My Daily Cake (Written on April 17th, 2020)

One week ago today (which happened to be a Good Friday), this heathen decided to bake a cake. What kind, you may ask? Devil’s food, of course. No real connection there between beliefs and tastebud desires, I assure you. Devil’s food just happens to be the only cake recipe I have for which I also had the ingredients. Believe me–I would rather have had pistachio, but that wasn’t on my mind when I made my last grocery store run. If this were any other time than during a statewide stay-at-home order, I might have ventured out to get what I’d need to remedy that. But, here we are and here I am: at home with this 9×13 inch casserole pan partially full of imminent regret.
*
Making a cake under normal (not these) circumstances isn’t usually that big of a deal. As this past week has shown (in comparison to past cakes in my life), I’m not eating it very quickly, even though I’m eating some every single day–and not very small pieces either. It’s been a week and I still have just under half a cake left. Chances are, on April 24th, 2020 (a week from today), I’m still going to be eating this carbo-bomb, aptly described for the two cups of confectioner’s sugar in the frosting alone. Thank goodness I used decaf coffee in the cake batter. Can you imagine?? If I’d used all that sugar and caffeinated coffee during a quarantining? And inside a very small apartment, might I add. Horrors the likes of which no horror has ever been horrified before.
*
Anyway, I’m about convinced that it made some kind of it’s own pact with the devil in my fridge and has been multiplying like one of those salads that just never seems to end, and causes you to chew until your jaw hurts. Cows don’t have that problem–they can chew for hours and you never see them complain about it. They also don’t eat cake. This has also been kind of like those endless strands of spaghetti on a date night, that have no intentions of nourishing you. They’re just stringy imps of gluten that insist on making a slow, betraying appearance at “middle ground” some time later on, like just before putting on a favorite outfit for the next big date. I know you know what I am talking about.
*
So a week from today: maybe by then I’ll be finishing up this never-ending delectable. Mostly because, in good conscience, I must. And in a time when pretty much everything I put into it has been scarce on the shelves because everyone suddenly must bake for their lives, let’s not waste cake. Here’s hoping I won’t waist it either.
*
It’s hard to say whether making a cake was really a wise choice, given the circumstances of social distancing. I could get out for walks, but I haven’t, really. Some might say that the properties in chocolate are comforting so it’s okay, and I can’t much argue the comfort factor of just-slightly-melting peanut butter frosting on a just-slightly-warm piece of cake–but no doubt I’m racking up the cortisol like a telethon racks up dollars. Only the cortisol isn’t going to go off to a better cause, and because of that, neither are the calories. This cake could be hanging around for much longer than a couple of weeks. I know this, and yet at ten o’clock every morning since April 11th, I have my daily cake. It has become a ritual–an expectation, almost. Even long after the cake itself is gone, and even if it doesn’t stick around certain areas of my physique, we all know it’s not really going to be gone at all.
*
If you’re anything like me, you tend to draw lines between thoughts and things and situations. Kind of like how I played Crunch Time on my phone once for the entire duration of a double feature of Big Trouble in Little China and Resident Evil, and now I can’t think of any one of those without the other. Or how every time I move and spend weeks looking for boxes after work and on weekends, the residue of looking for boxes is still there every Monday through Friday at 5pm and all day Saturdays and Sundays long after I’ve already unpacked at the new place and dumped the cardboard in a recycling dumpster. Out of sight, stuck in the craw.
*
For a long time to come, I will think about a piece of devil’s food cake with peanut butter frosting at ten A.M., just as I will associate that same cake with the time a virus was sweeping over the world and picking off victims like the torrent of waves released from a suddenly breached dam. I’ll continue to shop like I don’t know when I’ll have my next paycheck, even though I’ve been one of the luckier ones through this and have still been working from home, and flinch if there’s an empty spot on a grocery store shelf–even if I will never, if I can help it, eat hominy or boxed mac-n-cheese, or smoked oysters.
*
I’ll probably also go back to looking out for others more than for myself, which isn’t always a bad thing when done reasonably. I’ll go back to acting on my plans, grateful that I made them before all this started, because I know what effort it would otherwise take if I had to rely on starting cold to move forward again. And I will go forward, holding those close to me even closer, because the sweetness of my last seven-to-however-many ten A.M.s can’t compare to the sweetness of having those people in my life.
*
When this has passed, and long after that pyrex dish has been emptied and washed, and my cat climbs into it for the hundredth time because it’s in her way on the kitchen table, there will be cake again–for celebrating, for savoring, for just because. And for remembering, daily, what other things always get me through.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *