The Dirt Cake

The Electrician is washing dishes for me, right this very minute, because it is virtually impossible to wash a heavy Fiestaware (whoooo) plate with one awkward left hand and also because I am scared to put my wounded paw anywhere near hot soapy dish water. Have I mentioned lately that The Electrician rocks my socks? He does. The man is the (rugged, masculine) sprinkles on the cupcake that is my life.

Literally just as I finished writing that last paragraph, there came a terrific crash from my kitchen. Really! I truly could not make this stuff up. I hollered to my sweetie to find out the extent of the damage, both to him and to my dishes, and while he was fine, two of my glasses, dripping dry in the dishrack, had plunged simultaneously to their doom in a remarkably coordinated suicide dive. I have drinking glasses with four different coloured bottoms, but these were my favourites: the pink ones, both and all the pink ones, and they are gone forever. I guess I have drinking glasses in three colours now. Such is life.

Really, though, the pink ones? Come on, powers that be. Break the stuff I’m not so attached to, huh?

Anyway, The Electrician and his whole family love to joke around. Dinners with the family often involve laughs and good-natured teasing. It’s great to spend time with people who are always up for a giggle.

During one of the first meals I shared with The Electrician and his family, his little brother’s approaching birthday came up in conversation, and his grandmother asked what kind of cake he would like for the family meal. The Electrician’s little brother, henceforth referred to as TELB, replied with great conviction that he’d like a “dirtcake.” We all had this concoction as kids, the one with Oreo crumbs, cream cheese, and a heavy smattering of gummi worms. At the classiest birthday parties, it was served with a plastic sandbox shovel.

On the way home from dinner, The Electrician and I started chatting about the hilarity of TELB asking for a little kid’s birthday cake. What was next, a Power Rangers piñata?

I don’t recall who planted the seed that grew into our marvelous, evil birthday idea. What I know without a doubt is that our fabulous prank will go down in family history.

The Electrician and I arranged things ahead of time with his grandmother, who has an awesome sense of humour and was happy to play along. I struggled to keep a straight face through all the festivities.

After the main part of the birthday meal was enjoyed that Saturday, Chinese by TELB’s request, we turned the lights down and The Electrician  excused himself to light the candles on the dirt cake. The familiar strains of the birthday song began, and Electrician strolled back into the dining room carrying a beautiful footed trifle bowl, awash in the glow of 22 burning birthday candles. We all sang along, and The Electrician set the bowl down with a flourish with the final syllables.

TELB leaned in closely and blew out his candles, but the flames weren’t out before he recoiled in disgust. His girlfriend, a little nervous at her first family dinner, gasped and scrambled out of her chair. The Electrician and I grinned so wide our molars showed. Ohhhh, it was good.

The trifle bowl did not contain any Oreo bits, cream cheese, or gummy candy. What was layered in that elegant serving dish was damp black garden dirt and two dozen jumbo dew worms from The Fishin’ Hole. The entire contents of the bowl was shifting, pushed around by the writhing of so many worms, each as thick as my pinky. It was spectacular.

We did have a second, edible dirt cake, the way TELB envisioned it, although the serving bowl wasn’t as flashy. Despite the real cake being as requested, TELB’s girlfriend didn’t seem enthused about her dessert, poor girl.

I am a little nervous about retaliation, but I am soothing my fears with the possibly misguided belief that TELB will go after his sibling and not after me. We could call this the ostrich coping technique if you like.

Animal lovers, take heart: unlike the tragedy of Rusty, this story has a happy ending. The jumbo dew worms were set loose in a wildlife reserve to live out their days. They have been happily munching their way around The Electrician’s momma’s flowerbeds since their first and only performance in the big show.

To the fisherpeople out there: if you want your worms to really dance (because the fishies like ’em that way) light a few little fires directly over them. Bonus points for the hot, dripping wax.

copyright 2011:

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