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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Gettin' Plastered

Writing about the paper dolls reminded me of something from Kindergarten, or possibly first grade - the plaster birthday cake.

Can you imagine anything more torturous to a five or six year old than a beautiful birthday cake, iced in white frosting and decorated with sugar roses, and completely inedible?

At school, this cake was brought out to celebrate each birthday. There was one of those birthday candles in the shape of a number 5 or number 6, depending on the birthday child's age, stuck in a hole in the top of the cake. The candle was lit and the class sang happy birthday to the lucky celebrant. All those eager young eyes gazed at the sugar white frosting, the pastel tinted icing roses, the burning candle, as they anticipated the deliciousness of birthday cake.

The birthday child took a deep breath and blew out the candle. Now was the time when the cake would normally be cut. But no, the candle was removed and allowed to cool and the cake, that beautiful, sumptuous looking cake, was slid back into the cupboard to wait for the next birthday.

Unfortunately, they did not wrap the cake with tissue or anything and eventually, it became encrusted with dust. But to the eyes of a five-going-on-six year old it always appeared magically delicious.

Years later my sis made an awesome assemblage (that's artist talk for a sort of sculpture). It consisted of a doll house, the attic ceiling painted blue, with clouds to resemble the sky. Inexplicably, a plane was flying through the attic.

In one of the downstairs rooms (the dining room, no doubt) was a circle of little girl figures, cast in plaster, sitting in chairs and wearing party dresses. The circle of plaster girls surrounded one of those magical plaster birthday cakes, complete with plaster icing roses and a few unexplained finger prints, as though some disbelieving six year old boy had attempted, a little too aggressively, to taste the icing.

The cake was monstrously large in proportion to the party girls. In fact, it filled the room floor to ceiling. The piece evoked the childish wonder inherent in all birthday and other celebrations - the eager anticipation, the feverish excitement of reality, and even the disappointing letdown when the event did not quite live up to its initial promise. In all, a remarkable and inspired work of art.

Imagine my delight when my sis bequeathed this wonderful childhood reminder to me. Now I can have my cake and . . . not . . . eat it . . . just like in the old days.

Quotable Quotes; in the category Enough Is As Good As A Feast.

"All the world is birthday cake, so take a piece, but not too much."
George Harrison

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