FILED IN: Family

The Great Cake War

We were finishing our coffee after a late supper at the in-laws and I casually mentioned that we would have to be going soon. Tomorrow’s a school day and I need to get the kids into bed. Suddenly, my mother-in law jumps from her chair and exclaims, “But you didn’t have any cake!” She runs to the counter and grabs some plates.

“No,” I protest. “We don’t need any cake. Thanks.”

“Oh, don’t be silly. It’s Black Forest cake with these beautiful cherries on it. You have some before you go.” She starts cutting into the cake.

“That’s okay. Really, we don’t need any cake.”

“Oh no, you guys need to have some cake,” she says adamantly. “It’s very good.”

I try to be gracious and forceful, but the conversation takes on a surreal life of its own. We clash back and forth.

“Try the cake…"

“No thanks…”

”It’s good. Try it…”

“No, really…”

I can’t believe this. Why won’t she just stop it already? I hear my brain chanting, "No, No, No, No," but she keeps talking about the freakin’ cake! THIS IS INSANE.

I want to scream. "Enough about the damn cake! We don’t want it. Why don’t you eat the cake? Eat the whole damn thing. Here I’ll help you. How about I shove a piece in your mouth so you’ll shut the hell up. I hope it tastes like crap and the icing breaks your dentures. I DON”T WANT THE CAKE. You eat the cake, Mom. EAT IT!"

“Well,” she hums, “You could at least take some home with you.” She starts digging through a drawer fiddling with her plastic containers when Great Grandma decides it’s her turn to take over the conversation.

“You could always take it home and freeze it till you want some,” she suggests.

Now I know where my mother-in-law gets it from. I imagine the two of them hanging around schoolyards pushing their cake on unsuspecting children. “Just try a little bit. Oh, come on. You know you’ll like it. It’s okay. I won’t tell your parents. Take it home… and freeze it.”

Out of the corner of my eye I see my daughter’s at the other end of the table. My five-year-old is totally oblivious to the “Battle of Wills” happening between her grandmothers and myself. But the nine-year-old is intently watching me. She looks at my hands that are clenched to the table. My teeth are fiercely biting my lower lip. It’s like I can read her mind. Is mom going to lunge across the table and strangle grandma? My husband sees I’m upset and interrupts his mother’s incessant cake chatter. “It’s okay, mom. Maybe next time.”

I gave a look to my girls that meant, “We’re leaving. NOW!” They know mommy is not in a good mood and they race to give their good-bye kisses and head for the car. As soon as we left their driveway I begin to vent.

“What the hell? I can’t believe your mom. And your grandma, Jesus. Why I …”

My husband nods in agreement. Every so often he mutters, “What kind of cake was it? I bet it was good.” We drive in silence for a while and I’m beginning to calm down. My husband turns to me and says, “You know what I could go for right now? Cake.” He starts laughing hysterically. I glare at him thinking how wonderful it must be for some women to be single.

The next morning I am enjoying my coffee when the back door bell rings. I open the door and to my surprise, it’s my mother-in-law. “Hi,” I smile wondering why on earth she’s here so early in the morning. She hands me a shopping bag with a large square container inside. “Cake!” she says.

"Did she just say cake?" I can’t speak. My tongue has fallen out of my mouth and is flopping like a fish on the doorstep. I mumbled something incoherent and she smiles at me and leaves. "Unfucking believable!" Did I just say that? I’m not sure because I must have had a stroke and I can’t feel my mouth. I look down at the bag in my hand and begin to shake. She needed to get one more dig in and this was it. It’s payback time. Hmmm…what should I do with the cake?

I could take the lid off of the container and leave it lying around on the counter for a few weeks. This would ensure that the cake turns hard and the icing will be disgustingly crusty. Then at our next visit, I’ll return the container to her, (with the cake still inside), and proudly proclaim, “See, I told you we didn’t want any cake.” No, not good enough. Be creative, CREATIVE. This is a war after all.

For my mission I need a covert plan. I will slink behind their backyard fence in the wee hours of the morning armed with a slingshot and the black forest creation. With much skill and perfect aim, I’ll hurl pieces of this “wonderful” cake at the back of their house. Each morsel of chocolate and cherries hitting the white siding with a loud smack. The gooey cake will splatter and eventually slide down the wall leaving a racing stripe into their prize-winning garden. Bu wha Ha Ha Ha! Yes! Yes! Vengeance shall be mine!

When my husband arrives home later that day I excitedly ask him, “Guess who came to the door today?” In his usual smart ass way he replies, “Ed McMahon?” I roll my eyes and sigh, “No, your mom.”

I have to tell him about my sheer brilliance. Also, I need allies to help me with my plan, or to at least watch our daughters while mommy goes off to war. He drops his keys on the counter and just as I’m about to tell him about "Operation Chocolate Bomb", he opens the fridge door and asks, “Hey! Did mom bring any cake?”