The assignment was to design and produce our very own three-tier cake.
I suppose I could adorn a lovely white-frosted cake with hollyhocks and roses, glittering with romance and beaming fairy-tale passion so enchanting that Prince Charming and Italians everywhere would look like positively utilitarian beside such a cake. In fact, you can’t get married without cake. They are so mutually dependent that love itself does not exist without cake. It’s much like Christmas and Santa Claus.
But I did not design such a cake. I sat down with a sketchbook and suddenly two eyes stared back at me from the page. Weird. I flipped the page to start again.
Again, my pencil started moving and in place of white frosted fluff and love came scary, little eyes. I didn’t start over, but continued drawing.
Fangs. Now, there were also fangs.
They eyes rested on the sides of the top tier. The fangs protruded from the middle layer. This was not a cake you sliced willy-nilly without first considering the consequences. It might eat you back. Or was there a fanged creature lurking within the cake? Or was the cake itself a monster? A cake monster. Had cakes simply evolved a defense mechanism, or perhaps this was a new government program to fight the growing obesity epidemic.
The most likely explanation for a staring, fanged cake was that I watch too much of The Muppet Show. In the show, it is not unusual for an ordinary and everyday prop (a piece of fruit, a hat, a chair, or a maraca) to deliver the punch line of a joke, while Kermit and the others turn aside to stare blankly, but meaningfully, into the camera.
This absurdist comedy style, heavily routed in vaudevillian hokum, comebacks and one-liners, has become a frame through which I prefer to envision the world. A sort of, “What Would Muppets Do?” or, “WWMD?”
The answer to this question is usually one for the following:
1. Blow something up
2. Get chickens involved
3. Sing, dance or perform dangerous acrobatics
4. Surround yourself with loyal and benevolent characters, as strange, or stranger, than yourself in order to create a false sense of normalcy
5. Embrace the fact that we are all weirdoes and go with it
I prefer numbers four and five. So, when faced with the opportunity to design a cake of my choosing, I fabricated one that might deliver a punch line…or at least heckle me during its construction process.
The design is to be an expression of play, a reminder to keep a sense of humor, and a celebration of resignation to the fact that we’re all just a little bit insane.