“Like I said, I hosted the last party. So it's your turn."
"That's not fair, Gen and you know it."
"It is fair, I worked two parties in a row, so it's yours to work this time.
"But you know I'm premiering new desserts that night. I can’t host a party too."
"Not my problem," Gen snapped "Suppose you be tellin' your Mom eh? Tellin' the boss, eh?" She didn't wait for a response before stomping off, headed for the employee room at the back of the restaurant.
Summer watched her leave. They had been standing in the empty dining room during this dispute. The only thing worse than Genevieve's display of ill temperament, was her Barbados accent becoming more noticeable when angered. For Summer, it was like being chastised by her mother. The same thing would happen when she became angry. Since the beginning of the restaurant venture with her mother, there had been one too many incidents of mother anger leveled at her. Now she braced herself for yet another. She knew Genevieve would head straight to her mother. She was the one more prone to tattling.
Feeling discouraged, she sat down at one of the corner tables and began rearranging the prearranged flowers of the table's centerpiece. When some of the petals from the fresh flowers fell off, she sighed. Summer saw it as a sign that perhaps she wasn't right for this job, because even the smallest of things seemed to work against her. Dancing had been so much easier before this.
When Summer graduated from college, her mother gave her a position as a hostess, but also helped her become one of the dessert chefs. Creating desserts was something she had learned growing up with her mother. Many of the desserts were from old family recipes. Her mother gave her the responsibility of seeing all the desserts were kept consistent with the restaurant's Caribbean theme. Summer was also allowed to showcase new creations on certain nights. This coming Thursday was to be the premiere of her new mango rum pound cake with Verde orange sauce. All was ready. But now, she would have to host a party. Summer couldn't imagine how she would accomplish both.
He had just finished his presentation before The Economic Trade Council.
He felt assured his ideas would be implemented, after all they maintained all the greed measures the council approved of. They offered the perfect lure for the perfect fish. There would be haggling for the most strategic position on any of the prospective trades, only the most competitive trade expert would accomplish the objective. He had accomplished such feats in his recent past against smaller market venues. This left him confident that he was the person for this much larger job.
Aaron headed back to Hong Kong as the new head of The Commodity Trade Council. He felt enthusiastic yet constrained over his accomplishment. This new position offered benefits for his people, while at other times there were only benefits for the more affluent. He was beginning to feel the same way he did when he competed in the Olympics. As a champion athlete, he brought benefits to his family, but as time went on he saw more benefits going to athletic councils and other officials. When his injury caused him to be of little use to gain benefits, he and his family were discarded, their privileges removed.
Now he was in a position where strength in physicality didn't matter, only the strength of the mind counted and he would use his strength to seek benefits for the good of all.
Marlene Carson was in her office, upstairs from the main dining space of the restaurant. Summer decided to accept the inevitable and went to see her mother. Much to her surprise, she greeted her with uncharacteristic enthusiasm and a totally different matter to discuss.
“There you are! I have news, great news about this party coming Thursday!”
Summer sat down in one of the chairs across from her mother’s desk. Her mother had spoken while standing at her desk, looking out of her window. She quickly turned, taking her seat at the desk, leaning across it towards her daughter, smiling widely as she related her news.
Summer leaned in as well, her mother’s excitement was infectious.
“You know I haven’t completely removed myself from the business of making good deals,” she began, “so when Avery Weathers, you remember him, right?”
“Well, he has been involved with the commodity trade talks with Asia. Representatives from most of the Asian countries have come to work deals and this time China has sent representatives. The deals made could be very lucrative for us all.
Summer sat back slowly, “Mom I know about the Asian Delegates. They're the ones coming Thursday night.”
“Yes My girl,” her mother continued, “but what you didn’t know is this is the first time China is sending delegates. They are the ones with the power and they will be joining the other delegates here and we will show them all that is the best of us. You, my girl, will handle this. My confidence is in you”
Her mother ended her words with a wide smile. When Summer didn’t show the same enthusiasm, she paused, “What Is it?”
“Mom, you forgot, on that night I feature my new dessert, and….”
“Oh my daughter, I’ve forgotten nothing, you will of course do them both.”
“Yes." Her mother continued with a determined look on her face. “Our special guests only will partake of the debut of your dessert, you will present it to them as a special welcome. While you are doing that I will of course see to your hostess duties. All will go perfectly,” Her mother slapped the desk lightly, as she stood and faced the window. “We will go for the blue mango.” her mother said as she looked out, arms folded, a confident smile on her face.
