This post appeared in The Finger Lakes Times (NY) as part of the weekly series, “Denim Spirit.”
So, I am sitting here waiting for the cake to bake, having discovered that the oven door wasn’t closed all the way. Who knew the door sticks?
I wanted to bake a cake to take to my daughter. Most cakes in our household have been baked by my wife, and for good reason. I like to cook but I hate to bake and it shows. Almost every time I bake, something goes wrong.
I know what the problem is. Cooking is an art, a creative endeavor on which you can improvise. Cooking, with some notable exceptions, is jazz while baking is chemistry. In baking, it seems to this novice anyway, you have to get the ingredients and portions just right or things go badly. Well, that is asking a lot.
To begin with, I don’t follow directions well. Partly because my mind is permanently bent that way and partly because I am obstinate. I was exceptionally slow learning to read as a kid, and the family lore suspects what would now be called an undiagnosed learning disability. It makes reading forms and following directions arduous, but it is also true I never met a direction I accepted without consideration.
My wife says this cake I started is going to be rubbery now, simply because it has to bake so long given that its first thirty minutes of life was with the door ajar. That seems grossly unfair. I was so hoping this cake would produce a new beginning for me, and I would arrive at my daughter’s apartment with a spectacular product. But no. I am the same old me, goofing up one way or another on a task that any idiot who can follow directions could do.
Can you hear that voice?
Yep, you may have one inside your head or stomach too, an Eeyore that piles on whenever you make a mistake. It helps to give that voice a name, so you know who it is when he or she speaks up. I call mine, “Bob.” I used to scowl and grimace and try to shut Bob down when he spoke, but I discovered that such belligerence caused him to get craftier and more subversive. It is better, I learned, to acknowledge him, even converse with him by name as a legitimate member of the team. That way I can give Bob a voice but limit his influence. That’s a little strategy I offer to you for possible use sometime in your own head. Of course, you may not have a Bob inside, all your voices may be angelic (but I doubt it).
It’s done! Don’t know what it will taste like but it looks like it is supposed to. It’s all about appearances after all. Oh, that is another voice. If you were here, I’d offer you a piece of cake.
We all have our own talents. Recognizing your strengths is one of them. So it may not have been what you imagined but the thought behind the gift is really what it is all about.