"All the sweet, green icing flowing down ...
Someone left the cake out in the rain;
I don't think that I can take it,
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again ..."
-- Richard Harris "MacArthur Park"
This holiday column is dedicated to the late Richard Harris, who plays Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies.
But his excellent film performance is not the reason for my dedication. I want to commemorate his rock-and-roll hit of the '60s, a portion of the lyrics of which appear above.
All the angst of that period came back to me two weekends ago when I lost my cupcake in the rain.
Chip and I had been to a family party at his brother's house. Bob takes pride in his cooking skills and presented us all with homemade snacks like mini-hot dogs wrapped in dough, conch fritters, meatballs, and buffalo wings. Other guests brought lasagna, other kinds of pasta, and a vegetarian millet loaf.
I had such a wonderful time tasting everything that I had no room for dessert from a nearby bakery -- cupcakes with elaborate icing toppings carved into holiday figures. So I took a snowman cupcake with me on a paper plate when we left.
The cupcakes were very goopy, which one could tell from the fact that Bob's youngest daughter was wearing the frosting figure all over her face and hands. I could hardly wait to get home, change into something washable, and duplicate her experience.
But alas, it was not to be.
The rain was coming down so hard that you could barely see where you were going. A would-be river ran along the gutter under the cars parked in front of the house. I jumped into one of the vehicles and sat down farther than I expected, jiggling the hand holding the paper plate as I landed.
My cupcake was gone! As I searched for it on the floor, hoping that it had not landed upside down, I heard Chip calling my name and
"Where ARE you?"
In the wrong car, as it turned out. Taking one last look around for my cupcake, I went back out into the storm and ran to his SUV, with its higher front seat.
"What were you doing in that van?" he yelled above the din of raindrops.
"It looks like yours," I responded, "and the door was unlocked."
"It's a van, not an SUV," he argued.
"Is it a Ford?" I asked.
"No," he said, "there is no resemblance whatsoever."
"I lost my cupcake," I told him sadly.
After he heard my story, Chip realized that the goopy confection might be upside down in one of his relatives' car. So he went back into the storm and climbed inside the van.
As he was searching, the van's owner -- a guest we didn't know -- left the party.
She was standing under her umbrella in the driveway, apparently trying to decide whether to call the police, when Chip saw her.
He jumped out and called out, "I was looking for Barbara's cupcake," as he ran to our car.
While we were driving off, laughing hysterically, we could see her in her front seat, searching for either a cupcake or something he might have stolen -- we don't know which.
I guess the cupcake might have been flipped out the door and into the running water. I could have gone inside for another, but my raincoat was dripping and the explanation had become complicated.
I will instead regret that lost cupcake for the rest of my life, or until I find that bakery.
* * *
The best part of Christmas for me is exchanging cards with people I don't often see and learning what is going on in their lives.
I sent out photos of my twin grandchildren, who are wearing shorts because it was August when they posed.
Suzanne, mother of my best friends' grandsons, was organized enough to sit her two sweater-clad boys in front of a poinsettia.
My cousin's Marine son and his wife sent a photo of their sweet daughters and an update on their animals -- Chester. the rat; Leo, the fat cat; and Terry, the pet tarantula. We were happy to learn that Terry successfully molted twice during the year, and "Hollyann keeps his discarded skins on a shelf in her bedroom."
* * *
From mansion to cabin:
We received a beautiful card from Ambassador and Mrs. Dick Egan, who also sent a book of the New England art with which they have decorated the American embassy near Dublin.
My 7th grade teacher, Sister Jean Marie, shared with me her fantasy of a cabin "beautifully decorated and a fireplace. Outside it would be snowing and the wind would sing lullabies in the trees.
"Meeting each of you, I would have a special gift from the Christ Child..."
Can't improve on that for a holiday greeting.
* * *
Wishing all of you lots of homemade snacks, goopy confections, newsletters and time to spend with family and friends. Merry Christmas.