Reading this story aloud (at least the first half) will allow you to understand how the mix-up occurred.
Last week my sister ordered a cake from her local bakery for our brother’s 50th birthday: a carrot cake.
On Friday morning my sister went to the bakery and said “I’m here to pick up my carrot cake.” The bakery staff handed her a white cake box and she departed, putting the cake in the rear of her car. She then embarked on the long drive to my brother’s house.
Four hours into her drive, the bakery called her. “When are you coming to pick up your carrot cake?” they asked. “Umm … it’s in the back of my car. I picked it up at 9 o’clock this morning,” she replied. “No, your carrot cake is right here,” the baker insisted.
My sister pulled over, opened the hatch of her car, and lifted the lid of the bakery box. Inside was a beautiful chocolate bundt cake, lightly dusted with powdered sugar, and etched in chocolate icing with the words “Happy Birthday Kara. We love you.” It was a gorgeous specimen of a Kara cake.
Neither my sister nor the baker will admit to having had to change their pants as a result of the laughing fits that ensued, but both were temporarily rendered incapable of holding a phone, and they agreed to speak in a few minutes, after they had composed themselves. Poor Kara’s pandemic birthday, they later agreed, just got a whole lot worse.
On our end, the fallout of the cake switch was inconsequential compared to the enjoyment my family derived from the mistake. Had it been a wedding cake, we might have been irritated, but as a 50th birthday cake in the midst of a pandemic it couldn’t have been more perfect. (Actually, we tried to further its excellence by studding it with the only birthday candles we had on hand – a couple of 1-inch stubs that seemed to have one more birthday in them if the blower didn’t hesitate too long – until we remembered that blowing across food that other people will eat is a big no-no during COVID.)
Our family speculated about Kara for quite some time, wondering about her age, her temperament, and her reaction to the cake mix-up. We referenced Kara often, creating a life for her built entirely on conjecture, supposition and a hypothesized distaste for carrot cake.
Pre-COVID, we might not have thought about Kara much. But if this pandemic is good for one thing it’s reminding us how interconnected we all are. We are, in so many ways, living the same lives. The similarities of our daily operations are striking, much more so than the differences are in normal times. We’re having the same tiny birthday celebrations; we’re even eating the same cakes. We are, across the COVID chasm, singing the same songs, as we did to my brother, around his candle-less cake: “happy birthday dear Kara, happy birthday to you.”