I hate cooking.
And I like baking even less.
But the Buddha belly and I are strong advocates for eating.
So over the years, I’ve become a quasi-good cook – out of simple necessity.
Years ago, I naively volunteered to bake a cake for a friend of mine, who’s the female version of the Cake Boss (only sweeter!).
Exactly why I volunteered for such a self-defeating, herculean feat, I have no idea.
But volunteer I did.
I never baked a cake before and figured my Mom’s stand-by Duncan Hine’s yellow cake mix would be the easiest way to go.
“After all,” I reasoned, “What could go wrong with a simple box mix?”
“It’s a pretty straight forward recipe of eggs, water and oil. You mix it all together, dump it into a pan, slide it into the oven and voila!”
“A cake fit for a queen!”
Well, I learned that night that it’s important to have all of the ingredients before you start making it, or you’re liable to find yourself scrambling downstairs to your neighbors to borrow some, if you don’t.
And that, People, is where the story gets a little kooky.
I only had a couple of hours to get the cake baked, cooled and frosted before my friend picked me up to drive me to said birthday girl’s house; when I discovered that I didn’t have any eggs.
I didn’t want to waste time to go to the grocers to buy them, so I slipped downstairs to my friend’s flat and discovered that her kids were home alone, while she went on a quick errand; and they had just smashed one of the front door windows while playing indoor broom hockey.
Being the responsible friend and neighbor that I am, I didn’t want to leave the hellions with broken glass in the door and on the porch; so I ran upstairs, grabbed a pair of pliers, a broom and dust pan; and quickly headed back down to tidy things up and make everything safe, again.
Not exactly the female version of “Tim the Tool man”, I took the pliers and grabbed ahold of the bottom, broken piece of glass; and while yanking it out, accidently grazed the fingers of my right hand against the serrated edges of the broken glass protruding from the top of the window pane, and sliced-opened the top of my four fingers.
So now, on top of broken glass all over the porch and inside the entry way, I’m presented with a screaming munchkin that’s thoroughly traumatized by all the blood from my cut and I’m seriously thinking, “Well, isn’t this a swell kettle of fish I’ve got myself into? The oldest kid is already in weekly therapy sessions-maybe their therapist has a group discount for the whole brood of little buggers?!”
I calm-down the small fry, grab a roll of paper towels, start wrapping my hand in it and continue cleaning up the broken glass, when it slowly dawns on me – “Lucie, you’ve just gone through half a roll of paper towels in a short time and your bleeding is out of control. Unless you want to faint in front of these little rascals, and send all of them into extensive therapy (well into their old age), you’d better get your uncle on the phone and get some assistance.”
So, up to my apartment I scooted, and call him I did.
My uncle, who lived a block away from me at the time, listens to me rattle-on about my “bleeding to death” in front of these kids, and then calmly says to me, “Lucie, you’ve got a whole half-a-roll of paper towels left, right?”
“Yes,” I nervously answered.
“Well, relax,” my uncle calmly says.
“Make your cake, and if you’re still bleeding by the time you finish the other half-a-roll of paper towels, call me back, and I’ll take you to the ER for stitches.”
“Great,” I’m thinking to myself. “Nice to know my uncle’s got my best interest at heart. Let’s hope to hell these paper towels I’m using are the more absorbent brand, or I’m up the proverbial creek without a paddle!”
I make the cake, throw it into the oven, and discover (to my dismay) the two eggs that I borrowed from my neighbor, glaring back at me from the top of my kitchen counter.
Lovely, just lovely.
After all this, my cake is “egg-less” and my fingers are still bleeding.
In the meantime, my uncle apparently reconsidered his sage medical advice and comes shuffling into my apartment to make sure I haven’t bled to death, only to find me teary-eyed and totally stressed-out, ‘cuz my cake is missing eggs; I can’t get my hand to stop bleeding and my ride is supposed to pick me up shortly and I don’t have the birthday cake made.
Long story short – my uncle gets my bloody hand under control, we got another cake mix and I mix together another cake in time for my friend’s pick-up, but did not have the time to put the frosting on because the cake was too warm.
“Not to worry,” my friend, Judy, assured me when she discovers my dilemma.
“While I’m driving,” she continues, “you stick the cake out the window, cool it off and we’ll slap-on the frosting and birthday greeting when we get to Rosie’s house and everything will be hunky-dory.”
Everything was the bee’s knees, until Jute hit a pot-hole and sent the cake flying out of the pan into the air; forcing me to lean out the window, juggling the pan back and forth, to catch it on its way down.
Swell, just swell!
So, now we’ve got a car that needs a front end alignment, a cake that needs some heavy duty culinary repair work and me with a bandaged hand that was still dripping blood on everything and anything and badly in need of some medical attention.
Could anything else go wrong that night?
We got to the house in time for me to whip together the frosting, when my other friend came strolling into the kitchen where I was working my magic; eyeballed the cake and the frosting that I was making, and says, “What the hell happened to the cake?”
“And,” she continues, “What ta shit is with the ugly pink frosting?”
Just when I thought things couldn’t have gotten any worse, I discovered that my fingers had been bleeding through the bandages into the vanilla frosting.
While I tended to my bleeding hand, I got my friend to make another batch of frosting, minus the added rose tinting.
We get the frosting on the cake just in time for Rosie’s grand entrance to yell, “Surprise!” and sing “Happy Birthday!”, when Rosie leans over, smiles and says, “Thanks, Luce, for the cake, but what’s with the ‘Happy Birtaday, Rosie’ written on it?”
Cavolo! (Literal translation, cabbage or holy crap!)
That was the FIRST and the LAST birthday cake that I ever made, People.
Rosie is the baker in our friendship and I’m the willing recipient of her scrumptious creations.
It’s been a successful friendship now for over 35 years, so why mess with perfection?
Have a grand day, People, and I’ll catch you next adventure, looking at life from my shoes.