One of the most delicate dances performed by every summer associate is the “try to never pay for one single morsel of food that crosses your lips between your starting date and the last day of work” dance. Apparently, part of convincing young law students that working at a law firm is fun is achieved by plying them with fancy food from expensive restaurants in the city that they would never be able to afford on their own. In fact, associates at my firm make jokes about the “Law Firm Fifteen,” a la freshman fifteen, which is really not a funny joke to tell a 27-year-old whose metabolism just isn’t what it used to be anymore.

The other summer associates should get gold medals in lunch. Every single day they let it slip that they have lunch with this associate or that partner set up at Swanky Hip Restaurant. Every day I panic a little, because (a) I don’t actually want a three-course lunch most days and maybe is there some associate out there who just wants to get a light salad and maybe sit in the park for half an hour enjoying the sunshine? and (b) holy crap I am bad at approaching near-strangers and asking them if they’d like to take me to lunch. And pay for it.

Which is why I was so excited yesterday to be invited, along with all the summers, to a charity lunch at which my firm had bought a table. This was going to be great! I didn’t have to do the awkward “hey, I’m new, please take me to lunch” spiel AND it was for a charity! One that actually does really kickass work! Huzzah! This lunch was attended by one partner, one associate, and six summer associates. (Apparently real working lawyers are too busy to be bothered with charity luncheons, because every single table in the spot had a similar breakdown- one or two full-time employees chaperoning a herd of summer associates. I saw so many people I know from school that it was like a freaking class reunion.)

The food at this lunch was actually pretty good (though I definitely heard one summer from another firm mumbling about how “this stuff sucks compared to sushi wabi,”) and the speeches were interesting and entirely partisan (nothing is more fun than putting a room full of largely conservative corporate lawyers together with a few dedicated public interest people set on calling the current administration to the carpet. Good times!) In fact, I was having a great time- lunch was easy, not stressful, the topic was interesting, they even had a vegetarian option- until dessert came. We had to pass around little plates of miniature lemon meringue tarts, and man I must have had one diet coke too many or something because I became Pseudostoops the Incredible Butterfingered Woman and managed to (a) grab a tart in such a way that it exploded onto my plate, and a little onto my lap, (b) knock my water glass over as I tried to pass the plate to the partner sitting next to me and (c) (my favorite part) pass the plate in such a way that the meringue-encrusted tongs became a sort of projectile that I watched, in slow motion, fly directly into the partner’s lap, splattering his suit jacket and pants with meringue.

Needless to say, today I plan on going to Subway for a sandwich. By myself.

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