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How's One to Know?

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If you told Joy Butterworth two months ago she would’ve fallen in love with Carol Dash, she would’ve thought you were crazy.

Mrs. Butterworth, or as she’s commonly known as across the school district, Joyless Joy, had been the head of Cook County’s PTA Board for six years. That is, until Mrs. Dash, aka Carol, took over her position by one vote in a tense and fraught election.

Mrs. Butterworth reluctantly accepted to be her Vice President, with a few conditions. Joy refused to take on the unsavory duty of writing each meeting’s minutes, and would continue to host the annual Spring PTA Brunch at her house. After all, breakfast was her territory. The Butterworth family owned a vast swath of maple trees in Vermont, and always had the best syrup in supply. It would be a shame to let Mrs. Dash take over. She had plenty of seasonings, sure, but refused to use any salt. Talk about tasteless!

Then came Thursday. The first meeting since the elections. Joy instinctively went for the chair at the head of the table, before stopping and saving face by heading towards the coffee.

“How could this happen?” Joy thought to herself. One moment she’s on top of the PTA world, the next she’s tumbling down. Having to sit in the creaky chair with the uneven legs. Just a lowly vice president.

One cup of instant coffee into her pit of despair, Carol Dash entered the room, surrounded by her lackeys. A crowd of bobs with bumped ends and Kohl’s cardigans bought on clearance flocked Carol on either side, laughing like the opportunistic hyenas they were. Once, that had been Joy. Now, in this moment, there was only sadness.

“So, ladies and Orville, are we ready to begin?” Carol said with a maddening smile. Mr. Redenbacher, the only dad of the PTA, was already buttered up by Carol’s charm.

Joy found herself writhing in her chair too soon into the meeting. The room was buzzing with a newfound energy, and it wasn’t because of Mrs. Betty Crocker’s spontaneous cupcake delivery.

Joy tried to tune out the chatter, and pondered on the new pancake recipe she was aiming to perfect for the brunch. Lemon ricotta pancakes, based off a half finished series of scribbles in Grandma Butterworth’s recipe book. Her last practice batch of pancakes were too dense and acidic. These had to be light and refreshing, like the feeling of a cool breeze on the first day of spring—

“Joy? Any thoughts on the new proposal?” said Carol, startling Joy from her pancake fueled daydream.

“Oh! Well, whatever you think is best, Carol. I completely trust your judgement as president,” proclaimed Joy, followed by a polite smile. Joy knew Carol’s game. All flash, no substance. Appealing to her ego was the most painless way out of this.

“Really? I’m so glad you feel that way! I know you can be a real stickler with these sorts of things,” Carol responded.

That got Joy’s attention. She knew she had a tendency to be controlling, even perhaps a bit overbearing, sticking her presence all over PTA matters. That still didn’t give Carol the right to acknowledge it with such a bite!

“Of course not! Besides, what’s wrong with a little attention to detail?”

“Wonderful! So, all in favor of changing the Spring PTA Brunch to the Spring PTA Luncheon?” said Carol.

Joy’s heart sank like a melting pad of butter into a fresh stack of hotcakes.

A near unanimous aye was given. All save for Joy.

“Great! That officially brings this meeting to a close! Thank you everyone for such a splendid afternoon. I can’t wait for more of these as your new PTA president!”

Each word stung Joy even further. Carol kept taking everything that was scared to her. First, her presidency. Then, her brunch?

Some syrup soaked lines should never be crossed. And Carol Dash was about to find out the consequences.