Cake is something that I like but that I don’t have very often. It seems accessible enough, but to me remained a special occasion thing. The tradition in my family was that everyone had their favorite cake. For my father, that was blackberry and every July 30th, she would bake him a blackberry cake and we would eat it. For us kids, the cakes started as themes.
“What do you want on your birthday cake?”, mom would ask. For me it was airplanes, I think my brother had a moon cake complete with a lunar lander one time. I especially remember my 5th and 7th year cakes, with little toy airplanes on top them.
As we kids got older, the themes of superheros, popular culture icons, and aspirations would fade and be replaced by flavors. Me, I like chocolate cake. As much as I like chocolate, I find chocolate icing on a chocolate cake to be too much, so my icing of choice is white. Pure white sugar is still a tad too much, so i’ve taken a shine to the Betty Crocker “cream cheese” flavored icing.
So there you have it, my favorite cake is chocolate with faux cream cheese flavored icing.
As a young child I didn’t really care for the blackberry cakes that my mother would make for my father. There was no icing, it was a bundt style cake. But over the years I grew to appreciate it and I looked forward to them. I also grew to look forward to my special cake.
When I got married, my spouse took over the tradition of the cake making from my mother. And then, as our marriage started winding down, the cakes stopped. At first replaced with my favorite pie (Cherry), and then not at all.
My first birthday after my marriage ended, I decided to make the cake for myself. I got a couple of cake pans, and followed the directions on the Betty Crocker box. While my cake wasn’t perfectly shaped, and crumbled a bit as I iced it, the taste was there. It felt good to do this for myself. I got what I wanted and it was the way that I wanted it.
This year, the second birthday on my own, I have a girlfriend. She is sweet and she wants to do things for me. After my birthday passed without a cake, the next weekend I told her that I was going to make myself my favorite cake.
“I can bake!”, she said. She wanted to make me the cake. She asked my favorite and I told her.
Here’s where I need to take a little detour and explain something about myself. I am pretty selfless and conciliatory. i am an introvert and I like to be alone a lot. That said, I believe we are here in this world together and for the purpose of being together so I try and try to understand and be a part of human society. People say that I am quiet. I can tell you a thing about my introversion and one of the principals behind it. I believe in being courteous. To me, that means not intruding on another’s time, life experience, or even expectations. I stay out of people’s way. I don’t believe in bothering someone unless I need something from them and can offer something in return. I am really self-sufficient. This is all courtesy to me.
This courtesy, this politeness, this selflessness – it gets me into trouble. I really don’t like letting people down even to assert my own enjoyment, happiness or preference. But then I am disappointed in myself and the situation. I chalk it up to being with people and that is work. Sometimes it is really just “enduring” – that’s the word I use in my head as my patience wears thin and my “nice” filters drop a bit.
So back to the cake story. While I insisted that Betty Crocker mix and icing was just fine, my girlfriend insisted on going to the grocery and getting all of the ingredients to make it from scratch. I didn’t have a mixer, so we split up the shopping and I went to get the mixer and she went to the grocery. This cake cost almost $100. I was really disappointed with the money spent and she says “I’m just trying to do something nice for you!”. It was clear to me then that I should’ve insisted on Betty Crocker.
In the end, she made the cake that she wanted after hours and hours of taking over the kitchen. She’s someone that works hard, not smart. My frustration was more that I was stuck babysitting and unable to cook dinner while she did this. Finally at 9:45pm I went out and cooked dinner – whipping up a pasta, alfredo and ahi tuna dish in 15 minutes.
I am thinking about making my own cake – in a clandestine manner to save feelings of course. Maybe that will at least appease myself and my expectation, but I hope that writing this journal about my interactions, biases, and expectations will fulfill whatever the bother truly is. The end result cake is very rich and sweet and I don’t think I’ll be eating any more sweets for a while.
I can identify with wanting to do or make something for someone that you think is great, but isn’t what they want. Our own biases and expectations seem to come into play even when doing something for someone else. This will serve as a reminder to me to be aware of this and to be conscious of fulfilling the needs/wants/desires/expectations of the person that I’m wanting to do the thing for instead of bringing my own taste into the mix.