Saved by the Birthday Cake
Layce and I were having coffee and red velvet cake—a newly discovered southern delight for me.
“Did you know that a German chocolate cake once saved my life?” I asked.
“I did not. Do share,” Layce said, taking a bite of cake.
“I’m glad it wasn’t a red velvet cake,” I said.
“Because?” She had that knowing look that said this-is-going-to-be-a-tangential-conversation. Luckily, the red velvet cake made her a captive audience. I knew she wouldn’t leave as long as there was cake on her plate.
I thought about that “captive audience” thing. Was that always taken in the context of a good thing? The writer had a captive audience. Maybe the audience didn’t have a choice. How much confidence does a person have to have to get up in the middle of any performance and walk out, ostensibly saying, “I do not like this and I refuse to be part of a captive audience. I have free will. I was endowed with free will. It’s in the Constitution. I do not have to be held captive.”
“Now about that cake saving your life,” she prodded. She was down to three bites of red velvet. If I was going to tell my tale of life and death I better get on it.
“Oh, right. Well I was six years-old and in the back seat of the big Ford station wagon. You remember the ones where the back seat was big enough for five small children, two dogs, assorted toys…”
“Yes, I remember,” Layce interjected.
“And when the no-seatbelt, no under-60-pounds booster seats, no seatbelts for dogs…”
“Yes, I remember.” She was down to two bites. I hadn’t even started in on my cake. I would be eating alone.
“I was in the back seat with no seat belt and we were late for the party. I’d had a wardrobe issue.”
I didn’t know where she was going with that. I admit to having worn up to six outfits in one day depending on activities and the weather. Just yesterday, I started out in my pajamas. Then I changed into my Under Armour work out shorts. The weather turned cold so I had to put on my wind work out pants. I haven’t worn them all summer and I discovered that one side of them had shrunk or the liner was doing something funny because they were tighter. It could have been a weight issue except that it was only on one side. I checked them out in the mirror. Yes, it was definitely only one butt cheek. It was a wardrobe malfunction. This facilitated a wardrobe change. I finally came downstairs in my hiking windproof pants.
We went to the farmer’s market. When I came home we decided to have a reading day because we couldn’t go hiking as planned. The house was cold since we hadn’t turned on the heat yet—it not being that cold, so I changed into my flannel lounging pants. Then it warmed up so I was back to the shorts. I’d spent more time changing that doing anything else.
“The story of about the life-saving cake?” Layce prodded.
I tried to focus. “So we were late and my mother took a corner fast. The back door flew open and me and the cake went sliding out.”
“Oh, my God,” Layce said.
I had her attention now. “I might not have been here. I might have suffered a BLUNT TRAUMA to the head. We’d never have married and I wouldn’t have been a parent and we never would have written two books together and made all those people laugh and realized our dharma of being the Johnny Appleseed of dopamine.”
“My head landed on the cake. I was dressed in lederhosen head-to-toe, a last minute wardrobe change. I wanted to be German since we were having German chocolate cake, so there was minimum road rash.
My mother never had a problem with my wardrobe changes after that. It was like I was the Cassandra of Troy knowing what to wear for each potentially life threatening event.”
“What happened next?”
“We were late for the party,” I said.
“Well, we had to go buy another cake and there were some first aid issues and my mother had a minor break down. I think being late was to be expected.”
Layce exercised her constitutional right to not be held captive.
I ate alone.
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