Splice of Life

A almost collapsed cake with four lit birthday candles. The cake is greenish. With some chocolate cake poking through the frosting. What a mess. We didn't eat this. It's just a picture from the Internet.

Our neighbors moved a few months back. It’s only a few blocks from here, and they really needed more space. Their new house is terrific. The people who moved into their old house are very nice.

But it’s just not the same. It’s like there is a hunk of film spliced out of the reel. Something is missing.

My dog misses their dog. He’s gone up to their porch to check if his pupster uncle is there. He never is. He doesn’t live there anymore. Or maybe The Beast is just waiting for the door to open. One day they were having a party and he pushed into the house and beelined to the brie wheel on the table which he proceeded to eat in a single gulp. The kids were amazed by his audacity. It might have been their favorite story, ever. I know this because they have told it to me more than once. So maybe the dog’s standing on the porch because he wants more cheese.

I miss watching the kids running to the car in the morning on the their way to school. Sometimes they were in a big hurry and there would be backpacks flying and open jackets and someone carrying their coffee in their almost free hand. Sometimes it would be less frenetic and we would have a short visit. The kids would all ask to come across the street to pet the dog. Even though they had one of their own that they didn’t actively pet.  It was always a charming part of the morning. Sometimes I would bitch about The Spouse. Sometimes she would bitch about hers. Always in a loving way. That’s what neighbors do. Listen to each other bitch about loved ones.

I miss the extended family. Grandma’s and sisters and nephews and cousins. After a while, they all knew me. And I knew them, too. I’d get called over for a glass of wine at the tail of a family party. One day The Spouse brought over the leftover ginger ice cream I made. It was Christmas Day. Another day we were all snowed in and they saw that someone made me a fancy mojito. IN THE WINTER. You know how Facebook makes you jealous of your friends? So I sent the Big Guy over with a summer drink to make them feel less envious. The flow of goods and services frequently criss-crossed the street.

My friend and former neighbor had a birthday party. There was cake. There was dancing to favorite music–Hall and Oats and Skee-lo and some 80s music that I must have slept through but that everyone else knew.  And there was love. My neighbors are spliced out of the daily reel, but still have important scenes. I miss seeing them every day. But am glad I still see them.

Not My Beautiful Cake

David Byrne from Talking Heads in a very ill-fitting and white suit.

He was wearing a department store suit. While he had the trouser legs hemmed and left uncuffed, the attire would have benefitted from additional tailoring. In lieu of that, he could have selected a suit that fit him better.

That wasn’t something he saw. The suit wasn’t too big. It wasn’t too small. It was the right shade of corporate steel-navy. It was buy-one get-one for half price, so it was a value purchase, too. The label on the inside pocket was printed with a name he heard before, or at least a name that sounded like one he knew. It could be a designer’s name. It was definitely not an Italian name.

His wife didn’t see it either. Although the two of them were on the fussy side, the fussiness didn’t extend to the hang of fabric.

His hair was thinning, but was holding onto its off brown color. Off brown in that it was not black, but it didn’t have the warmth a shade of fawn would have. It was a bit steely, without being gray, like the color of his department store suit with less blue.

He couldn’t see the hairless spot at the back of his head. He was ambiently aware that there was less hair there, but he believed there was some. There was actually a barren spot reminiscent of a secret marshy spot, where all the grasses grow long and somewhat willowy around a water-filled hollow. Except the water here was exposed skin.

His gait was like a flat half-skip. His body jangled jauntily as he stepped but his feet barely left the ground. He balanced a huge plastic cake carrier on his left hand. The bottom of the container was dark blue. There was no cake left, but some icing clung to the inside of the dome and was joined by some chocolate flavored crumbs stuck to the edge and along the bottom.

He randomly baked, mostly cakes, mostly from a box, and brought the goods to share at his office. He’d always add something special to the cake, to make it his own like the coaches tell contestants covering Whitney Houston on a singing show. This time he added instant espresso crystals to the Duncan Hines mix for a mocha-flavor. It was his idea. He thought it was very special and very creative. His colleagues thought it made the cake taste bitter and a little burnt. The double coating of frosting was a counterbalance, but they would have eaten it anyway.

He hurried in his half-skip to the escalator and disappeared down the tunnel to the train that would take him home.

Charcoal Cake

Here is what we learned this evening. First, the chocolate cake from the Giant gets dried out after a while. Some people are willing to eat it past perfection.

Second, after a few hot and humid days, there is a danger that the chocolate cake might be a bit moldy. Some people are willing to investigate it closely before deciding on a course of action.

Third, when somebody says to put the cake in the microwave to soften it up, it might be a good idea to request information on timing. Some people are very optimistic about the benefits of microwaving and think that if 2-3 seconds on “HIGH” is good, 30 seconds would be even better.

Fourth, there is something in the Giant chocolate cake slice that interacts with a microwave oven on “HIGH” for 30 seconds similar to a marshmallow being dropped into white hot coals. It smells the same. Some people thought that it might be salvageable, though.

Fifth, if your Dad takes a bite out of said chocolate cake that has been irradiated on “HIGH” for thirty seconds and caused more than a little smoke to emit from said microwave, and is blackened in the middle and hard as a biscotti, you might think about whether or not you want to share said experience. Some people are willing to take the risk. (This is especially interesting since the Dad was the one who suggested the microwave in the first place.)

Sixth, if somebody gives you bad advice once, they may give you bad advice a second time.

Last, you should always have a back-up dessert.