(Excerpted from my new book, Radiant Beams, available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com)
I was late for the preschool carnival, and hadn’t yet made the fluffy marshmallow frosting for the cake I’d promised to bring for the cake-walk.
The smart thing would have been to order a cake, or at least pick up some store-bought frosting to slap on a quickly-fixed homemade cake and go. But ohhh, nooo. Mine had to be the fanciest homemade cake on the planet.
I was . . . Madame Perfecto!
With one child attached to my left shin and the other child swinging from the chandelier, with dried juice on the floor collecting enough dirt to resemble the dots on a map of the United States, with the dog barking and the phone ringing and the potted plants gasping their last because they hadn’t been watered since the Reagan years, I started to make the frosting.
For marshmallow frosting, you have to heat the ingredients in a pot on the stove and use a hand-held mixer to whip it into a froth. Heat and beat. You know?
But I was the one whipped into a froth. Only after I got started did I remember that one of the beaters of my hand-held mixer was missing.
WHO LOSES ONE BEATER?!? Madame Perfecto could never admit that she might actually have made a (CROWD GASPS) (ORGAN MUSIC) mistake. So I kept on trying to make the frosting, anyway.
Have you ever tried to make fluffy frosting with just one beater? You can’t, excuse the expression, beat it. What are you supposed to do, wiggle the pan or run circles around it while you’re beating it with one lousy, ineffective beater?
Alternatives. What are my alternatives? I thought of the 20-horse fishing motor. That propeller goes around plenty fast! But it was clear out at the back of the garage. Electric screwdriver? Meh. How do you sanitize such a thing? There just wasn’t time.
Consequently, the frosting wasn’t fluffy. It wasn’t even frothy. It was thin. It was runny. It was gloppy. Glop would have to do. I spread the frosting out on the cake.
It ran down the sides and pooled on the plate. I scraped it back up onto the top again. It ran down the sides and pooled on the plate.
We had to go. I strapped the kids in the back seat, put the cake on the seat beside me, spatula in hand, and laid scratch. At every red light, I scraped the frosting back up onto the top of the cake. By the next intersection, it had run down the sides and pooled on the plate.
When we arrived at the carnival, I thought of creating a diversion, like starting the clown’s hair on fire, so nobody would see me walking in with my Pool of Cake. Somehow, I slipped it into the cake-walk lineup without being seen.
When the carnival ended, more than 200 lovely cakes had been joyously selected from the cakewalk. But there was one lonely, misshapen, sad little cake left over. It was no longer Pool of Cake. It was now Swamp of Cake. Nobody in six counties was willing to claim it. Least of all me.
I rejected it and abandoned it, and have never expressed so much as a tinge of remorse. This was nothing new: I have made some pretty strange and deranged cakes in my time. Lopsided. Cavernous. Crumb-bedecked frosting. You name it.
OK, so Martha Stewart, I ain’t. The cake incident exposed Madame Perfecto for the sham I am. My pride, ego and over-confidence greatly outstrip my actual homemaking skills. God didn’t make us all equally good in the domestic arts. AND THAT’S OK!!!
There are cobwebs over my rags and cleaners. Visitors think the dog-snot swirls and blotches on the sliding glass door are actually an expensive frosted-glass motif. They think my socks are hand-knit from fabulous yarns from South America, when it’s really just the collected dog hair since the vacuum has been broken for I don’t know how long.
My carpet looks like it has patterns, but when installed, it was a solid color. I wash my hair with dog shampoo and vice versa because the bottles look the same, I’m near-sighted, and what the heck.
I once had to jackhammer a frozen dessert out of the dish when I forgot to use cooking spray. Literally used a cordless power drill. (The drill bit was clean!!! Don’t worry!!!)
My kids repair rips in their hems with masking tape. I am so lazy I only iron the FRONTS of blouses, figuring a jacket or sweater will hide the wrinkles on the backs and sleeves.
I once served ice-cold BBQ beef at a big party, mystified by why it hadn’t heated up, and what was the “funny smell.” After the party I discovered I’d put the rented serving piece together upside down. The sterno melted the plastic handle instead of warming the beef. So THAT was the funny smell, and that’s why the beef was cold. Ohhhhh.
But back to cake. Another cake story proves I’m not the worst homemaker in the world. Nowhere near the most creative one, either!
See, one of the “other mothers” once confessed that she had gotten too busy to get ready for her son’s birthday party adequately. The worst thing was, she forgot to bake the cake. Oh, no! But ding-dong! The hyperventilating party guests were here! She had the boxed mix, but no cake.
What’s a mother to do? Improvise!
She made up the mix, sat the boys down on the floor in a circle, stuck candles in the batter, had them sing, and had her son make a wish and blow out the candles.
Then she let each boy lick one candle, something their own mothers NEVER let them do.
THEN, best of all, she told them that just this once, they were going to get a special treat. Instead of eating a piece of baked cake with a boring old fork, they were going to get to eat Birthday Batter – right out of the bowl – with their FINGERS!!!
Riotous fun ensued!
All agreed it was the best birthday party EV-er by the coolest mom EV-er.
I kneel and kiss the hem of greatness. †
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling,
and to present you faultless
before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. . . .
— Jude 24
By Susan Darst Williams www.DailySusan.com Radiant Beams Vol. I © 2016