When my friend calls to ask if I can come down and decorate her daughter’s birthday cake, I answer yes. Her daughter is a delightful third grader who helps me with my girl fix in a house full of boys. The last time she visited she let me paint her nails.
“I’ve got a batch of cookies in the oven and one more sheet to go in. Is ten minutes OK?” She says it is and she’ll see me soon.
I pack up a few of my cake tricks in a bag and head out. The rain sends me back into the house for an umbrella then it’s a dash down the street.
“Whatever you can do to help,” she says in greeting.
My friend’s cake has an unusual tilt to it and the filling seems to be seeping out the sides. While she adds powdered sugar to the frosting, I start to melt chocolate to make 3D butterflies that will float around the top of the cake. Then, the doorbell rings.
“Oh! Our first guest is here!” my friend says and sprints to the door.
Guest? Yikes, I think and pick up the pace.
“Do you think it will be much longer?” she asks. “The center of the cake is ice cream and I think it’s starting to melt.” I’m a tad distressed at this but also oddly comforted that there’s a reason for the oozing center.
“Five minutes,” I chirp and frantically ice “Happy Birthday” across the top and swish chocolaty twirls around the lumpier parts. It’s a mad dash of sugar and I hope no one gets hurt.
Ding Dong. The sound of two giggling girls floats down the hall and into the kitchen.
“Can I ask one more favor?” my friend asks picking up the cake. “Can you follow me with your umbrella to the neighbor’s? She’s got a bigger freezer.”
Ding Dong. Another guest arrives.
“We’ll be right back,” she calls to the girls and to the mom who’s staying to supervise.
The two of us speed walk to the neighbor, my friend holding the sagging cake, me tilting the umbrella against the slanting rain.