Against all better judgment, I once worked in a cupcake shop self-described as "magical." The vomitous use of magical, however, was only a garnish to the misplaced apostrophes, syntactical catastrophes, and excessive exclamation that already made the help wanted ad alarming enough, never mind that a job requirement was to "like pink!!!" and the unit of quantitative measure was “galore.” Galore? What was I thinking?
I should have listened to my heart. My heart barfs at negligent prose, even in a shitty ad for a shitty job. My heart, however, is also a sucker for irony and incompatible situations. Who, me? Insufferable grump? Wearing an apron? Selling cupcakes? What a riot! What material! My heart also likes money. So I became a cupcake salesgirl in a bougie British neighborhood.
The interior was pink, twee, and preciously femme, florally adorned, and draped in lace, with faux chandeliers and paintings of rose petals that looked disturbingly much more like lady parts. Still, everything was hearts and soft-focused cozy, and it all looked like a really nice stationery set. The cupcakes had names of vintage bitches such as the Arabella, the Priscilla. Accordingly, it was a perfect hangout for li'l princesses not yet lost to spray-tans and slutdom, still girly-girls busy with tutus, glitter, and all that magic wand bullshit. Magical.
Here I had to smile, consistently, for five days a week. If your personality is not so much bubbly as it is room temperature and flat, this can pose a challenge. Though the mornings were relatively calm and the job itself quite easy, the afternoons were when the shit-storm came a-roaring, when yuppie moms and knackered nannies came swooping in with their broods of pampered, modern assholes.
When the shop turned into an absolute circus, my boss usually stayed downstairs in the kitchen, and I was often left to deal with it alone. This unbridled savagery made me sweat: through the ever constant screaming and stream of customers, there'd be the hazard of sugar-drunk children staggering back up to the counter blind with glazed, mumbling longing; of fat, ruddy little girls with blunt bangs and stained sweatshirts stomping their feet with demands for cake. I fell down! I need cake! I don’t like my haircut! I need cake! I was dealt an unfair blow in a playground exchange! I need cake! These young shit-beasts rolled around on the floor, biting each other before teaming up to bite their moms. Lusty, big-skulled toddlers very slowly and ever so gingerly stuck their grimy fingers into the frosting of low-shelved cakes before furiously screeching at you when you tried to gently steer them away. All the while, ever more children skipped up to the window and smashed their snotty noses against it, rubbing their hands and licking their lips in that unsettling way in which kids sometimes over-animate their gestures.
Fine, shrieking treat-fiends were a given. Sometimes I even got back at them too. Like the one kid with trick chewing gum, who came up to me one day acting all cool an' shit, whipping out a pack of gum that looked suspiciously plastic and said "CHEWY GUM" on the side. Naturally he offered me that one piece perfectly positioned to slide out of the pack, poised to snap my finger.
I declined. It was an answer which he was clearly not prepared for. He was stunned. What followed was a few minutes of back-and-forth, him pleading and begging and me refusing, his desperation and agitation gradually growing until he finally snapped, and started shaking his fists and screaming that I take this piece of gum, violently thrusting it at my face and yelling, "C'MOONNN!! TAKE THE GUM!! TAKE IT!!" A better person would’ve indulged him. But what kind of child coolly offers an adult gum? That's so sleazy. And what kind of asshole screams at you when you politely decline? In any case, kids are just funny—it was the moms who were worse.
The mother kingdom consisted of chronic neurotics, pushovers, egomaniacal mega-bitches who fashioned their kids exactly after themselves, and a particularly aggressive subset who used their children as battering rams, smashing their way into shops and small businesses with the sterns of their top-of-the-line, sport-utility baby-porting vessels, packing their groundlings into veritable tanks just so that they could repeatedly thrash against my door like a bunch of assholes. We can also thank these mothers for baby-cinos. Like a cappuccino, but for a baby. Because a baby gives a shit about cappuccino.
Sadly, I spent a small portion of my life making those too. Served in brightly colored plastic cups, baby-cinos were one part cocoa to three parts foam, but the foam had to be just right so as to withstand a topcoat of sprinkles. The whole process was a pain, especially since I always had to make a ton of them at once. If one mom got one for her kid then they all had to. There's really not much that makes you want to kill yourself more than—in the midst of a jam-packed cake shop, with rushed, snappy British ladies barking out orders for takeouts, and the phone ringing, and the kids screaming, and that weird lady with the greasy hair and collection of small felt hats smiling her jagged, lipstick-smeared grin at you and silently pointing at her fourth empty coffee cup—when some-pale eyed bitch-mom asks for another baby-cino. Baby. Fucking. Cinos.
For some reason, I always found baby-cinos the worst thing to clean up. Maybe because the kids never finished them and what'd be left was lukewarm slush and collapsed foam, the straws hideously chewed up and the sprinkles bleeding. Or maybe it was because I resented them so much. Or maybe because my boss didn't think it was funny that one morning when I quietly made one for myself, took a long, thoughtful sip and said, “Ahhhhh, nothing like a fresh baby-cino to start my day.“
Somehow it was always as I was cleaning up these baby-cinos and other debris, after all the motherfuckers had finished trashing the place and cleared out, that Chavvy McSpazz and her pork-bellied brother King Biscuit would show up.
Chavvy McSpazz was probably 13 or 14, but if she had told me she was 26, had two illegitimate children on welfare, and had a thing for guys who treated her badly, I’d have totally believed her.
The surname "McSpazz" came from her day-to-day demeanor, largely characterized by gulping, fidgeting, and goldfish eyes darting here and there between long, vacant stares. Her hair was a frizzy, light-brown shrub that may have been combed with a large garden rake, brutishly yanked back into a ponytail spilling out of a scrunchie in the kind of long, aerated wisps that, when accidentally brushed against your face in instances of mass transit or crowds, make your skin crawl. She favored a tacky track jacket as the definitive piece of her wardrobe, a hideous swish-swish affair in a blouson style with splashes of neon here and there. In America, we might call her trash.
Chavvy McSpazz had yet to master the art of casual shoplifting. Her intentions were all too clear, so we didn't trust her and kept a wary eye. I had been specifically instructed to deny her (many) requests to use the bathroom because the one time she did use it she casually opened the door to the kitchen and strolled right in. Every time I told her no she would try to argue, until finally she wouldn't say anything and just stand there for a few minutes, as if trying to figure out her next move, blinking and gulping and looking about until finally leaving, her shitty hair bouncing behind her.
Then there was King Biscuit, her younger brother. King Biscuit was probably nine or ten, maybe 160 pounds but, again, if it turned out he was 30, worked at the bookies, and went to titty bars on the weekends—hell, throughout the week—I’d have believed him too. He wore those sweatpants with cargo pockets and looked like a pint-sized perv, overconfident and pushy, carrying himself like a sleazy two-bit punter. He knew exactly what he wanted—slice of the vic sponge yeh?—and how to get it. He had an alarmingly mature swagger.
These are the kids who would end my cupcake shop career.
TO BE CONTINUED, SUCKAS.
If you missed the other Dickheadz, here's Erik Jackson, here's Jaspar Logan, here's Tucker, here's part one of a baboon and here's its return, and here's Ol' Grumpy Tits.