Monday, July 11, 2016

I Hate Cutting Cake!


I hate cutting cake. Unfortunately for my waist line, the eating cake part gives me no trouble. This poses a problem, because unless you want to live like a Neanderthal, it is necessary to cut cake before eating it. Perhaps, if you are a baby on your first birthday, you can get away with digging in and pulling out a couple of fistfuls. At 44, this behavior is no longer considered cute. I can imagine a caveman with a voice that is a cross between Cookie Monster and The Muppets' Animal -- can you tell I'm a puppeteer? -- roaring "Cake!" before diving in face first. For the rest of us more civilized creatures, cutting cake is a prerequisite to eating it.

I developed this phobia, because my dad, a now retired engineer who occasionally cuts the food on his plate into perfect squares, has been the designated cake cutter. My own mother avoided the duty at times, preferring Dad to cut it with his mathematical precision. So, now I have half convinced myself that it requires an engineering degree to cut cake properly.

This past Sunday, Dad was politely requested to cut cake for my mother and me. He mumbled assent and then sat with his sudoku puzzle book and pencil for quite some minutes afterwards. After a while, impatient, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

"Well, if I cut the cake into rhombuses, it's all your fault," I announced to my father.

The trouble with this statement is that, as an English major with little math requirements, I forgot the definition of rhombus. (My one college math requirement class was filled with English, broadcasting and communications majors. The one thing I remember from the class is that one of the ancient cultures had a symbol for 1000 called "the astonished man" that consisted of a stick figure with his arms raised. I digress.)  What I was imagining was more like irregular polygons, but a rhombus, as you might know, is a diamond shape.

Dad laughed at my line but for very different reasons than I intended for it to be funny. He reminded me of the definition and told me I would get extra credit if I could cut the cake into rhombuses, particularly if I could do so, leaving no extra scraps.

"Well, you get the idea. They're irregular shapes," I said.

"It's an insult to rhombuses to call them irregular," said my father.

Leave it to an engineer to conclude that geometrical shapes have feelings. "Well, they're not triangles!" I said.

I cut three slices from the cake, but something was most definitely wrong. One slice was certainly a lot bigger. "This is all wrong," I said. In fact, I was pretty sure I cut the cake into Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear portions. I asked Dad to fix it, imagining that he would cut a sliver from the largest slice and somehow finagle the servings into equal portions.

"I'll fix it by taking the largest slice," said Dad.

Well, I couldn't let him get by with that and gave the Papa Bear slice to Mom.

I hope you enjoyed this slice of life ... pun intended.