Excerpt from my newest book...for kids (some adult themes are explored, btw)...
Today I turned ten and guess what I got? A cake full of mayonnaise, that’s what.
Mom’s gone on another site dig, so Dad had to make the cake and let me tell you, he’s basically the worst at cooking. Whoever said the greatest chefs were men never met my lunch. When Dad makes my sandwiches there’s never any mayonnaise, just the baloney and the bread. So what’s with the mayonnaise in the cake, I say when I blow out the candles. He says try it.
Henry makes a face and takes a pretend bite when Dad’s watching me cause when it’s your birthday everyone pays you too much attention and stares when you eat. Henry’s too old to warrant Dad making a sandwich. Henry gets money instead. He’s in seventh grade so he’s at middle school. He gets to have a really big locker that he’s always forgetting the combination to. I’d never do that.
“Mmmm,” I say and just lick the frosting. Trails of smoke from the candles are swimming all around Dad’s face. I must have blown them to the side.
“You didn’t try it,” Dad says, and sighs.
So I take a bite. It doesn’t taste like mayonnaise. It tastes like cake. Maybe a little burnt, but it’s chocolate so it’s hard to tell. “Where’d it go?”
Dad beams like he’s won the lottery and we can all go live in Hawaii. “We were out of eggs and then I thought, what’s mayonnaise except oil and eggs? Two ingredients on the back of the cake box are oil and eggs, and here I had both, already mixed!”
I want to interrupt that my birthday was no time to play around, this was the most important thing I’ll eat all day, but I don’t. Dad’s a biomedical engineer, which is just a fancy label for scientist, and he loves breaking down and building up things. He thinks didactically. I forget what it means, but I suppose it’s an answer to some question I never asked.
So here I am, eating the cake and still Henry won’t take a bite. He doesn’t like what he can’t see. Dad loves that about Henry, says it means he’s a verifiable brain-in-training. I said Henry’s an idiot, and my supporting evidence was people can’t see planets moving or see evolution. That’s just a leap of faith. Henry said I got it backwards, as usual, and waved a book in my face, The Beak of the Finch. He said Charles Darwin saw it because he was patient, unlike me. I go, I’d read that book myself just to shove it in Henry’s face if it weren’t so freakin’ boring.
Dad said don’t say freakin’, it’s unladylike. Another thing Henry gets to do that I don’t. I’m supposed to become a lady and he gets to be a man, which aside from not being able to cook seems a lot better because you don’t have to wear lipstick and no one judges you by how big your bra is. Dad says talking about a bra before I need one is also unladylike.
You’re exasperating, I said to Dad, because he always says it to me. He said don’t push it, so I didn’t because, you know, he was making that face. He was making that same face to Henry about the cake so Henry took a bite really fast.
“Hey this isn’t half bad,” he says, and with his mouth full too. And then he keeps eating, just wouldn’t stop eating it. His piece was gone in like, a millisecond, I swear. I count in my head. At that rate, the whole thing would be gone in one point two minutes.
“Don’t pig out! Leave some, I want to eat this all week!” I tell him.
I’m starting to regret that my birthday party isn’t until next Saturday. You can’t have a party on Sunday night, not with your friends cause no one will come, so we’re having our little party as a family. Plus the bowling alley would be more fun on the weekends. Rachel and Andrea and Sammy have never eaten a mayonnaise cake, to my recollection. They would have told me if they did.
“I can make more,” Dad says, probably as a cue for us to pipe down.
So we all keep eating it and I don’t say out loud how I wished Mom were here to try it. She’s missed my birthday before—she’s an archeologist and is basically always gone—but I guess I thought she’d be here for my graduation into double digits, since today I turned ten. That’s a big number, especially now that I’m in fifth grade, the last grade before middle school. It seems important to have your mom around for that kind of a thing. But then again, I wouldn’t have had a mayonnaise cake if she were here. So I didn’t say anything about Mom missing the cake out loud. If she were here, it couldn’t have been mayonnaise cake at all. That’s what Dad calls an impossibility.