Summer sat back in her seat again, feeling much more confident now, “It’s a blue mango thing then ?” She laughed.
“Yes daughter, it is.”
As if on cue, they said it together: “We go for the blue mango, the best and the better!”
They laughed together as Summer rose to leave. After giving her mother a quick hug, she left the office. Headed down the short flight of steps to the main floor, she met Genevieve on her way up. As they passed, Summer spoke, “Mom’s already making me host that party tomorrow, so if that’s what you’re going up there for, there’s no need.” After speaking she didn’t wait for a response, she simply walked off.
His father took the news as Aaron expected he would. His steely eyed glare with his stiff uplifted chin had a dual meaning: First immense pride in his son's accomplishment but then it also warned against the arrogance of over confidence. His mother, who was working in Taiwan, was also elated when he called to tell her. Her phrase of praise and encouragement was always the same, " Seek always the blue mango, only the rare is the best."
“Yes Mama, only the rare is the best." He replied. They spoke a few more minutes before saying their goodbyes. He then returned to studying the agenda for his first conference as Chairman. He had only two days to be ready for the week-long trade negotiations.
The long flight from Hong Kong to New York, where the economic conference was convening, would also be an opportunity to finalize his trade strategies, or so he thought. Only the old saying his mother had given him languished in his mind.
"Seek always the blue mango," he muttered. For a moment he pondered the phrase originally of the island people like his mother. He remembered how he researched it, as no one could tell how it came about.
Aaron remembered being surprised to find out there had been blue mangoes. Native only to an Indonesian island, they were a rare find, later found to be nonexistent growing in the wild. The older people who tasted them said their taste was more wondrous than any other mango or fruit. Some others said it's properties were mystical, giving the eater unique spiritual and health benefits. Because of this, the search for it became a euphemism for striving for success.
As he closed down his laptop, in favor of some shut eye instead of study, he silently wished for a taste of the mystical fruit instead of the sometimes pointless search for it.
At home for the rest of the day, Summer put the final touches on the speech for her dessert presentation. The rolling presentation table would be decorated with the national flags of the delegates attending, along with the large leafed greenery surrounding the decorated cakes, representing the lush tropical flora from the dessert’s place of origin. All in all, a lovely backdrop for her creative dessert.
As she prepared for bed, she rehearsed her speech. “Honored Guests, My name is Summer Carson and it is with great pleasure that I introduce my favorite and hopefully your favorite part of this meal...the dessert.” Exiting the bathroom and entering her bedroom, she paused before her full length mirror on the wall near the foot of her bed. She stood on her toes and did a small twirl as she quoted more of her speech: Mangoes sweet as honey pack this cake with a wealth of favor. The icing from the juice of the famous Verde orange offers a delicate citrus finish to every bite…” Pausing again, she twirled as though placing imaginary plates before imaginary guests. Laughing out loud, she fell onto her bed. Lying there, quiet for a moment, she mused how different she felt about working with her mother. After all Summer mused, her mother was the mystical blue mango.
Never running into anything she couldn't conquer. Marlene Carson had left a high profile job in Merger and Acquisitions, not because she had to, but because she wanted to. She transitioned smoothly from building and managing the businesses of others to building and managing a business of her own. With her intuitive and inventive ideas, owning her own restaurant was just another step to more success. The restaurant was in an uptown area of Manhattan and featured an upscale styling of Caribbean dishes. Using her ingenuity and her business influences, her mother had it furnished, staffed and running in little less than a year.
Now, Summer was sure she was working on yet another quest. Somehow she knew her mother was going to make some sort of deal involving the restaurant going international through a trade deal.
Preparations began at noon and was more than enough time for the restaurant to prepare for all the reservations for the evening. The special guests arrived promptly, having come by limousine vans from their respective hotels. They lined up in a hallway leading to the private dining hall. Thirty original guests, plus the five guests added from the Chinese delegates took their seats at five large circular dining tables.
