Once Upon a Time...

Autumn, 1980 appx.

On a warm, autumn evening of my childhood, my mother busily prepared cupcakes for one of her four children to take to school the next day. I am sure whichever of us needed the cupcakes had informed her of said need approximately 1 hour before the grocery store closed that night and about half-past-her-last-ounce-of-energy ran out. Thank heavens, the Piggly Wiggly was only moments from home!

In my mind, I see these cupcakes as chocolate cake, moist and succulent, with a white butter cream icing. She possibly made an extra effort at helping them not look so-last-minute; maybe decorating them with some hard candy centered on the top of each one. These were placed neatly in rows on a baking sheet, as they were every time my mother sent cupcakes to school, all ready to be taken with us to school the next morning.

In the morning, like every morning, we frantically tried to get ready while sharing one bathroom. We finally scrambled out to the car, the four of us snatching and grabbing and pulling on book bags and coats, teeth not well brushed, shoes on the wrong feet. My mom opened the door to our baby blue station wagon with "wood" paneling sides. She gingerly placed the pan of cupcakes on the back seat, as she backed out of the car, our dog made an impressive leap into the car (he did so hate being left behind). He was on the final descent of landing directly on top of unprotected cupcakes, his warm foot pads just beginning to press into the tasty cakes, managing to smear icing on himself and the car seat. Before he had fully landed my mother  had a conniption fit, screaming obscenities with the practiced ease of a long-at-sea-sailor. The dog turned in mid-land and flew as far away as he can from the God-awful explosion of noise, tucking his tail between his legs and making for the woods. In horrified silence, we all stared dumbfounded at the disaster that has begun and ended in less than 5 seconds.

After much crying and moaning about never being able to have anything "nice", my mother pulled it together and did that only thing she could do at that late hour. She took the cupcakes in the house, pulled out the ones that are completely smooshed and proceeded to pick dog hair off the otherwise untouched cupcakes. This was in the days before there were prettily packaged cupcakes waiting to be purchased by harried moms in every grocery store bakery section. There was no such thing as a Wal Mart on the next corner. She did what she had to do, people! After the final Hair-a-la-German-Shepherd was picked off, she repositioned all the cupcakes, screamed at us to get in the car as she exited the house. She handed the tray to whoever got the front seat that day and we pulled out of the driveway.

Someone, one of my sisters-or-brother-in-arms, had to walk into school with those desecrated cupcakes. The shame burning hot on their cheeks as they held their tongue against the spew of information about how those cupcakes had been victimized. They watched in embarrassment as their classmates ate the canine cakes, oohing and aaahing as they licked their fingers of icing.

Thank God it wasn't me.

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