” he grabbed my hand and laughed merrily. His hair flopped adorably around his eyes. “Welcome to Cottage!” he enveloped me in a warm and gentle hug. I hugged him back, and noticed he had a fresh yet sexy, masculine cologne on. I am guessing it was Armani Mania. I loved it. I loved it almost as much as I loved Tommy’s Ralph Lauren Blue. I, of course, was the one who bought it for Tommy for Christmas.
Polo Blue Ralph Lauren for men“Tonight, we’ll begin initiation. This is going to be very, very fun,” he promised, with a hint of mischief in his eyes. He nudged me and said, “I hope you’re ready, my beautiful one. Because tonight, it will be no guts, no glory. No pain, no gain!” He laughed.
If it was called initiation, why did I feel like it was the end?