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April 15, 2024

The Wedding Cake

By Chas Wallace

Fashionably Late

"Chef, you seem a bit nervous is everything OK?"

"Oh yeah it is, Ridge Walker, it's just this cake. It's the biggest one I have ever done and I just want to make sure everything goes perfectly."

She showed me a picture of the cake. When she said big she meant big.. It will stand close to three feet tall, and yeah thats a lot of cake, and it will weigh a ton. She's making it at her school in Chelsea which is a good thing because I don't think our car is big enough to fit the whole thing inside it in one trip. We talked for a while and I let her tell me all about the cake and the details of staging, assembling and so forth. I saw her relax a little as she did. This was two days ago and it was right on schedule.

I have been through this countless times with the Chef. Leading up to the final delivery is an ever increasing amount of stress for her. We have never, and I want to stress NEVER delivered a cake where it wasn't a flurry of activity and mad dash out the door sliding just under the wire at the end. I don't think it's in the Chef to deliver one of these things early. I understand this all sounds pejorative and I really don't intend it that way. It is the way I am though. I have written before, but I try very hard not to be late for anything. If you suggest a meeting at 4pm I will be there by 3:45 just to make sure I don't keep you waiting. The Chef would come in fashionably late at 4:10 in a rush. Just like she did the first time I ever saw her at church. It's just the way she is. This time will be different though. Maybe.

We rose, and as agreed drove into the city together this morning. We left the house at 5:44am. At that hour traffic is quite reasonable. We were parked in front of her school on 23rd street at 6:25am. I unloaded her and the fifty pounds of chocolate and what ever else she had. It was too much to 'schlep,' on the train. Driving herself would have entailed parking and a $50.00 fee she didn't want to incur. Here's the thing though. She's going to do it all today. She wont' come home until it's done, meaning ready for transport to the wedding. The delivery is supposed to be at 4pm tomorrow so there should be way more than enough time right?

I know what you're thinking. "Ridge Walker, she's not coming home until Saturday evening." Personally I'm inclined to agree with you. The last train leaves Newark at 2am. I am fully expecting to get a call in the dead of the night asking if I might drive into Newark to pick her up so she doesn't have to sleep on a wooden bench with the rest of the drunks. The rational part of me thinks she can get all this done and be home by 10 or 11pm. I know the Chef though. She will keep polishing and refining to fill the time available. I really don't know when to expect her.

This is you see, one of the significant differences between the Chef and I. I am deadline driven and she is project driven. I will meet the deadline with the best quality I can. She will deliver the product when it is complete and as mentioned above adhere to a deadline only reluctantly. When she first started doing cakes I can't begin to tell you how exasperating this all was to me. Didn't she know we had to be out the door in ten minutes, I would think to myself? We're going to be late! We can't be late! This is unthinkable! Then I realized I was just there for the ride. This was not my affair. Were someone ever to start berating us for holding the entire wedding up, something which never has happened by the way, all I had to do was nod over at the Chef and shrug my shoulders and walk away. The whole cake thing got much easier after that. Now, all I have to worry about is the stress the Chef is doing to her body by staying up for forty eight hours straight every time she does a cake.

If this goes like every other delivery we have made I will ride shotgun with her. I don't drive remember? The worst case scenarios if I do are simply too much for me. I am her Comis. I will help her transport the cake from the car to the wedding hall, wherever that is. She will assemble it while I take a stroll around the facilities. When we are finished, I drive home. She is always asleep before I leave the parking lot because she has been up for forty-eight hours straight. This time will be different though. Maybe.

"This Is Not My Problem"

OK, I'm writing this not to embarrass the Chef or make light of her plight but to show the wide gulf that exists between her and myself. I left work early yesterday about 4:30 or so to swing by the dentist and have him check how my teeth whitening is going. I got the thumbs up on my progress and an indication we were going to be at this a while longer. My teeth weren't third world or anything, but yeah it was time. I got home before six pm. I think I remember turning the television on and seeing the news just come on. The Chef called at about 6pm for a 'joy break.' Yeah, nice right? I am her joy break! I ask her the progress, and remember I dropped her off at 6:30am yesterday morning right? She has been at this for close to twelve hours minus the four or so she's been teaching a class. She tells me she has hours to go and she'll call me. 'Click," her joy break is over. I wonder how much of a lift she got talking to me for those thirty seconds.

