by Kathleen Bradean
I'm sort of meh about my birthday. I don't mind getting older. I don’t care if people know how old I am (48). But even for my wedding, that whole queen for a day thing never interested me much. Perhaps that's why I was so happy being crew for high school plays and miserable when I was in the cast. Behind the scenes was my little world - invisible, comfortable, and the calm eye of the storm of chaos swirling around it. Onstage is... you'd have to have seen Apocalypse Now to get this reference, but "The horror, the horror!"
I like gifts such as editing on my manuscript or website design. No one likes giving something like that as a gift though. I've been told that I'm hard to shop for. That's all right since my counterpart is just as difficult. And we're okay with shopping for ourselves. (Although this year he found some very cool steampunky things for me - a ray gun and a clock. I'm a huge clockworks fan. So I was enchanted.)
But there is one thing I've never had for a birthday that I wouldn't mind having. I'd like one very lovely custom multi-tiered birthday cake, just for once. Part of this goes back to my wedding, where the cake would have qualified for the website Cake Wrecks if there had been such a thing way back when. Instead of clusters of wisteria cascading elegantly down the side of an ivory cake, we had purple icing dots arranged in triangles sort of like an overhead view of bowling pins. They didn't even embellish the purple dots with green leaves, which would have made the design vaguely resemble something botanical- maybe a cluster of grapes if you squinted right - but the baker couldn't be bothered to make that much of an effort even though I gave him the beginners cake decorating book with step-by-step instructions on how to make it. Yeah. Married 28 years and I'm still not over that. So I want another cake, and this time, I want it to look - and taste - spectacular.
However, I've often found that wanting things is much more fun than having them. For now, I get to imagine thousands of different cakes that I could get. A Maleficent cake? Steampunk? Art Deco? Jules Vernes? An octopus? Jules Vernes AND an Octopus? There are so many ways to go, and in my imagination, I can go everywhere and have it all. Once it's ordered, I only get the one. Plus, there's that slightly odd problem of wanting this huge cake but cringing at the thought of enduring the birthday party where it would be served. I'm all for having my cake and eating it too, but not three tiers, and not all by myself.