Big Boned
Page 4

 Meg Cabot

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Tad smiles. “Not exactly. And actually… Forget I said anything. I want to ask you when the timing’s right. And right now, the timing is definitely… not… right.”
The timing was perfectly right, if you asked me. Just not for anything other than… well. Good clean fun.
Still, I couldn’t help feeling a little bit flustered. What on earth could Tad want to ask me—but only when the timing’s right—that would require me taking a significant amount of time off from work this summer?
Hmmm… what… no…
No. Definitely. Not. Not that. It couldn’t be. We’d only been dating for twelve weeks!
On the other hand… I did go running with him this morning. If that’s not a sign of commitment, I don’t know what is.
Still, it’s the little things that count most in life. It really is.
Looking back, it’s funny (strange funny. Not ha ha funny) that at the exact moment I was thinking this, my new boss was taking his first sip of morning coffee…
And dying.
You’re not fat
Just need to get in shape
Don’t measure success
With measuring tape
“Big Boned”
Written by Heather Wells
I’m feeling pretty good about things as I’m heading back toward my office after breakfast. Yeah, okay, Pete, the security guard, snickered at my elaborately casual good-bye to Tad as he left the building—me: “See ya.” Tad: “Later.” I guess a few New York College employees might be on to us by now. Certainly Magda, when she saw that both my hair and Tad’s was still damp (I have to remember to buy a hair dryer to keep at his place, along with the change of clothes I’ve been stashing in the single bottom drawer he so generously allows me to use), could not seem to be able to repress a smirk.
But whatever. It’s not like they’re going to tell anyone. Although maybe we should be more careful about breakfasting in the residence hall. What if another one of Tad’s students should happen to show up there one morning, and see us sharing a grapefruit half? That would be pretty hard to explain away as a private tutoring session.
The one person I definitely have to be careful around, where Tad is concerned, is my new boss, Dr. Owen Veatch (PhD). Owen was transferred from his position as ombudsman to the president’s office to interim director of Fischer Hall, while a countrywide search is being conducted in order to find a suitable permanent replacement for Tom, my last boss, who got a promotion.
You wouldn’t think it would turn out to be so hard to find someone to run a seven-hundred-bed residence hall in exchange for thirty grand a year and free housing in Greenwich Village, which has some of the highest rents in the country.
But when there’ve been several murders in that residence hall over the course of a mere nine months, garnering that building the nickname Death Dorm, you’d be surprised how few candidates express a willingness to work there.
It’s a shame, because Fischer Hall is actually a kick-ass building. It’s one of the biggest on Washington Square Park, and still maintains a lot of its mid-nineteenth-century grandeur, with its marble floors and fire-placed lounges. I mean, aside from the fact that most of the rooms have been carved up into double-triples (two bedrooms adjoined by a bathroom, with three residents in each room, making for a total of six students sharing one toilet), and the other day I found human waste (of the scatological variety) in one of the ornately carved mahogany phone booths in the lobby.
I can’t imagine why every higher ed grad in the country isn’t clamoring for the position.
Anyway, in the meantime, we’re saddled with Owen, who’s totally nice and all, but super old school. Like, he wears a suit to work every day. In a place where people poop in phone booths. Go figure.
And he’s way strict about following college guidelines for every little thing. Like, he actually said something to me when we ran out of the paper for the photocopier, and I sent our graduate assistant, Sarah, down the hall to borrow some from the dining hall office. Owen was all “Heather, I do hope you don’t make a habit of borrowing supplies from other offices. Part of your job is to make sure our office is at all times fully stocked with the items we need.”
Um. Okay.
Plus, Owen’s way involved in the current campus brouhaha involving the graduate student workers unionizing in order to protest cuts in their pay and medical benefits packages. He’s supposed to be acting liaison between the students and the president’s office—which basically means that half the time he’s in his office in the residence hall, he’s arguing over school policy with angry graduate students who don’t even live here.
So you can see why I’m extra careful to keep my relationship with Tad on the down low, with Owen around.
Which is a shame, because Tad’s really helped me to become a better employee. Not only do I make fewer math mistakes when I’m calculating payroll these days, but I’m always a few minutes early to work on the mornings after I’ve spent the night at Tad’s, because Tad’s college-subsidized studio apartment is a block closer to Fischer Hall than Cooper’s brownstone. My best friend Patty wants to know how I managed to find and hook up with the one man who lives closer to my place of employment than I do, and just how large a part this played in my decision to pursue him romantically.
My best friend Patty is surprisingly cynical, for a happily married young mother.
The morning of my first training session—and possible prelude to a marriage proposal—with Tad, I actually managed to get to the hall director’s office before Owen, which is quite a feat. I’d been starting to wonder if maybe my new interim boss lives in the office, since he never seems to leave it.
I’m not the only one who’s surprised to find the office door still closed and locked that morning. A resident, whom I recognize as spring semester transfer student Jamie Price, blond, broad-shouldered, and blue-eyed, scrambles up from the institutional-style couch that sits outside my office, looking anxious.
“Hi?” Jamie’s one of those girls who ends almost every single statement with a question mark, even when it isn’t a question. “I had an appointment? With Dr. Veatch? For eight-thirty? But he isn’t here? I knocked?”
“He’s probably just running a little late,” I say, taking my keys out from the pocket of my backpack. I always carry a backpack, and not a purse, because backpacks are roomy enough to fit all my makeup, hairstyling equipment, spare changes of underwear, etcetera, which has never come in handier more than now that I’m splitting my time between my apartment and my remedial math assistant professor’s place. I just need to remember to buy a travel hair dryer. I’ve kind of got the living-on-the-go thing down. Well, I should, considering how many years I spent on the road, living out of a suitcase with my mom, doing the teen-pop-star-singing-sensation mall-tour thing (no stage was too small for Heather Wells!), slowly moving my way up to bigger venues, like state fairs, until I reached that pinnacle of success, opening for the boy band Easy Street, where I met the then love of my life, Jordan Cartwright, whose father signed me to the mega record deal that made Heather Wells a household name…