Web Master comes in and I ask him his dinner plans because I'm flying solo. He's open so we decide to go to Outback. It's a bit of a wait but we have a nice time together. He and I can talk the same tech language and do so for hours. We start with what we have just read on digg.com and go on from there. This is a pleasant end to the week. It's not that sitting at a desk is at all hard, but working with the talent I do takes it's toll. We get home about 8pm or so. I turn on the television for background while I surf and unwind. About ten pm I start to nod off. Yeah, I know it's not early for you, but remember I get up at 5am every morning to take the Chef to the train. I slide into bed and set the phone next to me.

I get a call at 11pm. I'm not sure if I am sleeping or not. I think I've spent the time in one of those waking dream kind of things where you are dreaming you're awake. It's the Chef and she says she has a couple of hours left. She is either going to call me to pick her up in Newark, if she can get the PATH, or to come into the city. Fine. I fall back into my waking dream. I hear the leaves in our front yard rustling. I lift myself up and see all the trees in our neighborhood sneaking onto our front yard. I don't know why they're doing this but they're not bothering me and they seem to be having fun so I don't mind. I lay back down. A few minutes later the phone rings. It is the Chef. It's 2:38am. She says she's going to stay in the city, which means sleep somewhere at her work where there is no place to lie down let alone sleep other than the floor. I am barely cognizant of anything at this hour so I mumble something. She says she'll call me in the morning for a ride home from the train station.

Fast forward to our drive back into the city at noon today. I ask her how she spent the night. She tells me she slept in a chair. Yeah, you got it right. She had been on her feet for twenty hours straight. She collapsed into a chair. She tells me she almost fell asleep too, but her feet hurt. She she went to the bathroom and filled the sink and soaked her feet in it for a bit. Nice imagery right? Then she went back to flop in her chair. Her feet felt better but now they were cold. She gets up again and finds some chef's coats to wrap around her. Finally she falls asleep, only to be woken when she falls over backward in the chair and hits the floor.

Just so you know, yes, I feel bad about this, really bad. I ask her why she didn't just call me and ask me to pick her up. She tells me that I went way above and beyond by driving her into the city yesterday. She said she would feel bad about asking me to do it twice in one day. I make her promise to err on the side of making such calls in the future. She really has gotten only maybe two hours or so sleep last night.

We talk on the way in and I ask her what she has left. The cakes are all covered and ready to decorate. It doesn't sound like much to me but I know this one is going right down to the wire. It has to. We finally get into the city and see there is the Veterans day parade. Traffic is being rerouted in the most horrible fashion imaginable. I internally start to freak, think we're going to have to go to 27th street to deliver the cake, a few blocks away via Brooklyn, but say nothing. The Chef looks at me reading my mind and with the confidence only available to the totally naïaut:ve, or deadly competent, tells me not to worry, the parade will be over by then. I merely nod and try and block the thought from my mind by repeating my mantra, "This is not my problem," over and over quietly under my breath. Then I see the cake.

Oh! My! God!

This thing is massive. It is six tiers and will stand over thirty inches tall when assembled. I go weak in the knees just seeing it. "What could possibly go wrong," is overloading my mind. I say nothing not wanting to infect the Chef with my genuine fear.

Currently I am hiding in Starbucks on 25th street gathering my courage up for when she makes the phone call telling me she's ready for my help transporting. I'd be drinking Guinness but that would be tempting the three fates altogether too much, in kind of a flipping them off and yelling, "You three old hags don't look so tough, why don't you take your best shot."

Still I will admit I'm starting to feel twinges of guilt for my hiding. The Chef hasn't eaten anything since lunch yesterday and mentioned she was hungry. I ignored her after I saw the cake, but maybe I should gather up what little courage is left and go back and see if I can get her a sandwich or something.

The Chef is tough, far far tougher than I. Ridge Walker is a pansy next to the Chef.

Nice Cake

The cake is beautiful right? Both of us looked at each other after it was over thinking the same thought, "We don't ever want to do this again." We stopped short of voicing the words though. It was unbelievable stress. The Chef handled it quite well actually, with the only sign of any cracking being her saying, "Ridge Walker I'm just beside myself," a couple of times. I'm not really sure what caused all the stress either. The only thing I can come up with is the project was so large. Dropping a birthday cake off for a party of eight even if it was for royalty wouldn't have been this bad. Well, OK, maybe for royalty but you get the idea right? Talking to your friends is easy, talking to 500 of them at once is a little stressful for most of us. We were walking out of the hall as guests were seating themselves. Not that I'm keeping score but yeah, here was another one right down to the wire. I think I'm going to go take a nap. I still haven't recovered.

Article © Chas Wallace. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-12-31
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