It can be said that strawberries are undisputedly good.
This is a truth universal in nature.
Strawberries are good, and so is cake. Combine these two things. No one will argue.
What you do when you can’t convince that boy you love with all the bite-size pieces of your heart to simply love you back? You bake a fucking cake, and then you top it off with berries.
I’m not talking about any of that mix-in-a-box shit, no Betty Crocker or Sara Lee, no ‘high altitude’ adjustments or figuring out which kind of pan you have. Because metal or dark metal–does that even really matter? I mean, is that really going to make a difference? You will have a cake, and it will smell awesome, and I don’t think that cake is going to know the place where it came from.
This is about sweetness, about sugar, about the things you do to make yourself feel better. This is not, I should say, about women’s issues, or femininity. This isn’t about what it is to hold a heaving child against your bosom. It has nothing in the world to do with stereotypes. We are not defeating anything.
This is about cake.
It is also about work–the physicality of the process, the mixing and the sifting, the wooden spoons and the wire whisk and those tiny tin measuring cups your mother gave to you way back when you were an itty bitty person, and she pulled that kitchen chair over–that wooden one with the off-color grooves–and she measured the flour with her finger and then let you dump it in, because you were little, remember, but you could be counted on to do that much. This is about those measuring cups, remember, with the uneven coloring and the million shades of gray, and normally you keep them buried under things in some drawer because you are not some little girl–you are a woman and you are out doing womanly things, like running miles with your hair pinned back in a way that is sexy, or flirting with men, or stabbing the olive at the bottom of your glass with your straw and then pulling it off the tip with your lips, firm, around that olive, saying to the man you are with, “This is so good,” even though it isn’t, because it’s only just an olive, it is only just an olive, and then you will go home without that man and you will sit on your couch and you will wonder, Is this about that olive? Is this because I didn’t take that olive in a way that was sexy?
Can you take an olive in a way that is sexy?
This is not about phallic imagery.
Remember: This is about labor. This is the labor of love you perform when that first labor of love isn’t working–his body, and your body, and some navy blue bed sheets that smell like scalp but in a way that is good, in a way that you really kind of like. This is about that other kind of labor, that second kind, that kind that you do in your kitchen when the light is nice, and maybe there’s some candles lit, because it is nice to bake a cake to vanilla bean melting wax–you can see the future and it smells good!–and your iTunes is playing some Edith Piaf on a playlist you titled ‘Relevant’ because you are a woman, remember, and this is the most modern century there is.
This is not about intellectualism, or the way it feels when you’ve kept your hair pinned back in a bun all day because you are a teacher, a professional one. Those kids, remember, they aren’t much younger than you. But a pencil skirt will fix that, won’t it?, and also the bobby-pinned hair. That will trick them.
Remember: This is not about conceit.
This is mostly about chocolate.
This is about the way it feels to slather something thick on a cake and think, I am going to eat that. Because you are going to get to eat that, all of it, sitting in your nubby pajamas on your couch watching Intervention, thinking, Oh my god, I am so glad I am not drinking Listerine from the bottle like that girl. It could be so much worse. Because it’s true, it could be worse. It could be so much worse.
This is not about having your cake and eating it too. I know that it seems like that, but really, it’s not.
This is just about icing, okay?, and a lot of it: chocolate or vanilla or strawberry or coconut or lemon that you made with freshly squeezed lemons–you rolled them around on the wooden cutting board so the juice loosened from the skin, and then you sliced through their peel, and you squeezed the pulp, plucking the seeds from the icing with the littlest spoon you could find. You top it with berries, and maybe you peel the lemon, too, so there are little curls of lemon, and it all looks so pretty, so festive, somehow so feminine. You slice that cake with a metal serving spatula that is silver and shiny, one that you imagined you would one day cut your wedding cake with but here you are, and you pair the cake with a well-bodied glass of chardonnay, maybe one you thought you would share with someone but here you are, and none of that matters anyway because you are not that Listerine girl.
What I am telling you is this: There is a cake, and it smells awesome, and you should eat it.
And that boy who doesn’t love you with the bite-size pieces of his heart–that is okay, because you are a woman, and you can bake a cake, and there are berries on that cake, and look, would you just look, at all of the things you have done.