By RonnieMarie Falasco ’21
“Aw man,” Ella sighed, leaning back onto the edge of the kitchen sink. “I completely forgot that I just painted my nails before dinner.”
“And?” questioned James.
“Well, nail polish chips so easily, and I’d hate to ruin mine after only an hour. I just feel like I probably shouldn’t be on pot-scrubbing duty to keep them safe, you know?”
“I’ve actually never painted my own nails, so no, I actually don’t know.”
“Good one, J,” Ella smirked. “It’s just that they look so good right now. And, honestly, they probably haven’t even fully dried yet. I mean, imagine if a piece of fried rice got stuck on one of my nails while I was cleaning the rice pot. How gross would that be?”
“Oh, El!” James pouted, dramatically clutching at his chest. “How ever would you survive such a terrible event?”
“Oh, James,” Ella responded, playing along with what she thought were innocent theatrics. “Without the help of a big, strong man like you, I don’t think I could!”
James shook his head. “You’re unbelievable.”
“What did I do?” she asked, the corners of her mouth turning up slightly.
“Are you really gonna make me do the chore that ???? you signed up for? Again? You did the same thing Tuesday night.”
“I mean, I didn’t say that, but if you really feel inclined to—”
“Oh my god, just move over,” he cut in, his hand motioning her away from where she stood in front of the sink.
“Aw, James!” she gushed. “You shouldn’t have!”
He turned the faucet on full-blast, pivoting the handle as far toward the red “H” as it could go. “Oh, but I always do, don’t I?”
“I said, ‘You’re welcome.’”
“Oh, okay. I couldn’t hear you over the faucet. This house has insanely good water pressure, by the way! Maybe it’s because we’re in the middle of nowhere, but I was expecting much worse. Wait, did I tell you guys at dinner about what happened in my seminar yesterday?”
“I don’t remember,” James mumbled as he got to work on a rice-covered pan.
“It was crazy. So, I log into the Zoom chat, and our professor tells us he’s going to put groups of two of us into breakout rooms, which, as you know, is a nightmare to begin with. He says each pair has to come up with four discussion questions that they’ll have to ask the class. Of course, I get put into a breakout room with Jordyn, of all people. You remember Jordyn, right?”
“Yeah, so I end up coming up with all four questions, because she didn’t do any of the readings. Shocker. Trying to be nice, I tell her I’ll give a little introduction speech and present two questions, and then she can present the other two. Mind you, this professor is a hardo when it comes to grading discussions, so I literally outlined every word for her so that she didn’t completely embarrass us like she did that one time last semester. We go back to the main Zoom call, and—” Ella paused for a moment to peer over her shoulder. “Can you even hear me over that water?”
Enveloped in a cloud of steam, James slightly shrugged. Without turning his face away from the sink, he extended his right arm out towards her. “Hand me that pot on the stove.”
“Okay, so we go back into the main Zoom call,” Ella continued as she placed the pot in James’ outstretched hand. “The professor tells us we’re presenting first. Just as I’m about to start my little introduction spiel, Jordyn starts talking. She goes on for two minutes about God knows what and then proceeds to present all four questions. And the best part? After reading the questions, she goes, ‘Yeah, I actually came up with these last night while I was reading the articles.’ Isn’t that insane?”
“I checked Moodle before dinner to see what grade I got on that discussion. I got a 70????. Out of 100????. Seven. Zero.”
“It just sucks that my grade in the class is bad because of Jordyn. I told her exactly what to do, and she still couldn’t do it. This is why I hate group projects. There’s always somebody who can’t follow the rules and has to mess it up for everyone.”
James chuckled under his breath as he scrubbed the last bit of grease off the pot. Ella peered over her shoulder again. “Did you say something?”
He placed the now clean pot into the drying rack, marking the last of the dirty dishes
he’d have to scrub for Ella that night. “Just agreeing with you, that’s all.”
“Oh, good. I just needed someone to make me feel like I’m not being dramatic. Also, it’s still the beginning of the semester, so I have plenty of time to get my grade up, right? I’m just hoping that for the rest of the discussions, I get paired with partners who will actually work with me and listen to me, you know? If not, it’s going to be a loooooong semester.”
James watched the torrent of scalding water continue to pour out of the faucet, shutting it off just as the sink threatened to overflow. “It could be a long semester, for sure.”
Falasco is a psychology major from Broomall, Pa.