“The first rule of Cake Fight is, don’t talk about Cake Fight.”
There was a certain amount of talking about Cake Fight that had to be done, of course, firstly on the order of the invitation. “So it's my birthday,” Julia wrote on Facebook a few weeks ago, “and I've decided that I want nothing more than to get together with all of my friends and smash cake in their faces.” It’s important to remember that Julia actually staged her own fisticuff version of Fight Club not too long ago, so I hope she’ll forgive me if I had a moment’s pause over whether or not it would be only baked goods flying and whizzing through the air at this affair.
So I, along with my daughters, taking care to speak no further about the event to anyone who wasn’t directly involved, procured a lovely two-tiered lemon diner cake, decorated it with writing (which immediately desaturated in the moist pre-rain air into an illegible string of sugary scribbling), added our own artfully chosen array of sprinkles and a parade of pink and white circus animal cookies to march along the perimeter of the construct, and made off for the secret location, a public park somewhere off of Wilshire, down South Plymouth Street, at 880 Lucerne, right there out in the open, in front of God and everybody (and maybe even Brad Pitt—this is Los Angeles, after all).
After a few pleasantries, we were instructed to generously sample the wares everyone brought and laid out on the main picnic table. I hope it won’t be too impolitic for me to brag that the hostess and guest of honor said she liked my cake best—Nyaah-nyaah-nyah-nyah-nyaaah!—even though any pride I took in such a claim would be strictly that of ownership, as I bought the damn cake at my local Von’s. (For the purposes of this story, I’ll invoke artistic license and just say that I high-tailed it right home afterward to the grocery store and relayed Julia’s enthusiasm to the lovely and talented denizens of the bakery department at said supermarket, even though that may not have, in the strictest sense, actually occurred.) Oh, but the cakes were good, especially to one such as I who has been forbidden this kind of indulgence for about three years now. I even held a Twinkie that someone placed in my hand; the thought of its possible devastating effect as a crème-filled grenade made me shiver with anticipation.
But enough caloric preparation. To the strains of Wagner blaring from the overtaxed boom box sitting on the side picnic table, we each grabbed fistfuls of the mighty confections, which surely had no idea that smearing and splattering instead of pleasurable ingesting would be in their future, and flung ourselves into the grassy, muddy, slippery fray.
My memory of battle is vague; at one point I blacked out momentarily, only to regain consciousness and realize that the entirety of my overwhelmingly chromed dome was pasted with what can only be termed a skull-hugging hat made of blue-frosted angel food cake, Jen Yamato leaning over my stunned personage, laughing hysterically and brandishing the azure-stained palms that did the deed before running away to attack someone else. My own daughters showed me no mercy, hurling hard chunks of red velvet cake at my head, smooshing orange cupcakes in my ears. Within seconds my pale yellow t-shirt began to resemble the floor tarp in Jackson Pollock’s studio, only with crumbs and large hunks of dessert dangling from its surface instead of splattered paints. It was only later that I noticed the film crew loitering nearby—the whole thing was being filmed, to be constructed into a commemorative short subject which, with any justice, will be among the five short films nominated for next year’s Oscar. (If it doesn’t happen, it won’t be because I didn’t give it my all, Mr. DeMille— some of those goddamn cake bombs hurt, and I wasn’t too macho to let it show.)
Finally, my eyes locked with Julia’s, both sets of peepers inflamed with fury and a gargantuan sugar rush, and we approached each other warily, both of us armed with what surely were the last available missile-worthy baked projectiles. (I picked mine up off the grass, so there would be some additional fiber to my concluding launch.) I’m pretty sure we approached each other in slow motion, and I know for a fact that as I let fly my triumphant battle cry the sound got all draggy and processed in the way it does when two titans approach each other for the final gory blow in a Zach Snyder movie. I just wish I hadn’t opened my mouth so wide, and I also wish that I liked the taste of carrot cake a little better than I do, and I also wish that Julia’s aim and composure under the pressure of imminent attack wasn’t so cocksure and unflappable. I fell to the grass gagging, my last piece of cake unspent and crushed in my tightened fist, and above me I heard the unmistakable sound of triumphant screaming and a few final crumbs of carrot cake being flicked onto my frosting-scarred brow. It was a horrible sound; it sounded like defeat. Or at least what defeat sounds like through a couple of inches of compacted icing and chunks of what appeared to be raisins that had been jammed to glory into my ear canal.
Cake Fight was over. Humiliated, I limped to my car, helped along by my suddenly sympathetic daughters, whose graces I would never deny even after all that just came before. I looked back at the ruined park, all tattered and stained with the artificial colors of a birthday celebration gone quite mad. I waved good-bye to Julia, our hostess, my superior in battle, and I wished her happy birthday one last time. And then as I thought about the gigantic mess we made, and how legalistically pissy any police officer who might randomly have stumbled upon this decadent free-for-all we’d staged here would be, I decided I’d better get the hell out of there before I landed in jail for public abuse of baked goods or any other such mysterious ordinance. As I drove away, I looked in the rear view mirror back at the park and thought to myself, “You know, this park is so messy, somebody oughta take this lousy park and just… flush it down the toilet.” I could feel my gaze grow ever steelier, more distant as I continued to stare at the park, and now myself, in the mirror. “I hope someday a real rain will come and wash all the scum and the frosting off the grass here for good,” I said to myself, my daughters already absorbed in video games and comic books for the ride home. I took one last look at myself in the mirror before devoting my attention to traffic and noticed a streak of brown icing cutting across the top of my skull from back to front, like a sickeningly sweet Mohawk. I remember thinking the look was a good one for me. My thoughts started drifting… “I gotta get in shape. Too much sitting has ruined my body. Too much abuse has gone on for too long. From now on there will be 50 pushups each morning, 50 pull-ups. No more bad food, no more destroyers of my body, like goddamn birthday cake. From now on will be total organization. Every muscle must be tight.” Thank you, Cake Fight. Everything was all clear to me now. And by the way, it rained like hell the very next day.
(Video courtesy of Anat Indig)