Thursday, March 6, 2014

Go-To-Gay: The Icing on the Cake

Introduction by Melissa Amster

Ever since I first saw When Harry Met Sally, the iconic line "I'm gonna be 40...someday!" has always stuck with me. I say it more often as I edge closer than ever to the brink of 40. And it doesn't bother me to reach that milestone age. In fact, I love birthdays! They're an affirmation of life. I'm not even afraid to admit that I'll be 38 in a few months. (However, I don't mind when my kids tell me I'm 30.)

Today, our Go-To-Gay, Wade Rouse is here to talk about birthdays, and more specifically...birthday cake! You'll melt like the ice cream that usually accompanies cake when you read the last part of his essay.

Take it away, Wade...

The Icing on the Cake

As an adult, I used to watch the MTV show, "My Super Sweet 16" with an equal mix of horror and envy.

Lavish birthdays were not a part of my childhood growing up in the 1970s Ozarks. My family wasn't poor by any stretch of the imagination, but we lived more than modestly and any desire for extravagance – be it a pair of Calvin Klein jeans, a pink Izod, a Linda Ronstadt album – was frowned upon.

From one of my Depression-era grandmothers, I always received a dollar for every year I turned on my March birthday. What was exciting at the age of 10, however, was totally lame at the age of 15.

My other grandmother tended to buy me necessary items, like socks or Husky jeans.

But both would bake for me: They would spend hours in the kitchen, creating themed birthday cakes or a tower of iced cupcakes.

As I grew older, I began to realize that what they were baking me was more meaningful than anything they could ever buy and richer than any amount of cash: They were giving me their hearts, their time, their love, themselves.

As I near 50, I don't really recall the games, or clothes they gave me, but I vividly remember the buttercream frosting, the red velvet, the Speed Racer themed birthday cake, the lemon custard-filled cupcakes.

After my grandmothers passed, my birthdays were well celebrated but always had a void. No purchased bakery birthday cake or restaurant cupcake, even topped with burning candles, could fill it.

My first birthday with Gary was filled with presents. Gary loves gifts. If Santa or Cupid ever fell ill, Gary could step in and the world wouldn't even notice.

Gary also loves a bit of extravagance: My favorite (expensive) cologne? Check. That Kenneth Cole jacket? Check.

"It's too much," I said.

"Birthdays are the one day we get to celebrate someone," Gary said, "simply for the miracle of being born and being in our lives."

"I don't know what to say," I replied.

"Wait here," Gary said, getting up from a candlelit table filled with a dinner he had prepared.

A few seconds later, I saw a glow in the kitchen. Gary emerged into the dining room holding a towering cake, its fluffy white icing dotted with candles.

"Where did you get this?" I asked. "It's beautiful."

"I made it," he said. "You know how much I love to bake."

I couldn't help myself: I slid my finger along the side of the cake, scooping a hunk of icing and shoving it into my mouth.

"Buttercream," I sighed.

"Make a wish!" Gary said.

I closed my eyes and then blew out the candles.

"Hope it comes true!" Gary said, slicing the cake and setting a huge slice on my plate.
I took a big bite and closed my eyes again.

It already had.

The writings of bestselling humorist Wade Rouse – called “wise, witty and wicked” by USA Today and the lovechild of Erma Bombeck and David Sedaris – have been featured multiple times on NBC’s Today Show as well as on Chelsea Lately on E! and His latest memoir, It’s All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays and 50 Boxes of Wine (reviewed here) launched in paperback February 1st from Broadway, and he is creator and editor of the humorous dog anthology, I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship: Hilarious, Heartwarming Tales about Man’s Best from America’s Favorite Humorists (NAL). The book features a Foreword by Chelsea Handler’s dog, Chunk, essays by such beloved chick lit authors as Jane Green, and 50 percent of the book’s net royalties go to the Humane Society of the United States. His first memoir, America's Boy, has been re-published by Magnus Books for paperback and Kindle. For more, visit his website, or friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

1 comment:

Janine said...

What a great cake. I love it! Birthdays were never a big deal for me growing up with my family. That was reserved for my younger sister. Me and my step-sister (who is my same age) pretty much got overlooked once the youngest one was born. When I married my first husband, he made birthday celebrations nice. It was tradition to go shopping for an entire day. For that day he was no longer allowed to use his had a tummy ache and wanted to go home (his excuse nearly every time I wanted to go shopping). The husband I have now, his mom makes a big deal out of everyone's birthday and we all get together for a special meal. I feel spoiled. I just turned 49 last month. I don't fear 50. It's just a number. Bring it on.