Let me see you do the ragtime dance,
turn left and do the cakewalk prance,
turn the other way and do the slow drag
Now take your lady to the World’s Fair,
and do the ragtime dance. – Scott Joplin
“Mom! Mom! I want to do the cake walk. Look, I can win a whole entire cake all for myself!”
To a child, the prospect of being victorious at a cakewalk is not unlike the idea of purchasing a winning lottery ticket. You even begin to imagine what you’d do with your winnings: I can eat cake for breakfast! Or, I could eat all of the frosting first. Or! I could share a piece with all of my best dolls. Or not.
I absolutely LOVED the idea behind a carnival cakewalk when I was a kid. This is mostly due to the strong affinity for cake with which I was clearly born. You should’ve seen the dessert table at my wedding. Cake for days and days …. Anyway, my introduction to the cake walk concept fell on a Fall evening sometime in the early nineties, at a carnival-inspired fundraiser at my elementary school. All of the usual festival suspects were present and accounted for at this event. There was a dunk tank (dunk the principal!). There was a “bob for apples” station (gross!). There was face painting. I loved the face painting. Who doesn’t like face painting? But as soon as the cakewalk made my acquaintance, it was like the lights in the rest of that gymnasium darkened, with only a single, shining spotlight beaming right down on that circle of decorated cakes. Why would one waste his or her time bobbing for apples when you can win an entire cake? The question baffled me. That Fall festival cake walk even managed to momentarily divert my attention away from the boy on whom I had a major crush at the time – a feat that is absolutely worth noting. Behold the power of a pretty cake. Or rather, 20 pretty cakes. A cake of which you’ve officially been declared the winner tastes just a little bit sweeter, a little more special.
Today, I am still an active participant in cake walk-ery. Although, my walks have taken on a completely different form; no more merrily going round the cake-rimmed circle, starting and stopping per the music’s cues. No, these days when I want cake, I walk into the kitchen and make it myself, thank you very much. No need for the whole cakewalk rigamarole. It’s like an unnecessary middleman. The day I learned this was the day my life changed forever.
“Wait a minute! I can just ask my Mom if she’ll get the ingredients for me at the store and then read the directions in one of her cookbooks, and MAKE THE CAKE MYSELF.”
Eureeka. And thus, a lifelong love affair with cake baking was born. However, my cake eating is not so conspicuous these days. I often have to sneak my bites in the kitchen when no one else is looking. By no one else, I’m mostly referring to my daughter. If she even detects the slightest hint of a sweet treat in her near vicinity, she will beg mercilessly until I cave and then we’re both left with frosting in the cracks of our mouths and crumbs on our shirts. This is completely fine, on occasion, but stuffing my child with sweets isn’t something I do too often, what with the sugar causing her already highly energetic self to veritably blast off. Yes, when it comes to my typical cake intake, you will often find me walking – ever so quietly – into the kitchen to sneak a covert bite of whatever cake-like confection has taken up residence on my counter. I would say that there is a cake of some sort perched atop my counter a good 85% of the time. You only live once, people. Why not do it with cake on your counter? Yes, there’s a good chance that this is how I will be remembered: the girl who always had cake.
I’m comfortable with that. Continue reading