Of all the hobbies I've attempted the one I excelled at the least was cake-decorating. I had taken a class with my friend Cindy who, of course, turned out to be a natural--brilliant with buttercream, a Michelangelo of fondant flowers. Although I tried and tried to pay attention in class, my roses flopped over, my crumb layer was uneven and my frosting palette looked like a psychedelic album cover from the 60's. By the end of class I had more frosting in my hair than on the cake, in vivid streaks of neon green and screaming purple. Twenty years before people dyed their hair like that on purpose I was a trend-setter. I forgot to mention the homework, LOTS of homework, namely, baking a cake hours in advance so it would be cool enough to frost in class.
By all measurable standards I was a failure, although there is one person who wouldn't agree. Not my teacher, he knew I was hopeless. No, it was my wonderful husband, who forced himself to stay awake until I came home from class so he could "help" me into the house with my Frankenstein cake. He praised each of my creations as if it were a Monet instead of Picasso in his Cubist phase before shyly asking if he could have a piece. He LOVED my cake-decorating class.
I've since given away all the tools I bought for that class keeping only the cake container I used to transport the cakes back and forth. I remembered the teacher telling us about elaborate wedding cakes he'd created and how he prayed on the way to deliver them that they wouldn't fall over. Likewise, when I had a cake perched on the back seat, I drove like a little old lady on her way to church, barely hitting the gas, stopping carefully at each red light, nervously checking my precious cargo through the rear-view mirror. As a result I've become a more understanding driver, inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt instead of laying on the horn. Now, when I'm stuck behind a slow driver, I just smile to myself and think they must have a cake in the backseat. And maybe if I'm extra nice they'll give me a piece.