The Perfect Occasion
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By Sandra Yuen MacKay
Excitedly, I sat chatting with my friends and family around the patio table, overlooking the rose garden. Scrumptious desserts rested on the table. Mother tinkled her glass with a spoon.
“Welcome, everyone, to Susan’s twenty-first birthday party. May you all have a wonderful time and eat up!”
They all cheered and clapped. I sat grinning proudly. I was beside myself in anticipation of this perfect afternoon planned in my honour.
I paused, feeling a tingling sensation on my shoulder. A black, fuzzy spider had spun a strand down to my shoulder from the trellis above. It gingerly crawled around to the front of my neck.
Fearing it would bite me, I signaled to Lydia, urgently pointing my finger. I dared not to make a sound. My sweet, dull-witted sister Lydia attempted to brush it away. She clumsily flung her snakeskin purse across my neck. The spider sped away safely but the purse caught me square across the chin, embossing my skin with reddish diamond imprints.
My head reeled back and knocked a tray held by the servant, Alicia. She was preparing to serve tea, carrying a silver tray laden with a large china teapot, and matching sugar bowl and creamer. The teapot slid off the tray, tumbled across the table, and landed in mother’s lap. Tea splashed on mother’s aquiline nose. The guests looked aghast as the tray wiped out the Royal Doulton cups and saucers stacked on the table. They smashed to smithereens on the ground with a loud crash like a baseball through a window.
My nine year-old niece, Jessie, tried to catch the tray as the bewildered Alicia turned again. The sugar bowl and the creamer on the tray slid and hit her in the jaw. She sputtered as half and half splashed on her face. She burst into tears.
I turned to her, accidentally upsetting the orange cookies and lemon squares. My aunt rose suddenly from the table, to comfort Jessie. Inadvertently, she knocked her chair over the cat. He hissed and clawed her ankles. My aunt turned awkwardly, teetered, and fell head first into the tapioca pudding with her left hand landing in the caramel soufflé, and her right, in the ambrosia.
Mother looked speechless. I was horrified. I felt the party was ruined. It was awful. I started to cry. The guests looked embarrassed with their mouths hanging open. “What to do?” I thought helplessly.
Then Lydia started to laugh. One after another the guests relaxed and smiled. Chuckles spread like a contagion until waves of laughter wove through us, including myself. I breathed a sigh of relief. My dear Lydia had made light of a potential disaster. Everything was all right with the world.