The most wonderful time of year. Except if you’re a freelancer writer who has not had a good year and then you have to pick up any and every ridiculous holiday job in the hopes of paying rent in the New Year.
Need an elf? I’m your gal. Need someone to sit and wrap presents in the creepy back room of a giant posh department store? Sign me up. But the one I get the most and the one I hate the most – is being a cater waiter. Traipsing around London, from one overpriced massive house to the next, desperately trying to dig clean “festive” black clothes out of your closet. (Are black clothes ever festive?!). The endless emails: “Look nice. But not too nice. Not too sexy. Not too personality filled.” Basically, be a nice looking, glittery, but not too glittery thing filled with Christmas cheer who looks pleasing passing a canape but is on the whole unforgettable and silent. A Merry Christmas too all!
December 23rd. 6:30pm. Somewhere in Hampstead that truly doesn’t look like London, but allegedly is.
I arrive at a giant, and I mean giant mansion. Like…big enough that I think there might be a pool. Which is insane. Because this is London. London, England, where it is maybe warm enough to swim outdoors two weeks of the year. But I digress. I go to the door. I bell. An incredibly made-up woman finally answers the door, irritated. Her curlers shake as she tells me off.
“You’re meant to use the backdoor.”
“That way!!” She gesticulates wildly into the dark of her wrap-around garden.
I stomp down the stairs and just as I’m about to venture onto the surely muddy lawn, a woman who can only be described as personality-full appears on the front walk. She drags on her cigarette and stares. The lady of the house, curlers jiggling wildly, shrieks.
“No smoking!” She gestures again furiously towards the garden, and I guess wherever the back door is, and slams the door. Christmas cheer, indeed.
The personality-full woman, with her short light pink hair and bright lips stubs out her cigarette and smirks. I smile back.
We trudge through the garden, and I don’t know if there was a pool, but there was a water feature big enough to be a pool. Neither of us said a word.
We found the backdoor only thanks to the glaring security lights that flicked on. We both headed for the three steps leading up to it at the same time. She smirked again, bowed slightly and said, after you. I brushed past her up the stairs. She smelled incredible. I whipped around, conscious of how cookie cutter I looked with my blonde curls.
“I’m Stephanie, by the way”
We shook hands. My insides fizzed.