Sunday afternoon saw us driving frantically across Cape Town trying to hit as many Checkers stores as we could before closing time.
Why? Because I want to have a cake this year for my birthday and I don’t want to have to bake it myself.
It’s interesting how times have changed. A few years back I was determined to make “trying a fantastic new cake recipe” a birthday tradition. But that was before eating flour was a no-no.
The first birthday that I spent gluten intolerant, I baked a cake that tasted like cardboard and that no one in the office was brave enough to try (I literally ate the whole thing minus I think three pieces accepted by people too polite to decline). The next year, I drove around with my mom on the day itself trying to seek out somewhere – anywhere – that could offer me a slice of gluten-free cake while we had tea and exchanged gossip. Alas, we were unsuccessful in our quest and I eventually ended up with a puddle of what was deemed “cheesecake” but was actually an overpriced sour lump of white mush. The only thing we ended up trading over our tea were tears of frustration.
(There’s a lesson here about prioritising treats over experiences… but I clearly haven’t learned it yet. )
Last year I just gave up and got a muffin.
This year, being a big birthday, I wanted to plan ahead. There is exactly one brand that does pre-made, vacuum-sealed sponge cakes. (Doesn’t that just sound tasty?) I’ve tried them and am pleased to report that they do, in fact, taste better than the Cardboard Cake of 2014. A lovely friend of mine who bakes and decorates cakes professionally even offered to stack a few of them together and ice them for me. If you’d seen her cakes you’d understand just how excited I was about this plan.
Then we couldn’t track the damned things down. It turns out that this weekend was the one that every curious Banter chose to try the cakes.
We drove from Kenilworth to Blue Route, to Canal Walk and back to no avail. Poor Graham played chauffeur fortified only with a meagre McDonald’s burger (because we may have both forgotten to eat – this is why we likely should never be parents). He was endlessly patient with my panic and despair… and went to check the healthy food market near his work during lunch break on Monday. There they were! Perhaps that should have been our Plan A to begin with. There’s a lesson here about over-complicating things that I probably also will never learn.
Talking of learning things, I mentioned just now how it’s a big birthday. Well, it’s my 30th. When I think of turning 30, I think of Ally McBeal. There was a whole episode about her turning 30 (literally, it was called Turning Thirty)
And then I get scared because I know the episode opened with her freaking out about turning “the big 3 – 0”, and that makes me think that I should be freaking out. And then I get even more scared because that episode aired in 2000 and that was seventeen years ago. What??
Okay, but in all honesty, I’m not that scared. I’ve never really been one for measuring myself against societal norms (probably because back when I did that I used to fall inexorably short, so I decided to rather become “interesting” and “eccentric” and the kind of person who uses “inexorably” in a sentence). I remember when I turned 16, I felt terribly unqualified to be that old. The same with being 18 – I’d never even had a boyfriend! When I turned 21 I was surrounded by other crazy 21-year-olds so I felt a bit better, and the feelings that weren’t better got drowned in alcohol. Now at 30, I feel like I overshot the mark and have fallen somewhere on the other side of 80. I have back problems, dietary issues and spend my evenings knitting or writing with my spectacles perched askew upon the tip of my nose (yea, I just got new glasses so I’m still working on focusing properly).
But if I’m a 30-year-old 80-year-old, I’m a happy one. I have grandpa “get-off-my-lawn” Graham at my side, a large circle of supportive friends across the world, and a job I don’t hate.
Which is I guess all that one can ask for at 30 if one still wishes to enjoy the odd avo toast.