Marla put her bobbed dark brown hair in a messy pony tail, threw on a cotton skirt and a
sleeveless USC t-shirt with black flip flops as she ran out the door with her arms full of donated
items for the Mama Earth event later that evening. Those items still needed labels, numbers and
so much more.
“Damn it. Where the hell is my purse?” She was incredibly stressed out. She dumped out her
large brown Juicy Couture purse to find her white Jetta keys, started the engine and headed
towards her office.
Marla, a Community Organizing and Policy Analysis graduate student was frazzled. She was
halfway through her two year program and was interning full time at an internationally known
non-profit. The non-profit partnered with various smaller non-profits to raise funds for its cause
– international disaster relief. That evening, as the Development (fundraising) associate intern
she and the Senior Development Associate would be setting up, attending, and most likely
smoozing all those in attendance at a small fundraiser attended by several celebrities- including
some up and coming musicians. This wasn’t the first time Marla had come into contact with
musicians and celebrities. Los Angles was all about philanthropy. It was kind of there thing.
Some were kind while others just threw their money at the cause and ran.
The event was Marla’s final paper, project and exam all rolled into one. She had three weeks to
write the paper on how the fundraiser was executed and how much money was raised and the
global impact of the money raised. She could care less about the star power – as long as they
handed her a million dollars. As Marla began planning the event early in the semester she began
to realize that the event was not going to be the same type of event as she had envisioned. While
planning with her field placement advisors they discussed all the details and Marla became very
nervous – which would explain the running out the door. She had no idea what was coming.
This was at 8am. After spending 3 hours at the office getting even more together she changed
into her outfit for the event set-up – a cotton color blocked dress and 4 inch Betsey Johnson
heels. She was ready. Even if she said she didn’t care if celebrities were there- Angie told her
that she always needed to be prepared to meet Mr. Perfect. Angie said she would give her an A
in her class if she did. She needed an A in that class.
Marla opened the door to the venue where she said hello to Jaime and her staff. Jaime hugged
Marla and hurried her to the auditorium where all the items would be set up.
“Oh, and I know it’s ridiculous but, my brother’s band is going to do their sound check at 2. So it
might be a bit loud. Feel free to put on your ipod or whatever. They get kind of out of control
sometimes….Oh and you look super cute today.”
“Thank you for the heads up.” Marla said
Marla started to drag all the items out. She had labels, sharpies, posters, and emotional photos
that would tug at even a person who had a heart of stone. After setting up about 20 of the 50
items she sighed heavily and grabbed the chair that was closest to her. She was going to power
through the day in those red high heels. But it was just too much. “Ejole, ¿chanclas? Please?”
She said under her breath. She rummaged through her reusable bags to grab her black USC flipflops.
Her hair had lost all the curl she had added at the office, too, so she threw it up in the
messy pony-tail it was originally in when she arrived at the office. She thought to herself, Damn.
I’m a mess.
As she finished putting her up she heard a large bang and “1, 2, 3…hey? Can you hear me?”
“It’s good…” a voice said close to her.
She couldn’t believe that it was already 2 o’clock. She was only halfway done labeling all the
items for the auction. Did it really take her that long to do all of this? She sighed again, stood up
and started working. She music started getting louder so she grabbed her ipod and cranked it up.
She put it on her most recently downloaded playlist which included the Now! gazillion. She
shook her head remembering Now! the original version with Britney Spears and N Sync. A new
song she only added because her friends had mentioned it to her started to play “Your smile,
your smile…” and then suddenly she felt the song being played behind her. She turned around to
see the eerie sound coming from behind her.
“Oh look…we finally got Marla to turn around….”
The music stopped and the singer spoke without the microphone.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything….I’m just so bus…”
“Busy…we’re all busy. I think everything is good y’all.” the singer jumped down from the stage
and walked towards the girl in the fancy dress, messy hair and ratty flip-flops.
