They say you can’t have your cake and eat it too. But that’s not necessarily the truth. All too often it seems we measure out cakes and our lives by an “all or nothing” standard. Why is it that we either eat our whole cake or have our whole cake? What’s wrong with just one piece?
Saturday afternoon I baked a cake. It was a triple chocolate fudge cake with fresh raspberries from the farmer’s market. I had no plans for the night and decided if I was going to do anything, it would have to revolve around this cake. As the day progressed, dessert turned into appetizers. This turned into dinner and cocktails and the makings for a perfect get-together. Only problem? No guests. My first call was to a friend I had exchanged numbers with earlier in the week. My message explained that “we all” were having dinner and drinks at my house before heading out to DP. Of course at this point “we all” really meant “me all” but certainly my choice of wording sounded much better. Six calls later, I had a guest list and an invite to attend a “dress like your roommate” party at the house I lived in last year.
Since I have no roommate now, I decided to dress as my roommate from the previous year. I went shopping for a perfect outfit, an outfit representational of someone besides me. The best part was a perfect pair of shoes. I would never have bought these particular shoes myself, but somehow wearing them, I felt like part of something.
I had just finished showering when my phone rang. One by one, friends called to excuse themselves from coming over. Slowly but surely, my guest list deteriorated. My dinner for eight had become dinner for one. I ate the food, but saved the cake for later. I’m not sure why I didn’t cut myself a piece then and there. I suppose it just looked too complete sitting on my counter. And somehow a cake with just one slice missing was not what I had envisioned.
When I arrived at the party, I realized I was not the center of attention as I had planned. I found myself lost in the jumble of bodies and wondered who I thought I was fooling. My delusions of grandeur, of walking into the party with the best costume and stealing the spotlight were nowhere in sight. Somehow in the midst of drunken acquaintances and new faces, I felt completely alone. Unsure of what was missing, I decided to call the night quits.
I spent the rest of the evening on the couch, condemned to roll the events of the night over and over in my head. I never heard from any of the people who had promised to call. My “Sex and the City” Saturday night had become a rerun of “Trading Spaces” Saturday night. Even with a fabulous dessert, in a fabulous apartment and wearing fabulous new shoes, I was all alone.
Somewhere between pity and hunger it hit that a chocolate cake was waiting for me and despite the fact that no one was around, I could still enjoy it. After all, it was my cake. Mine to eat, certainly mine to share, but most importantly mine to savor. I had felt ashamed to take one piece for myself because somehow one piece seemed isolated and alone. But that’s ridiculous. One piece is not worthless without the rest of the cake. And there was nothing wrong with making the cake for myself. Suddenly one slice didn’t look so lonely. It looked confident. And real.
Randall Shulman is an undeclared junior.