"Oh the things I would do,
If I had a little money
It's a rich man's world."
-ABBA "Money Money Money"
“But Mo-om,” Chip whined. “You promised!”
“I know, Chip,” Allie said, picking up another cream puff from the platter before her. “But that was before we got an order for 500 profiteroles for this wedding.” She punctured the bottom of the cream puff with the tip and carefully filled it with pastry cream.
“I was really looking forward to going,” he pouted.
“With how much this couple is paying, we could all go to the zoo every week for a month.” Allie licked a stray drop of filling from her finger and set the filled cream puff on a tray.
Chip decided to go for another angle. “It’s free admission day at the Central Park zoo. Not sure if I mentioned that.” He looked at her expectantly.
“And I told you, I’d love to go, but I have work to do.” Allie brandished the piping bag at him. She wiped her hands on her apron, which was smeared with flour and the occasional fleck of chocolate. “Unless you want to help me fill these faster.” She raised an eyebrow in amusement.
“Uh, that’s okay…think I’ll see if any of my friends want to play ball.” Chip tripped over his feet as he hurried frantically out of the room.
“That’s what I thought,” Allie called after him. “Don’t go too far!”
He didn’t hear her though; he had already run out the door, slamming it shut behind him.
Allie let out a small chuckle. Chip was a good kid, but he was still a kid. He would never give up a sunny Saturday that could be spent outdoors to help her around the kitchen. Even if said work was what was paying their bills each month. Biting her lip, she focused on the cream puffs, making sure not to overfill them. No one wanted exploding cream puffs.
Having filled one tray, she set it aside and pulled another in front of her. How many had she done? She scrunched her forehead, counting one, two, three, four…
“Whatcha doing there, Al?” She hadn’t even heard Kate enter the room. “I know you’re probably sick of those cream puffs already, but you can’t stare them away.”
“If only,” Allie replied dryly. “I’ve been working all morning, and I still only have 200 done.” She exhaled tiredly, blowing an errant tendril of hair out of her face. “How am I going to get these all done before the afternoon? And who has an afternoon wedding anyway?”
“I agree, it’s tacky, but right now let’s focus on getting this done. Here, I’ll help you.” Kate scrounged up another piping bag and spooned a big glob of cream into it.
“Careful, don’t spill it; I don’t have any more,” Allie warned, stuffing one cream puff after another and arranging the filled ones in neat rows.
“You got it, boss.” Kate saluted, picking up a cream puff. “Tell me again why we agreed to this?”
“Because in exchange we get a piece of paper with three beautiful numbers and our names on it,” Allie stated, realizing she was gnawing on her lip. She stilled, taking a second to breathe.
“Right.” Kate didn’t work nearly as quickly as Allie. At least her cream puffs were staying intact. “It better be worth it.”
“I think the landlady would confirm that it is. Careful!” Allie snatched a cream puff on the verge of bursting from Kate. “Like this,” she instructed, guiding her hands so Kate could feel the difference.
Kate copied her actions. “Better?” She held up a new cream puff, with only a small white dot indicating where it had been filled.
“Yes, much.” Allie sighed, frustrated. “I feel so bad…I promised Chip we could go to the zoo today. But then-“
“Then we got this call out of nowhere and it was too good an opportunity to pass up,” Kate finished her sentence. “Don’t beat yourself up over it. What were we supposed to do, say no to hundreds of dollars?”
“When you put it like that…” Allie replied doubtfully. “But what kind of lesson am I teaching my son if I break promises for a quick buck?”
“Nothing quick about this, believe me,” Kate muttered under her breath. “Look, it’s not like you blew off your plans for something silly. You had to work. He understands, Allie.”
“I know, but I wish he didn’t have to. Most parents spend the weekends with their children.”
“Most parents aren’t running a business out of their home,” Kate pointed out. “Welcome to the life of an entrepreneur.”
“Why couldn’t I just get a nice office job and answer phones?” Allie wondered.
“Because then you’d be dealing with morons all day. And while I generally find your sarcasm delightful, I’m not so sure your boss would.”
Allie stuck out her tongue in response. “I hate that you’re right.”
Kate shrugged. “I had an office job for years, remember? This is way better. The pay isn’t steady, but at least I’m my own boss and don’t have to put up with being asked to do stupid things.”