“Hi, I’m Bruno..Jaime’s little brother.” He held out his hand to introduce himself. “and you’re
Marla Gonzales the charity’s development associate right?”
“Well, on most days, but today I’m their bitch.” She laughed as she glanced down at her horrible
He laughed her joke which made her blush a bit. “You’re an amazing…”
“What? Wait…bitch?” she finished the sentence for him.
“Intern…” he finished.
“Yeah. That’s what I meant to say.” he finished.
“I would love to talk to you Bruno, honestly, but I really…I really have to finish this before
everything starts.” Marla cut off the mini flirt fest that she could not understand because of her
“Let me help…what’s your system?”
Marla explained the system and they finished labeling, writing and signing things for the auction.
Mastering the side glance while working with Marla, Bruno had noticed Marla had several left
over stickers on her skirt after the completion of her set-up.
Before she could notice, he grabbed one of the buyer sheets – added the numbers that were left
on her skirt and wrote:
455: Dinner and a movie
39: A dozen roses
763: A USC/UCLA baseball game
On the back he wrote his phone number. He didn’t leave a name. He knew she would know who
He folded up the sheet and put it in his pocket.
“Thank you for the help. I don’t think I could have finished this before the doors opened without
“You’re welcome.” He smiled at her- dropping the buyer sheet in the box while her back was
Marla moved the buyer box into its position.
“What the heck?” she said . “This should be empty.
She grabbed the key that she held in her hand and opened it.
A single sheet dropped out of the box. The folded sheet fell out and blew towards the open door
where Bruno’s trumpet player was standing.
“Oh..here…” he picked it up for her.
She stood by the door where it wasn’t nearly as hot and stuffy and read the buyer sheet. She
glanced down at her skirt where she noticed several numbers on her skirt. She smiled to herself
and wondered if he did this often.
Suddenly her phone vibrated and snapped her out of her random bliss. She grabbed her
blackberry to see who was calling her…it was Angie’s boss Renee.
“Marla! Did you finish everything? I want to stop by and see! I’m not going to make it to the
event, but I want to come and see! And is Jaime there? I want to thank her! And her brother! Is
he as cute as he is on TV? Oh lord…I want to bring the kids…but I think that’s too much!”
“Yes I finished everything..yes they’re both here and actually there are kids all over the place so
I don’t think it would be that big of a deal if you brought them.”
“But you didn’t answer my real question! Is he cute! Did you find Mr. Perfect?”
Marla ran to her car to get a few things to freshen up before the main event. Renee did come and
got very giddy at the thought of her 13 year old daughter meeting a new celebrity.
It was cute and Bruno loved taking pictures with all of them.
Renee asked Jaime if she could use her office to get dressed. Angie joined her as they got
dressed. The two spoke about the rest of Marla’s field placement and getting ready for the event.
Nothing else came up. The tension of the event was mostly in the air.
Marla added the curl she had lost to her hair, added some black eyeliner, pink lipstick and then
finally her heels.
“Oh, Angee….look at what I found at the bottom of the buyer’s box….”
Marla handed Angie the folded Auction sheet.
“Give me your phone…” Angie knew Marla would be too shy to act on this overt sign of
“This is Marla Gonzales from the Mama Earth Charity Auction Gala. This text is to inform you
that you are the winner of items, 39, 455 and 763.”
“Really Angie? Come on. How cheesy. Adults don’t do that.”
“What? It’s cute.” Angie told her.
They opened the door to go to the event. There were several people walking by the door, one of
which was Bruno who happened to be receiving her text message that very moment.
He took her hand gently and with the other motioned her to be quiet.
“What are you doing?” she asked him. “I have to…”
“I do too….” He pressed his lips against her lips and kissed her deeply without asking. She had
no idea what she was getting herself into, nor did he.
“You’re beautiful.” He finished.
“You have a little red on your lips, right there…” she took the tip of her pinkie and wiped it off