Saturday, September 15, 2007

No really, Mom...we're cool.

Published September 15, 2007
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

I woke up this morning a full half hour before I need to wake up to get to work on time. This is quite a feat, considering most mornings I wake up a full 15 minutes after I need to wake up to get to work on time. Not much, short of a road trip, gets me out of bed any earlier than I have to be up. Not much, that is, except for Stripe it Rich Cake.

Stripe it Rich Cake is my favorite cake in the whole wide world (my birthday is December 20th. Many of you should start taking Some people call it a "Jello Poke Cake." Whatever the name, it is a cake pan full of moist, pudding filled perfection. It's made by poking rows of holes into a freshly baked cake, then pouring freshly mixed pudding over the top, then chilling, frosting, and serving. The result is pure heaven. I made the cake for a coworker's birthday, and not even a speck of it was left in the pan five minutes after it was unveiled.

The Stripe it Rich Cake has an interesting history in my life. There's a whole story behind it...a painfully tragic story involving a much younger me, and the cake that, seemingly, could never be mine. It's much too long (and painful and tragic) for a Mother Load column, at least in the version I usually tell. I'll sum up as best I can:

Birthday #5 or 6: I had my first taste of Stripe it Rich Cake and fell in love. Birthdays #6 or 7 to #17: I asked for a Stripe it Rich Cake to no avail. Birthday #17, I told my sob story to a friend who promptly called my mother for the recipe and made the cake for me. A few months later, my younger sister, Carla, got the cake from my mom for her 16th birthday without even requesting it.

And then...Birthday #18. I came home from school to find two cakes on the counter, waiting to be frosted. The first was a plain chocolate cake. The second had the telltale holes. At long last, my mother had come through! There sat a Stripe it Rich Cake just for me! Carla and I were so excited we frosted both cakes and each took a beautiful, perfect piece from the cake of my dreams. Oh, the exquisite joy of it. It was heaven, and it was mine.

Only it wasn't mine. Mom came home, saw the missing pieces of cake and let out a shout. "That wasn't your cake! That cake was for Young Women's night at church. THAT (indicating the untouched, plain chocolate cake) was your cake!"

Oh, the ironic tragedy of it all! It's nearly Shakespearean, don't you think? All I need to complete it is a balcony, a trio of witches, and a talking skull and this thing could play on Broadway. I've been telling my story for about 12 years now in a one woman show, complete with voices, outrageous gestures, and the occasional costume, to anyone who would listen. It's my "Oh my gosh, I was the forgotten middle child and nobody loved me. Isn't my life so hard?" story.

It was when I told the story a few weeks ago that I realized those stolen bites of the cake that was not mine were the last bites of Stripe it Rich cake I'd had. I spent over ten years hoping for the cake as a kid, and in 12 years of adulthood, and I hadn't ever made the cake for myself. After all, if I made myself a Stripe it Rich Cake, where would all my underprivileged pining go? What would become of my story if I just started gifting myself the cake to end all cakes?

I looked briefly at the options. Bitterness/cake. Whiny story/cake. Shakespearean tragedy/CAKE! I made a command decision. I made a Stripe it Rich Cake. Today, I made another. In the coming weeks, I will make more. I'm sure of it. What? You won a free pedicure? Let's have some cake! What? It's National Toenail Awareness week? I'll bake a cake! What? You just saved a bunch of money on your car insurance? CAKE!

The whiny voice inside of me is saying, "But, but, story..." I'm still trying to convince it that I forgave my mother years ago, that I'm probably not remembering the story correctly anyway, and that harboring resentment over something as silly as cake is, well, silly. I don't know if it's working, but I keep trying.

The voice quiets down when I stuff it with cake, so I'm hopeful.