Saturday, October 18, 2008

Go Vols

I broke the law this morning. Yes, that's right -- broke the law. I was waiting at a red light for what seemed like forever. "Why is this light taking so long?!?!" I was literally speaking (or maybe yelling) outloud in the car. There were no cars, and therefore, the green light was giving the right of way to no one. I crept up a foot or two...and then again...inching my way towards that imaginary sensor that lives under the street. Unfortunately, this was a side street and I don't think it was equipt with the sensor. So, there I am sitting, starting at the red light, and NO CARS are passing. Not a single car. I am stopped for no good reason. Brentwood, TN is the sleepiest town ever at 9:00 on a Saturday morning. The only people who are awake and about are either at Starbucks or their kids soccer game.

I started to get The Rage. For those of you who don't know me well enough, I get easily worked up about things...actually, pretty much everything. My outsides look the same for the most part, but my insides turn into a 350 lb. sweaty mobster with high blood pressure about to blow your shit to pieces with a machine gun. So the mobster in me told me to run the light. Of course, I was very cautious about it...tripple checking that the coast was clear of other drivers and that the Brentwood Police was nowhere in sight. They are completely unmerciful.

Anyway, you may be wondering what I was doing in Brentwood at 9:00 on a Saturday morning. Given that it's officially Fall, I should have been at the knitting store, but instead I have other, more important obligations today. Today is Sean's 30th birthday party (although, his actualy 30th birthday isn't until Tuesday) so I was picking up his cake from the Flour Shop.

The Flour Shop has been around for as long as I can remember, and they're very well known for their delicious cakes. But I'd be willing to bet they're also known for the crotchity old lady that runs the place. Don't get me wrong -- I love the Flour Shop and I love Iris. I wouldn't change her for the world, and I've always had very good experiences with her. The Flour Shop is where we got our wedding cake without even considering anyone else. Iris is a good old Southern woman who could bake anyone under the table, but she's got a really hard she's had to deal with some tough shit, and she won't smile at you until you've earned it. This is why I like her so much, but she's also very intimidating.

As a first-time visitor, I was a little surprised that Iris didn't give me her undivided attention while I muddled over which wedding cake design to purchase. When I entered the small shop, I was asked what I wanted, and when I said, "I'm interested in a wedding cake" I thought I would be treated a certain way. You know, as a bride you get a lot of OOoos and Ahhhs from retail women. They start asking you questions about your wedding and your colors and the date and the chapel...But not a The Flour Shop. "Here, hon," she said...and she slammed down a giant photo album on the table. It had pictures and clippings from magazines falling out of every divider and it was all kinds of disorganize (probably from frequent use). "Come find me when you know which one you want," and then she disappeared into the kitchen. I realized she didn't mean any offense...she's just a busy lady and she means business. It didn't benefit her to sit down with me and browse through a million pictures of cakes that she could probably decorate in her sleep. She didn't need to schmooze me or upsell me or convince me that I needed something I didn't want. Her product sells itself.

Flipping through the album, I came across a snapshot of a gorgeous cake, so I carried it to the counter with me. She looked at it, stapled it to an order form, and handed me a pen. When I was finished, she browsed the order and said "Payment's due 2 weeks before the wedding. Cash or check only. We'll get it to the reception at 4:00. Any questions?" Nope. So I bought a wedding cake in 15 minutes, and I thought to myself, "Now that's how you plan a wedding." I wish everything would've been that simple...

I originally wanted to bake a homemade birthday cake for Sean, and I asked him what flavor he wanted. When he said, "Red Velvet" I thought, "Ok...I can do this....maybe..." I've never made a cake from scratch before and Red Velvet sounds intimidating for some reason. Sure, I've used the boxed stuff, but this is Thirty, and Thirty is a Big Deal. And boxed cake, unfortunately, does not equal a Big Deal. I started browsing recipes and checking out equpment and ingredients, and realized I wasn't equipt to bake from scratch. There's not even room in our kitchen for all the pans and cooling racks. Plus, I don't have one of those fancy hands-free mixers. Too many things to buy, and too many techniques that I've never tried. In an effot to keep myself stress free (which is a neverending challenge), I decided to call the Flour Shop.

Wednesday I the shop on my lunch break. Iris answered in her hard-edge voice, "Flour Shop." To be honest, I wasn't even sure I had called the right place. I expected to hear a sweet, Southern greeting like, "Hello, and thank you for calling the Flour Shop on this beatiful day. This is Iris. What can we do for you?" Haha. Nope. So I said, "I need to place an order - do y'all make Red Velvet cake?" if a damn bakery in the South wasn't going to have Red Velvet. I'm sure Iris was rolling her eyes at me. "Yes, hon" she said impatiently. "Ok, then. I need a cake for about 20 people." "We have a cake for 24." So I said, "Yes, that'll do."

"What's the name?"

"Sean. S-E-A-N."

"Hold on." She said. I could tell someone had entered the shop, and now, for some crazy reason, I felt paniced to get off the phone. I felt like I was bothering her. This is how I am as a patron, and I can't explain it.

She picked up again. "Ok, Sean S-E-A-N," she repeated. "What kind of decorations?"

"Well..." I started off slowly as I pondered what to order. I hadn't even thought about how to decorate it so I said, "Well, not flowers because he's a guy..."

"Balloons? Does he want balloons? We can do balloons."

"No, no balloons...umm...."

"What kind of sports does he like? Does he like fisihing? Basketball? Baseball? Football?"
She was rattling off questions to me like I was on some 30-second gameshow, and I totally buckled under the pressure. I definitely did NOT want a sports-themed cake, but my head was completely blank.

"Football," I said. Shit! I didn't mean to say that!

"Ok, what's his favorite team?"

"UT." Double shit!!! I really really didn't want to say that!

"Alright, we have Red Velvet, Happy Birthday Sean, S-E-A-N, Football, UT. When do you need it and what time do you want to pick it up?

By this point, I realized I had made a terrible mistake, but I didn't know how to tell Iris that this wasn't what I wanted. So I said, "Saturday 9:00 a.m."

"Ok, see you at 9. Cash or check only."

I cannot bake, and apparently I'm not good at ordering either. It's a good thing Sean has a great sense of humor. We laughed for about 10 minutes when I came home with this jewel. He was a good sport about the whole thing (pun intended).

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