in Columns Published in the Asheville Citizen-Times

The Chocolate Cake is Winking at Me

Asheville Citizen-Times 11/25/2013 –

The chocolate layer cake on the dining room table is for wife's afternoon bridge club. I'm not allowed to touch it -but maybe just a finger run lightly along a distant frosting edge. No one will notice.

The chocolate layer cake on the dining room table is for wife’s afternoon bridge club. I’m not allowed to touch it -but maybe just a finger run lightly along a distant frosting edge. No one will notice.

As he left the air terminal, the pilot saw the last available cab and jumped into the backseat just ahead of the female flight attendant who had been racing for the same taxi. He shrugged as the driver pulled away into the heavy rain.

Okay, okay. I’ll have them meet by accident in the hotel lobby, but in the meantime, this writing is tough and I’m thinking a little sugar break would make sense. I walk into the kitchen and head for the snack drawer—brownies, individually wrapped, 90 calories each. I take two, then think I better grab a third, just in case.

Dan, the pilot, accidentally runs into Sarah, the flight attendant, in the hotel lobby. He apologizes for hogging the taxi and offers to buy her a glass of wine to make up for being so rude. She accepts.

The post-breakfast brownies are long gone which is very irritating. I glance at my watch. It’s seven o’clock in the morning. One of the challenges of working alone at home is not overeating. But I learned long ago that maturity and self-restraint easily solve that problem.

The two are seated in the cocktail lounge. Across the table Dan catches the scent of Sarah’s perfume. He summons the waiter and after an extensive consultation, orders an elegant and complex Cabernet Sauvignon for Sarah and himself. Dan explains that science has proven that red wine and chocolate are good for the heart.

I suddenly remember there’s a chocolate layer cake on the dining room table. It’s for my wife’s afternoon bridge club. I’m not allowed to touch it which is just plain wrong because I want to do something good for my heart. I resist. Sort of. I leave my desk and once in the dining room, lightly run my finger along a distant frosting edge. No one will notice.

Sarah and Dan discover that they have much in common. They both enjoy long walks on the beach, theater, fine art, quiet time in front of a fireplace and . . . The Grateful Dead.

The Grateful Dead? The Grateful Dead? Yes! Perfect! There’s a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream—named after the musical groups lead singer, Jerry Garcia—that I’ve been saving for a rainy day. I look out the window—a couple of clouds. Close enough. Goodbye, Ben. Goodbye, Jerry. Ten minutes later, I toss the empty container into the garbage. I look to make sure there’s not another pint hidden behind the frozen peas. No luck. I run my finger along another side of the cake. I double-check to make sure Forensics couldn’t dust for fingerprints and track me down.

On the way back to the office, I change into sweatpants because of the adjustable waistline.

Dan and Sarah order a second glass of wine. Dan can’t help but notice how beautiful Sarah is as she stares at him across the table, her eyes locking onto his.

“You know I’m married,” she says quietly.

“I know. Me too,”Dan replies. He opens an after-dinner mint left in his jacket pocket from the night before.

Yes! Jackpot! I’d almost forgotten some leftover Halloween M&Ms in a bowl in a cabinet next to the sink. I discover at least twenty-five individual bags; six varieties. I take one of each, and because I’m watching calories, a Diet Coke. I open the M&Ms as I head back to the office. I glance in the full-length mirror along the way and realize how John Candy got his name.

Twenty minutes later: plain, peanut, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, pretzel, and mint—Finito!

After tipping the strolling violinist for playing “The Candy Man,” Dan turns to Sarah and softly asks, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

Sarah casts her eyes downward. “Maybe. What are you thinking?”

Dan swallows and with a quivering voice says, “I’d like to have a piece of chocolate cake.”

Sarah blushes. “What if you wife finds out?”

“I can’t resist. Did you see that dessert cart that just went by?”

“Yes, it was amazing, but what will your wife say?”

“She’ll never know. I’ll figure something out.”

“I can’t, Dan. An eight-inch wedge of a twelve-layer chocolate cake is too much.”

What does she know? She’s not even real. The knife is hovering over the chocolate frosting when the phone rings. It’s my wife. She’s very real. First words out of her mouth: “You didn’t touch that cake, did you?”

“I’m very disappointed that you feel you have to ask that question,” I respond indignantly. “Let’s not forget we’re adults. I never gave that cake a second thought.”

First, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth, yes, but never second.


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