August 22, 2021, Mary Pat Johns
Our Bible Study group had their annual kick-off-the-year coffee event, and it was my job to serve birthday cake and line up whoever else I needed to help. So when I saw an exercise buddy who also does the Bible Study, I offhandedly asked, “Wanna help me serve cake?” Her immediate “Count me in” cinched it. Nothing complicated about serving cake, but life is better with a buddy.
And while we were at it, we might as well snap pictures too, but getting the three birthday girls together was like herding cats—my eighty-five-year-old mama being one of them. Fortunately, I had taken a picture of the cake earlier, so we did at least have a record of it. More on that subject later.
It was one of those ginormous sheet cakes, one side vanilla, and the other side chocolate. Due to my buddy’s subtle hint about pre-plating, the serving gig went off without a hitch. Afterward, the prep team cleared the refreshment table, and the question of what to do with the leftover cake came up. Since the birthday ladies had already disappeared, I volunteered to take it to the senior retirement village and let my mom share it with the other residents.
However, before my departure, my cousin noticed my shoes. So, still holding my purse, a bag, and the cake, I slipped one off so she could peek at the brand, then she put it back on and got the heel situated—we’ve been doing stuff like this for years, but maybe it’s just a woman thing.
After the shoe check, I walked outside with all my paraphernalia. It was a scorchingly bright South Texas day, and I have to admit, a grumpy thought crossed my mind about the extra task. Then, out of nowhere, a squirrelly wind yanked the cake out of my hands. The carefully fastened lid blew one way. The bottom support sailed off in another direction, and the leftover cake splattered on the asphalt. Dismayed, I stood there for a second, then picked up the bottom pieces and proceeded to chase down the lid. Trudging back, I wondered what to do about the cake—it lay glistening in the sun, a total loss. The pastel frosting had smeared into gaily-colored blobs between ignominious piles of brown and white cake.
I thought about getting in the car and driving off when a voice behind me shouted, “What have you done, Mary Pat?” Come to find out, my serving buddy had observed the whole debacle.
As we scratched our heads and wondered how to clean up the mess, somehow it became funny. Amid giggles, I snagged the two bottom pieces under my foot and put on a glove. She held the lid while I scraped cake off the pavement into it. We walked back inside to throw the defunct cake away, making a valiant attempt to stay composed. But when we passed through the cleanup committee, and the inevitable questions surfaced—“Why are you back?” and “Oh, no, what happened?”—we dissolved into fits of laughter all over again. Finally, we explained while Karen wiped frosting off my pants.
One errant gust and the leftover cake turned into a kite. Who’d a thunk it? But my work (and internal complaining) were done. The seniors certainly wouldn’t miss what they never had—even if it was birthday cake.
Actually, we captured several memories during our yearly “coffee.” The Bible Study ladies were thrilled to see each other in person after a year of zoom. The birthday girls got honored, and we welcomed newcomers into our fun group.
But I’ll never forget the day God cemented a friendship—with frosting.