Let Them Eat Cake

Feb 11 2012

My mom feeds people.

It is her biological imperative.

Salmon must swim upriver to spawn. Geese must fly south for the winter. Moses must lead his flock to the promised land. And my mom must feed her people.

On Sunday afternoon, my dad called.

We were minus-three hours from kickoff for the Big Game. Greg was cleaning. The kids and I were avoiding cleaning. You know, the usual prep for a big party.

I love the Superbowl. In recent years, I love it because it’s all of the party and none of the work for me. See, I’m typically away that weekend for an annual work obligation, so Greg throws his Football Worship Service himself. And I – I am the Pontius Pilate of the Superbowl; I wash my hands of the entire affair and then I breeze through the door just in time to watch the heinous mess unfold. It is, in a word, fabulous.

Greg’s birthday coincides with the Superbowl, so we tackle the two events together. And, by we, I think I’ve made it clear that I mean “he.”

Happy Birthday, Greg!
Love, Greg

Every year, my mom makes bean dip for Greg’s party. And every year, just before people arrive, my mom panics. Because MAN CANNOT LIVE ON BEAN DIP ALONE. And WHAT IF NO ONE’S BRINGING FOOD? And WE ALL MIGHT STARVE.

This year’s panic was about cake.


My mother is diminutive. She stands 5 feet 2 inches tall on her tiptoes, and everyone who’s ever met her will tell you that she is the nicest, sweetest, darlingest woman you ever did meet. And a select few people in the universe know that you cross her at your peril. She can lay my dad flat with a stare at 50 paces. He’s trained, in fact, to deliver “yes, dears” with such stunning frequency that it’s often mistaken for machine gun fire. My dad is no dummy.

On Sunday afternoon, my dad called. We were minus-three hours from kickoff for the Big Game. (Did I mention that already?)

I’d arrived home from my trip earlier than anticipated. Greg answered the phone. And this is what I heard:

“She’s home. … Yep. … Came home early. … Uh huh. … I don’t know. … I don’t know. … I don’t know. …  I don’t know. … Hang on. Hey, Beth? Should your mom get a cake?”

Oh dear heaven, help us.

To you, this is just the innocent sound of a woman offering help.

To me, this is the klaxon alarm of a woman on a mission. Get out of her way, people! MOVE, MOVE, MOVE! This is not a drill!

“I’ll take the call. … Hey, Dad? Mom needs to buy cake?”

“Stand by,” says my father. My rock. The former Marine. The non-crier. The combat-trained veteran. “Why don’t you talk to your mom?” The Chicken.


“Hi, Mom.”

“Is there a cake for Greg’s party?”

“I’ll make a cake, Mom.”

“Oh, no. You don’t have to do that. I can go to the store and buy all their cakes.” (She might not have said ALL their cakes. But it was implied.)

“No, Mom. It’s OK. I promise I’ll make Greg a cake.”

“Really? It’s no trouble. I don’t mind…”

“How about two cakes, Mom? I’ll make Greg two cakes.”

“Oh, well… if you think that’s not too much work…”

“No, Mom. It’s perfect. It’s no trouble. I promise. People will eat cake at my house today. Lots and lots of cake.”

“So, then, I’ll bring bean dip and chips and… ”

“And that’s plenty, Mom. Really. Everyone’s bringing food to share, and I’m making two cakes. We have pizza. And beer. And pop. And bean dip. And all the cakes. And other stuff people are bringing. We can feed a small country. Lots of cake. We’re good.”

“So, I’ll just stop by the store for…”

“Nothing, Mom. We’ve got it covered. LOADS of food. Really. More than enough. We’ll pack up leftovers for everyone. Especially the cake.”

“Then the only thing left to get is…”

“Mom? Can you hear me? … Mom? …”

“ICE CREAM! What about ice cream? Do you have ice cream to go with the cake?”

I sighed in defeat. And she giggled, sensing her victory. I swear she did. She’s funny, and she knows it. My mother is a punk, just like every last one of my children. THEY LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING HER.

“Oh my gosh, Mom! You know what? I have no ice cream. None. Hey! I have an idea. Can you go to the store and get us some ice cream?”

“Why, I’d love to! OK! I’ll get ice cream at the store. Do you think two cartons is enou..”

“YES! Two is plenty. Two is perfect, Mom. Greg likes two cartons of ice cream the BEST. And I’m so glad you remembered ice cream. Seriously. I almost ruined Greg’s birthday. This is really SUCH a relief.”

She chortled, you guys. I heard her.

But she still brought all of the ice creams.

Sometimes in life, you have to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. Sometimes in life, you have to choose your battles. And sometimes in life, you have to let your mom buy all of the ice creams.

And when you do, everybody wins.

Well, you know, except for the Patriots.

Next year, they should let my mom play for their team. I’m telling you, she never loses.