“Except making a gazillion profiteroles,” Allie grumbled. “I wish I hadn’t agreed to this.”
“Oh, then we could go to the zoo every day!” Kate exclaimed brightly.
Allie looked at her, baffled.
“It’d be real close too, because we’d be living in Central Park,” she clarified.
“Point taken.” Allie raised her hands in defeat. “Okay, looks like we’re halfway there.”
“Wanna play a game?” Kate asked, passing cream puffs from one tray to another in an easy rhythm. “You know, to make the time go faster?”
“Sure, what did you have in mind?”
“If you had a million dollars, what would you do?”
Allie sighed wistfully, her face taking on a dreamy expression. “You mean aside from telling this couple exactly where they can stick their cream puffs?”
Kate laughed. “Yes. Come on. You have a million dollars. The world is your oyster. What would you do?”
Allie chewed her lip thoughtfully. “Well…after I buy a house and put aside money for the kids to go to college, I’d go to France. I’d see all the touristy things, drink fantastic wine, eat fantastic food, and come back covered in Chanel.” She mimed spritzing perfume in the air and walked through the imaginary cloud. “Clothing and perfume.”
“What about you? What would you do?” Allie prompted.
“Once I get Emma on her feet, I think I’d go to Brazil.” A contented smile spread across her face.
“Like, to Carnival?” Allie asked, confused.
“Why not? After all these years of struggling, I think I’ve earned a good party.” Kate shrugged. “Just some sun, beaches, and no responsibilities.”
“And cute Brazilian men?” Allie teased.
“Oh, of course! There’s no point in going otherwise!”
“Naturally. So what else would you do?”
“Hmm…” Kate mused. “Once I get bored of Brazil, I’d probably come back to New York. It is the greatest city in the world.”
“Absolutely,” Allie agreed.
“And,” Kate continued, “I’d finally get myself a fur coat like the one we found at that restaurant.”
“You’re never going to get over that, are you?” Allie asked, shaking her head in mock disappointment.
“I’ll get you one too.”
“That I can live with.” Allie exhaled, putting aside another finished tray. “I’m not sure what else I’d do. Just thinking about it is a lot. How do rich people do it?”
“I’m sure they find a way. Good thing neither of us have to worry about it,” Kate commented.
“Yeah…” Allie trailed off sadly. “It’s not an issue either of us will be dealing with anytime soon.”
“Well, I’m not losing hope,” Kate declared. “Who knows, maybe one of these days the business will take off and we’ll be catering for celebrities.” She gazed into the distance, her eyes taking on a glazed appearance. “Rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, jet setting around the world…”
“You really think they’d invite us to cater around the world?” Allie sounded skeptical.
“It’s a fantasy, Allie; play along.”
“Okay then…we make enough money to move out of this apartment and into a house just outside the city. Somewhere with a yard, so the kids can have a dog,” Allie imagined.
“We’d still be living together?”
“At this point, I’m too used to having you around,” Allie admitted. “But if you want separate houses, I’m sure we could arrange that.”
“No, I’m okay with this plan. What else?”
“We’d be able to turn down ridiculous gigs and set hours for ourselves. No more working weekend after weekend. I could spend quality time with my children instead of slaving away in the kitchen.” Allie gave the cream puffs a dirty look.
“Speaking of which, are we almost done yet?”
“Almost…” Allie did a quick tally. “One more tray should do it.”
“The things we do for money,” Kate remarked.
“Could be a lot worse.” Allie shot her a dark look. “Come on, let’s get these in the fridge. Maybe we could still salvage the afternoon with Chip.”
“I’ll go call him back in,” Kate offered. “There’s still a good few hours for him to gawk at giraffes.”
Allie smiled gratefully. “It’s not so bad, right?” She asked hesitantly. “Working like this, I mean.”
“Are you kidding?” Kate sounded incredulous. “We’re running our own business. Sure, we may not be rolling in dough- the metaphorical kind,” she amended after Allie gestured to her apron, “but we’ve got a good roof over our heads and have managed to keep all five of us clothed and fed. I think we’re doing pretty good. Now come on; we gotta get a move on if we want to get to the zoo!”