It’s Hard Being Orna
March 26, 2007
So, I’m totally hung over. No, not from my birthday. I know this is a shocker, but a 49th birthday is something one really has to work at getting excited about. I always enjoy my birthday, mostly because of the wine. But still. 49. Woop-de-freakin’-do, if you get my drift. Don’t get me wrong–I’m happy to be here! Loving every minute! Cherish is the word I use to describe!
What I am hung over from is the Cake That Nearly Killed Me.
Last Thursday, I left the knitopian scene at Strawberry Fields and headed to my pal Orna’s house to make The. Cake. This was the cake for the Cast Party of the 4th Grade Play. The Cast Party Committee assigned Orna, a celebrated baker, to make the cake. I assigned myself to assist Orna in this endeavor. By which I mean, to keep Orna on Planet Earth. This is not easy.
Here is a typical conversation.
The Scene: Orna’s Kitchen, past bedtime for all children except mine and Orna’s.
Orna (speaking in charming accent of her native Tel Aviv): KAY! I don’t know what we are going to do about the LOGISTICS of the REFRIGERATION! Please tell me: How are we going to transport this cake! My GOD KAY IT’S A HUGE CAKE! We’ll never do it! How can we do it? Can you tell me, HOW?
Kay (totally charmless accent): Erm, Orna, as I was saying, could we not solve the whole problem of refrigeration by eliminating the creme patissiere and its 18 eggs, and the 9 pounds of buttercream frosting? How about if we just made, like….[steps back to shield herself from the blast of Orna's anticipated reaction]…. a regular cake? We could just make a chocolate cake–a really GOOD chocolate cake, Orna, an UNFORGETTABLE chocolate cake–and decorate the living HECK out of it, just using a type of frosting that could–you know–sit out overnight without breeding lethal bacteria? That would make life a whole lot easier than your plan to divide the cake into regions, and have each of us take our region of the cake home to our refrigerator (which we have emptied of other food), and then transport our region to school tomorrow, to refrigerate it in the school cafeteria’s walk-in unit (which has been emptied of other food), and then to reassemble the decorated cake in time for the party? I mean, don’t you think?
Orna: No, no, no, no, no! Without the buttercream and the creme patissiere —-oh KAY! I forgot to tell you that what we are going to do is, we are going to mix the creme patissiere with whipped cream, to LIGHTEN IT, so it’s not so HEAVY–without all of these dairy products, Kay, the cake will be NO. GOOD. We cannot serve such a cake on such an occasion. No, no, no.
Kay: [Sighs]. But Orna. The dairy is what is making all these logistical problems. The dairy, and the fact that we don’t want to kill everybody after the play.
Orna: You know what? I know you’re right. But I cannot do it that way.
Kay: Why not?
Orna: [sighs] It’s hard being Orna.
We had this conversation about 20 times. Sometimes I would send somebody else to have this conversation with Orna. (One person, who obviously didn’t know who he was dealing with, uttered the unfortunate phrase, ‘Duncan Hines’.) We kept having this conversation. Orna kept making batches of buttercream. Eventually I gave up. After hours of collaboratively decorating the cake to recreate the setting of Charlotte’s Web, in the middle of the night, I drove 2 regions of the cake to our as-yet-uninhabited apartment, where I placed each region on a shelf of our as-yet-unused fridge. The next morning I picked up my regions and, cursing at Hubby in a most shameful way—for it was not Hubby’s fault that I was smeared with buttercream and stressed out of my ever-lovin’ TREE, but somehow it seemed that way at the time–got my regions to the school cafeteria. Thence to the party. Thence to the Glory Of It All.
Here’s the cake. Here’s Orna.
All was forgiven when the kids stampeded over to see the cake. They marvelled at its size and at the parental labor that obviously went into its rustic decoration. This was no store-bought cake, for sure. Since they had so recently completed their own labors over the sets and learning their lines and singing their songs, they really appreciated it. Pictures do not do it justice. It was a radiant cake.
I would be remiss if I did not share a picture of Fern Number 2 of 6. My Carrie was born to play Fern Number 2 of 6. She ROCKED Fern Number 2 of 6. I was proud to see my adamantly unadorned child wearing a bandana. That’s Method Acting. That’s commitment. That’s craft.
Here, Fern Number 2 of 6 leads Wilbur Number 1 of 8 into the Zuckerman Barn. Attentive readers will note that Wilbur’s costume appears to be vintage Balenciaga. The capelike design was to ensure that Wilburs 1 Through 8 could all wear the costume and easily get it on and off. Ensuring that there was a costume ready for each player at the appropriate time was a logistical challenge to rival the Invasion of Normandy.
In 1945 they didn’t have XXL ZipLoc bags.
Back to The Cake for a second: I would like to thank Amber for her suggestion about crushed Oreos looking eggzackly like potting soil. That tip was crucial to the success of our manure pile. Crucial, I tell you.