HOW NOT TO CELEBRATE YOUR BIRTHDAY

All I wanted to do was celebrate but somehow I ended up feeding everyone arse cupcakes.

I turned twenty-eight today and here’s what I know for sure. Sitting in a toilet stall at work and crying (ugly crying – tears, snot, hiccups and all) means that you’re not having a good day. Especially when it’s your birthday. Especially when you’re holding a tupperware container filled with your once famous vanilla and poppy seed cupcakes with lemon cream icing. Now, they’re famous for the wrong reasons. They’re dry and taste like arse. Actual arse. I made arse cupcakes.

This is the worst birthday ever of all time. Forever. What went wrong? Everything. When did it start? At the beginning. I’m actually wearing a white wrap dress that I ordered from ASOS especially for today! I got my hair blow dried got my makeup done at Sephora. And while I was giving out cupcakes to everyone at the office, I had Katy Perry’s Firework playing in my head. Why though? Cause I’m a loser and oblivious to all things.

I remember noticing people’s faces. It was a bit weird. Usually, I’m used to them smiling. I’m used to them scoffing down my cupcakes, biscuits, cakes. I’m used to them asking me where I bought them from.

‘Buy them? No, I baked these myself.’

And then I’d pretend to be embarrassed (I mean I kind of was, but I also loved it) when they showered me with compliments. But that was in my old office. Back home. Back in London. Where my old life was. My shitty old life, that today on my birthday, I miss so fucking much.

Now everyone in my new office, in Dubai, in my new exciting life (which after today might end up being a shittier version of my shitty old life in London) think I’m a crappy, over confident trainee that bakes cupcakes that taste like actual arse! I bet arse tastes better. Not talking from experience. Not really my style (no judgment if you like eating arse).

At first, I didn’t care when Barbara aka Rainbow Bug (will explain nick name later), Rohan aka Just a Little Bit (will explain nick name later), Erika aka Pineapple Arse (will explain nick name later) and Francis aka Beverly Hills 90210 (will explain nick name later) all had weird expressions and didn’t say much when they tasted my cupcakes. Well, I cared a little when Beverly Hills 90210 cause she’s just a bitch. And not the good kind. I just thought they didn’t want to give me compliments cause, well, I work in a law firm and everyone here is competitive as fuck.

But when no one else in the office was saying anything, I got a bit suspicious. There were no compliments, no emails asking me for the recipe, no one introducing themselves to me under the pretence of wanting to be BFFS when really, they just want the cookies in my cookie jar (actual cookies, not an innuendo for my lady lumps). Something was up. So, I crouched under my desk and tasted one of my cupcakes. I spat it out.

Hard, salty, gross, arse like – I wanted to scratch the inside of my mouth. I couldn’t even drink water properly because I’d have to swallow the remnants of the arse cupcakes. Mortified! How did this happen? I gave a cupcake to everyone in the office, all of them – fuck! I left some in the meeting room where the senior partners were going to have a meeting!

Don’t cry at work. Don’t cry at work. Don’t cry at work. Isn’t that what Kelly Cutrone, Famous American fashion publicist always says?

Usually the senior partners, the four Big Ds – Daniel (D1), Derek (D2), Drew (D3) and David (D4) are always late. They never start meetings on time. So, a huge chance, that my arse cupcakes are still there, uneaten. I got out from under my desk and ran.

Have you ever tried to rush, like run but not really run, while being inconspicuous? And at the same time try not to breath from your mouth in case you inhale more of the aftertaste of arse cupcakes? Not fun. Especially in heels. Fuck heels. Fuck you King Louis XIV. Trust a man with short man’s syndrome to invent something so fucking painful that women would have to deal with it for all eternity. And fuck me for thinking I look good in them. I do though. Even while I was rushing to get to the meeting room, I caught a glimpse of my reflection on one of the glass doors and I thought, fuck I look hot. Oh my God I hate myself!

Things got from mortifying to someone please stuff me down a garbage chute. The door to the meeting room was open. The four Big Ds were in there. Each of them holding a cupcake. They were eating them. D1 spat it out. D2 was sucking through his teeth. D3 seemed to be enjoying it (he’s weird generally, but that did make me feel a bit better) and D4 grabbed my tupperware and threw the whole thing in the bin. I hid next to the open door and listened.

‘Atrocious,’ D4 said.

‘Who the bloody hell is Sarah?’ D1 said coughing.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I branded each cup cake with ‘Happy Birthday to Me! (Sarah Sulaiman, come say hi!).

‘Isn’t she the new girl?’ D2 said.

‘Yup,’ D3 said, ‘Someone should tell her she can’t bake, these are terrible.’

‘No point telling her,’ D4 said, ‘I don’t think we’ll keep her on after her probation period.’

‘How come?’ D1 asked.

‘She’s not bright. Slow at everything. Don’t like the way she writes emails. Francis says she’s missed a few deadlines, smiles too much or looks absolutely miserable. Looks like she’s always day dreaming.’

‘Why don’t you tell us how you really feel David?’ D2 said.

They laughed.

‘Everything I say can be verified by Francis. Did a bit of research as well and saw that she barely passed the entrance exam we give candidates,’ D4 said sounding serious.

‘But is that exam even worth anything?’ D3 said.

