Never a bride. Never a bride’s maid. Heck, I’ve never even been in a wedding party before. But, my sister was getting married, and I would be there for whatever she needed, which was in fact, the cake.
Yep, I was solely in charge of the cake. Everyone else had other responsibilities. All I needed to do was buy a couple dresses for the day, and show up with a beautifully decorated wedding cake.
The dresses were purchased, despite the fact I wasn’t completely in love with one of them, but I still had no idea what my sister wanted the cake to look like. How many tiers? I had no idea. What flavors? No clue. What colors? Oh yeah, that was something I sort knew, considering the fact that I had just purchased a blue dress and a yellow one to boot. So, I in fact, did have a small inkling about the colors. The rest of it was still up in the air—high up in the air—so high, I couldn’t even see it if I squinted.
Timing was running thin. And when I mean thin, I mean it’s the day before the wedding, and I haven’t even started on the cake. Nerves are beginning to set in big time, but I don’t want to keep interrupting the happy couple. It’s their day—the day their lives together will soon start. But it can’t start without all the proper components. The cake being one.
When my stress was too much to bear, I burst open with frustration, forcing my sister and her soon to be husband, in the car, to this little rinky dink cake shop, and made them decide. There was absolutely no time whatsoever to bake a three-tiered cake in less than twenty-four hours. With reluctance, but also a huge amount of desperation, I made my mother purchase two Styrofoam cakes which I would need to pretend with great confidence that they were indeed very real. The top however, would be a scrumptious white cake which they could slice into later at the reception. Yeah, yeah, I know they’re supposed to save that sucker and eat it a year later, but really, gross.
Once I was back at home, Styrofoam cakes stacked, bowls of frosting at hand, I was ready. Or so I thought. I don’t think anyone is ever really truly ready to assemble and decorate a wedding cake. This one was not my first. I had made my cousin’s years prior and ended up with severe muscle cramps and anxiety up the wazoo. I have no idea what in the world made me agree to making another one. Crazy I tell you. I’m crazy.
Things were going pretty well once I had the fake layers stacked. They looked good. Even. Smooth. Frosted. Now the test was to perch the real cake on top of the others. It didn’t look the best, but I pretended it was fine. It would have to be. There was no time for a redo.
About halfway through the assembly, I froze. I had no clue what my next step would be. I was no artist. No ideas seemed to be coming or going for that matter. All I could do was sit and stare at the cake, and think about my growling stomach. Dinner consisted of macaroni and cheese—frozen might I add—and a chorizo sausage—vegetarian might I add. Usually the meal would taste somewhat delicious, but with the half-decorated cake staring back at me, all I could do was worry while I chewed as fast as I could.
My sister’s wedding cake was going to be a disaster, and I knew there was nothing I could do about it. Even though I couldn’t do anything about it, there was someone who could. I was on the phone in seconds, calling my best friend to come over as fast as he could. I was deep in despair and needed moral support, along with someone who could draw.
Thankfully, he lives less than a block away, and was knocking on my door in the matter of minutes. His face said it all. He knew, and I knew, I was well over my head. I needed help, and the only thing left for him to do was to sit down at the kitchen table beside me and offer a helping hand.
The two of us stared at the cake for some time before we began tossing ideas back and forth. Creative juices were beginning to flow, and small amounts of stress were starting to morph into laughter. Friends like him are few and far between. Friends who know just how far they can tease when things are intense. He was always perfect for times like that—brining along his witty attitude and silly demeanor.
When an idea finally arrived, I picked up the piping bag filled with frosting and froze once more as I stared at the cake. I could not bring myself to touch the tip of the frosting to the smooth cake. What if I made a mistake and ruined the entire thing? Again, there was no time to start over again. We’re talking a mere twelve hours to go until go time. And so I stared. Deep heavy breaths came and went as I stared at that white cake with the top beginning to sag a little in all the wrong places. It took everything to get the words out, but when I finally did, I suggested something insane. With a number 2 pencil in hand, I held it out toward my friend, telling him he was going to have to draw on the cake. Most of it was fake anyway, so it didn’t matter. It would be our little secret.
And that is what we did. It was like we were in art class, drawing beautiful designs here and there as we spun the cake around. Actually, I’m overexaggerating. We did not spin anything. Rather, we turned the cake with small precise movements, trying our hardest not to disturb the drooping top layer of real cake.
For the next several moments, he would draw beautiful shapes and I would trace them with my bag of frosting. It worked. Things were beginning to look up. Smiles were remaining upon my lips. I knew a definitive end was in sight. Sweet relief was about to come as I sat my piping bag down, looked at the cake, grinned in delight at what I saw—at what my friend and I had created together—and then I realized I wasn’t quite finished. I still I to transport the thing to the church.
The groom’s cake was much easier. The stress levels lowered considerably as I purchased a dozen donuts from the supermarket, stacked those little glazed covered fried circles of dough on a not so fancy platter, and proceeded to press a pair of deer into the top donut. It was cute. It made everyone who saw it smile. There were no pencil marks on any of the donuts. Oh, and they were all edible. Every last one of them.
The next day the wedding commenced. It was a gorgeous day. The sun was out and about. The wind seemed to take an unexpected vacation. The bride and groom were happy and in love, and I’m certain they still didn’t care one way or another what that blasted cake looked like. They were too focused on each other, like any couple should be.
At the reception, my friend and I stood at the cake table off and on throughout the evening. We were like two up and coming artists experiencing their first art show. We were beyond nerdy. Giggling every time someone complimented our work. We held onto our pencil-secret, only telling a few who thought it was more than funny. Every now and again someone would stop, make us pose for a picture, and more giggling and smiles would linger.
The night was fun. Stress free. The cake was done. It had endured the journey from the house to the church. It was still standing somewhat tall, with the lopsidedness hid strategically in the back. No one would be the wiser. No one, that is, except me and my friend.
Once in a while there would be an older woman—someone’s relative—probably mine—come up to me with a smile. She would lean in with a kind word, and whisper that I would be next. I would giggle, not knowing how to respond. How would someone I didn’t even know think I would be next to be married. It was absurd, but also kind of nice. Secretly, I enjoyed the idea of finding some amazing man who would want to marry a crazy girl like me. One day we would have our own wedding, and some other person would be stressing out while decorating my cake for my own day.
Happily thinking they knew something I didn’t, I beamed throughout the remainder of the evening. Realization struck when I turned to see my friend standing right next to me. He’d been standing there the bulk of the evening. Just my best friend. Just someone I’ve known forever. But what everyone else didn’t know was that he was indeed my best friend, but he also just so happened to be gay. So yeah, there would be no wedding for the two of us. I would not be next. And no, they did not know something I didn’t.