[In Frank’s wedding video, Frank is about to cut the cake]
Trapper: Look, even then he didn’t know how to hold a knife. [Laughs]
Hawkeye: [Laughs] Watch the cake die of malpractice.
—M*A*S*H, “There is Nothing Like a Nurse” (11/19/74)
Kim Lewis is one of the Bigger Wheels in the Baltimore City school system, and while I don’t work in her department, I do work with a lot of the people who are. Ms. Lewis will be participating in the Polar Bear Plunge this weekend, which raises money for the Special Olympics. Her goal is to raise $10,000, which will allow her to take the plunge 24 times in a 24-hour period. She’s pretty close to her goal, and it wouldn’t be too tough for you to help push her over the top.
Today, as part of her fundraising efforts, a bake sale was held at the Puzzle Palace. Among the goodies were cupcakes, doughnuts, homemade cookies, and, of course, cakes. One cake in particular was the centerpiece for this whole thing, but I’ll come back to that in a second.
As you probably know, money’s been a little tight since September, but Wife and I do our best to help out with some charities here and there. And since Special Olympics is rather close to my heart, I did want to contribute to Kim’s cause, but I wasn’t sure I could really afford it, what with it being post-Christmas and all. However, after doing my taxes this past weekend (what? Shut up), I decided that I could afford to kick in a few bucks to the cause.
Now, there are a few ways to help out if you work in the school system. You can go to the second floor and hand some money over to one of two people delegated to collect on Kim’s behalf. Boring. You can go to the website and do the electronic thing. Easy, but also kind of impersonal, especially inasmuch as I work in the same building with her. Or, I could do something a little weird at the bake sale, like buy an entire pie or something.
So there I am at the bake sale and they’re maybe two hours into the thing, so there’s definitely not as much on the table as there was the first time I looked. The centerpiece cake, however, was still mostly intact. The reason for this is that it was one of those half-sheet size cakes which had a photo on it. I’m sure you’ve seen that type. The photo on this one, of course, was a picture of Kim Lewis standing in front of a poster for the Plunge. For some mysterious reason, the ladies who were serving out food were cutting around the picture. This, of course, became my target. How could it not?
I came in close to the table and greeted the ladies. Then I said, “I want some cake.” As she started to make the cut, I said, “No, no, no, no. I want her face.”
They were actually a bit taken aback at this. They looked at each other and looked unsure, as though there was some kind of rule that would be broken. I persisted: “I’ll pay extra for it.” Now, I was going to haggle with them a bit. I had a set amount in mind that I was going to spend altogether, but I wasn’t going to give it up easily. One woman said to the other, “He will pay extra…” The other woman said, “Twenty bucks.”
“Done,” I said, and instantly plunked down a pair of ten-dollar bills that were in my hand. This, as it turns out, was what I’d planned to spend in total.
They still couldn’t believe it. “You’re really going to give us twenty dollars for a piece of cake?”
“If it’s the face, yes,” I said.
They went for it. In fact, they gave me a slice about twice as large as typical, because they had to cut way into the picture to get the face. If you look at the picture here, it’s hard to tell that there’s a seven-inch paper plate underneath that hunk o’ cake.
Neither of the women could remember my name, so I said to call it an anonymous donation. I took my cake and brought it into a meeting in the Board Room, which was right behind the bake sale table. About two minutes later, Kim came into the Board Room and said, “Somebody just paid twenty dollars for a piece of cake!” Of course, the piece was still intact in front of me (I’d just snapped the picture), so she figured it out right away. She gave me a hug and thanked me for supporting the Plunge.
Now, here’s the odd part. (Because eating a colleague’s face isn’t weird.) When I worked at Helen Keller, all of the classroom aides were Puerto Rican, and they had a superstition about birthday cakes. Specifically, you had to smear the person’s name across the cake before you cut it, so that you weren’t cutting into the person’s name and giving them all kinds of bad luck. This kind of carried with me, and now I do it. So I had to smear Kim’s face before eating the cake. My way of wishing her luck as she makes the Plunge this weekend.
And in case you missed it, here’s the link to donate once more.