Summer felt a jolt of nervous tension as all eyes fixed themselves on her. "Showtime," she whispered to herself and she began her welcome speech. All was going smoothly as she made eye contact with everyone at each table. Most responses were pleasant smiles and nods, however she found the unblinking glare she was getting from a man at the Chinese delegate table somewhat unnerving. He was wearing tinted glasses, so his eyes were hidden. He didn’t smile or scowl, but was completely expressionless. She managed to continue and finish, then dismiss herself for a well deserved deep breath. Peeping into the dining room during their meal, she found her eyes returning to the stoic delegate from China. The other two men and two women at the table seemed to be enjoying themselves while this man only seemed to converse when necessary and ate silently.
Summer found it easier not to look at the man as she presented her special dessert. Once finished, all the guests were given their servings and Summer felt free to disappear. She hid in a quiet corner of the kitchen with a cold can of soda pop. Her mother came in, disrupting her momentary peace.
"Summer, what are you doing? This is not over. You are not curious of
how your dessert is doing?"
Summer looked up sheepishly, "Everything's alright isn't it?"
Her mother only smiled, "Well, they not only enjoyed it but many want their own dessert to take back with them."
Summer laughed, "Even the mean man with the Chinese delegates?"
What mean man? The one with the glasses? He wants you to bring out a cake to him personally.
Summer bolted up in shock. "Really?"
"Yes, my girl." Her mother patted her on the back, "Go my Summer, go for the blue mango!"
Summer hurriedly packed up the small cake personally and took it out to the gentleman. She was surprised to see him sitting alone at the table in the empty dining room. He was looking down, texting on his phone. She noticed he had removed his glasses. When he heard her approaching, he raised his head and smiled. She had never forgotten that smile.
"Hello Summer," he said
"Hello Aaron, she replied softly. "Is it really you?"
He smiled wider and nodded. "I couldn't believe it was you either, until you said your name."
She slid down into the seat next to him sitting the cake on the table.
"I certainly didn't recognize you," she began.
"It's been six years," he said
"A long time," she continued "I didn't hear from you anymore, after 'we' won that year, you were going to compete in the next summer games in Calgary and…."
"That never happened," he said, looking at her intently. "I wasn't able to because of my knee. I had the surgery, but I wasn't interested in competing anymore." He looked off for a moment before adding, "I didn't have you to inspire me anymore."
"You could have called me," she whispered as she drew closer to him.
"It wasn't that simple," he smiled as he drew closer to her, "I had no control over who I talked to, or wrote to at the time."
"Do you have that control now?" She asked.
He grinned in the way she most remembered and nodded. "I have a question for you. "Do you still dance?"
"Not like back then," she sighed "I didn't get those auditions I hoped for when I graduated, so it was easier to work here with my Mom. Besides, she added, "I didn't have my favorite dance partner."
"Oh, you are both still here?"
Summer, hearing her mother’s voice straightened in her seat, while Aaron stood up,
"My apologies, " Aaron began, "I should really be leaving now."
"It's quite alright," she answered. "I had no idea you two knew each other.
Summer stood up beside him, "Yes Mom. This is Aaron, Li Chen."
They shook hands as her mother said with a sly smile, "So you are the Olympic athlete."
"Former athlete," Aaron added.
"What a wonder the two of you find each other after so much distance and time between you" her mother said as she looked at the two of them. After a brief pause, she turned to Aaron and added, "it has been a pleasure meeting you." She shook Aaron's hand again. "And I hope your business here will be productive and I hope I've given you a few more things to consider."
Aaron smiled and gave her a polite nod.
Turning to her daughter she said, "Lock up my darling girl. I'll talk to you tomorrow, not early though." After another sly smile, she departed.
"I should be leaving too." Aaron said as he watched her leave. "I am here on business after all. The real sessions begin tomorrow."
Summer sighed, " You're going for the blue mango then."
Aaron looked at her strangely, " You use that saying too?"
"Why, yes. It's my mother's favorite saying." Summer replied.
"My mother's favorite saying as well,” Aaron said. "My mother is also from an island, remember I told you once.
"I remember, from Taiwan." Summer answered.
"I hate the saying, from the time I first heard it" Aaron replied, " Always about the bigger and better deal, whether good or bad." His whole expression changed as he spoke. It was the look he had when she first saw him. He softened, " But it's part of whatever I do now, doesn't matter, the nation or the politics, it's only about the deal."
Summer touched his face, " No, it's not,” she said as she drew close enough to kiss him, "I understand it truly now. It's about seeking the rare and the wondrous and I have found it now."
The sudden realization hit him as well, "So have I." He drew closer to her and they kissed.