Sunday, August 26, 2012

50 Years Family

I recently hired a teenager to come in for the summer months and do dishes at the shop.  While I'd like to take credit for this brilliant idea, it was Jenna who suggested it.  It just so happens that she also provided the teenager...her little brother Sam.
One day at lunch, Sam took a Rubik's Cube out of his bag.  I can't believe kids still have these things.  I'll date myself here, but I remember going to the mall and buying one of these suckers the year they hit the market.  I brought it home, mixed it up, got to the point where I could solve two sides, then smashed it apart, and rebuilt it (OCD, lack of spatial skills, and rash behavior are not a good combo).  There it sat on my shelf until the next family garage sale (where I earned back 10% of my investment, because everyone else in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1980 had already learned  that  a toy that made you feel inadequate was not a fun toy).

Imagine my amazement when I watched this kid solve his in under 2 minutes!!  Needless to say, I probably punctured his eardrums with my cries of disbelief and envy...and then insisted that he teach me.

What does this have to do with Marsha and Gary, and their 50th wedding anniversary?  Trust me, we're getting there people.

It's been a couple of months.  I've learned how to solve the Rubik's Cube.  Yeah, I said it.  I may have a copy of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables on my bedside table, but I also have a copy of Christopher Moore's "The Stupidest Angel" and right between the two is my Rubik's Cube.  My best time so far is two minutes, fifteen seconds.  But there's a difference between me and Sam.  When I'm working on the Rubik's cube, it takes concentration, silence, and some pretty weird facial contortions.  Sam, wait for it...makes it look Easy.

Aha!  Enter Marsha and Gary.
They've been married for 50 years.  They were having the party to prove it.  And they made it look so incredibly easy!!

My first thought when planning our meeting was antique lace, soft pink and ivory, maybe some gold accents, but definitely not anything like I got.  As a matter of fact, within the first five minutes I told them as much.  They had a clean, modern style and sensibility.  They were incorporating gold into the color scheme, but the floral would be a riot of fuschia, orange, and bright beautiful color!  Their invitations, designed by our friends over at Amy Zaroff  Events + Design, were laid out beautifully.  The text being the main graphic design, not a doily, wedding bell, or dove in sight.

"What did you expect?  We'd be wheeled in with oxygen masks on?" was, what I believe to be the exact wording of Gary's response to my shock.

The cake designed itself.  We took the beautifully laid out date "motif" from the invitations, and decided to add other significant dates to the cake.  I suggested the date they bought their first house, had their children, took meaningful vacations, but to Gary, this was a no-brainer.  What he and Marsha had built was a marriage, and a family.  We put the birth-dates of their children on the second tier, their grandchildren on the third, and top and bottom tiers would be their wedding date, and the date of their anniversary.  Cake. Done.

With that out of the way, I spent the next half hour just getting to know Marsha and Gary, and doing what I do best...poke my nose into other people's business.  I've been married 17 years.  I want to be married 50 years, so I have something to learn from these two.  But they couldn't give me a Magic Bullet.  No simple formula like solving the Rubik's cube.  Turns out, being married, and happy together for that long isn't easy, but it's simple.  As I got to know these two over the course of planning their cake, sampling cake flavors, and the incredible encouraging messages from Marsha on our Voicemail (I saved them, and listen to them when I have a rough day, not kidding) I learned that being happily married for fifty years is no different than being happily married for seventeen, or even one year.  These two genuinely like each other.  Respect each other.  Treat each other with dignity and honor. And love each other.  Every day.

They truly make it look easy.

One more thing for me to practice.  Oh well, if I Sam can teach me that Damn Rubik's Cube, I'll rely on my experience with Gary and Marsha, and work on this.  Maybe they could write me little instructions on the back of cake sketches the way Sam did.  Or maybe, we'll just have to get together for dinner sometime.  I'd love that.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ain't that a kick in the head?

How lucky can one guy be?
I kissed her and she kissed me
Like the fella once said,
"ain't that a kick in the head?"
I've had the pleasure of working with couples of all ages, all sorts of backgrounds, and (I thought) all professions.  I've made cakes for professional athletes, Hollywood celebrities, doctors, lawyers, prison guards, cops, paramedics, even two bona fide NASA rocket-scientists (they prefer to be called aerospace engineers, but I can't help but think the former is a far cooler title).  So when I was meeting with Elissa and her Dad to design her wedding cake, and she informed me that her groom wouldn't be sampling the cakes because he was "training".  I needed to know what on earth kind of career would limit someones cake intake!  My professional baseball and hockey player-clients have had no trouble packing in the goodies...and my NFL player-groom practically considered it a part of his training regiment!  So what exactly does this guy do that is so disciplined that he won't indulge in a little cakey goodness?

He's a UFC fighter.

The Evil Cake Genius is a lover, not a fighter.  I'd never seen a UFC fight before.   Just never had any interest...until then.  Turns out, I wouldn't have to wait long... the groom was scheduled to fight that weekend.  So, on Saturday night, I popped some corn, put on my favorite pajamas, and my husband "The Captain" and I curled up on the couch with our little dog Speck, and put on the fight. 

GRATITUDE CHECK:  Cake decorating may not be the glamourous, exciting job they depict it to be on most shows.  The work is rewarding, but downright physical at times.  There's a lot of heavy lifting, long hours on your feet, cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning, more time than you'd ever expect is spent doing mundane office work, and when you finally produce your masterpiece, it is inevitably cut up and eaten.  But even on my worst day I can pretty much go to work with the safe assumption that no one is going to beat the living crap out of me.  Just sayin'.

Back to our lovely couple.  Nik has a great record.  He's a hell of a fighter, and we watched as he fought despite a possibly fractured orbital bone (pretty sure that's his eye socket).  I will NEVER say that my job is tough again.

A week later, Elissa called back to book the cake.  I was glad.  She's really fun to work with, and I love the design we came up with (based on her beautiful dress). 
She wanted to keep the sweet understated cake, but wanted to know how we could include the groom a little in the design. I'm glad I watched his fight, because I knew the answer immediately.  A frosting band aid.  Nothing could be more appropriate.  She agreed, and added that he is a huge fan of Star Craft.  Being more geek than athlete, I had a slightly better idea of what she was talking about (only slightly).  So we added the Protoss symbol to his band-aid (that's his race in the game). 
The wedding day came, and we set up the cake amidst all of the insane sound and lighting that any good UFC wedding reception should have (smoke cannons included).  In all of the excitement of the day, I'm sure a little frosting band-aid on the back of a wedding cake could easily go unnoticed.  That's why we were surprised and delighted to hear that the groom actually Tweeted a photo of it.  Elissa told us that she had to wait to cut the cake because he insisted on Tweeting it live.  Cake mission...accomplished.
My head keeps spinnin',
I go to sleep and keep grinnin'
If this is just the beginnin',
My life is gonna be beautiful!

She's tellin' me we'll be wed,
She's picked out a king-size bed
I couldn't feel any better or i'd be sick
Tell me quick oh, ain't love a kick?
Tell me quick ain't love a kick in the head?