‘I designed the exam myself,’ D4 said, ‘it’s full proof. Francis aced it.’

‘Then why the bloody hell did we give her a job and fly her out here from London?’ D1 said, ‘so she can poison us?’

‘She interviewed well,’ D4 said, ‘her people skills are great allegedly top notch. And…’

‘And what?’ D2 asked.

‘We’re low on our quota,’ D4 said, ‘we needed to hire an Arab.’

‘Wonderful,’ D1 said, ‘the one Arab girl we hire is crap at her actual job and can’t even cook.’

Someone chuckled.

‘I don’t think-’ D4 said.

‘What do you suggest we do about her?’

‘She has three more months until her probation is up,’ D4 said, ‘unlikely she’ll improve. We’ll let her go at the end of it.’

‘So, we have to eat more of her shit until then?’ D3 said.

I couldn’t listen anymore. God, I’m so dramatic. Only after I’ve heard the absolute worst of it, can I not listen anymore. I walked around the corner and sat in the photocopying room. Don’t cry at work. Don’t cry at work. Don’t cry at work. Isn’t that what Kelly Cutrone, Famous American fashion publicist always says? But why? Fuck! I read her book like three times and can’t remember a bloody word!

He’s staring at me. In my white birthday wrap dress, in my high heels, holding my flower tupperware filled with my arse cupcakes.

Am I really that bad at my job? I-I don’t think so? Am I really annoying? Was that a racist joke? Was I really going to get fired in three months? That can’t happen. I can’t go back to London to my shitty old life even though I miss it. But you can’t go back in time. I can’t be a failure again!

Ten minutes later of me trying not to cry (basically doing kegels in my throat) I heard the four Ds walk out of the meeting room. It’s almost six thirty, they’re probably going to the bar downstairs. I went in the meeting room, to the corner where the bin was and pulled out my tupperware container with some of the cupcakes still inside.

The container is so pretty. It has flowers all over it that look hand painted. My mother bought me a whole bunch of these before I left London.

‘Be a good girl.’

That was the last thing she told me at the airport. Oh, fuck it. I’m going to cry, I’m going to cry, I’m going to cry. Sorry Kelly Cutrone but in this context right now, in this second, your bullshit advice isn’t making sense cause I can’t remember it and you know what bitch? I feel like crying so I’m going to fucking do it.

Someone coughed behind me. I turn around. It’s D4. He’s staring at me. In my white birthday wrap dress, in my high heels, holding my flower tupperware filled with my arse cupcakes.

‘I forgot my glasses,’ he said, leaning over and picking them up from the table.

I think I’m looking at him with a proud and dignified expression. Like a Cleopatra or a Zenobia or Queen of Sheba. No, like Beyoncé when she performed at the super bowl in 2013 – NO! Like Britney Spears in Toxic – a spy pop star in complete control. That’s all in my head of course. I’m pretty sure I looked like I was trying not to cry… or like when you kind of have a sneeze but it won’t come out.

I didn’t say anything. I walked around him. And he’s just standing there. Not awkwardly but kind of like, ‘I’m not moving. I’m D4 I’m the big shit, I own this place. I designed the exam you barely passed, I threw your tupperware in the bin and I don’t care.’

‘Hang on a minute I – ‘

I’m down the hallway already and pretend not to hear him. I make a sharp right, go in the lady’s room, sit in the stall and let it all out. Yes, it feels fucking good to cry. I’ve been sitting here an hour. My phone rang twice in my pocket but I can’t be bothered to see who it is. Yes, my dress has pockets. It’s a fucking amazing dress. It’s the only thing cheering me up right now.

Why were the cupcakes so bad? It’s the same recipe I always use. They’re supposed to taste, light, tangy, yummy and fresh. I baked them last night. I broke a cupcake in half and sniffed it. It did smell funny like… Za’atar? Wtf! For all you non-Arabs reading this here’s the first line from Wikipedia about what Za’atar is (I’m so nice I don’t want you to waste your data):

Za’atar is a generic name for a family of related Middle Eastern herbs from the genera Origanum (oregano), Calamintha (basil thyme), Thymus (typically Thymus vulgaris, i.e., thyme), and Satureja (savory).

How did that happen? Think… I had the jar of poppy seeds on the counter . . . I had other jars there and then my phone beeped. It was a random number.

‘It’s your birthday tomorrow SOS. I miss you. I miss you so much.’

It was Omar. I blocked the number straight away and then I had diarrhea. Diarrhea is the fucking worst. I didn’t want to think about him. But I couldn’t not think about him. It’s been seven months.

I went back to the kitchen (don’t worry I washed my hands after the diarrhea) and must have grabbed the za’atar jar instead of the poppy seeds? I remember, I accidently put in more than usual into the batter. It was fine, I thought, everyone likes poppy seeds. I put them in the oven and sat on the sofa for a second. Well it wasn’t a second, I was kind of dazed.

He misses me? So much? I didn’t want to think about him but there he was, back in my head. I think I sat there for longer than 20 minutes before I took the cupcakes. That’s probably why they’re hard as concrete.

It’s his fault. All of this is his fault. I don’t want to think about him now. I don’t want to think about him ever again. This diary isn’t about him, it’s not about guys. It’s about me. Fuck guys. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill, as God as my witness, I will never think about a guy when I’m baking ever again.

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