Goodbye Twelve, Hello Thirteen…

Cake Pop Candle

Last summer, I made the mistake of letting my twelve year-old goddaughter thumb through a copy of Matt Armendariz‘s On a Stick!, which he had been kind enough to send me.

“Omigodcakepops!” she gasped and held open the pages as if looking at a pornographic centerfold. “I want these for my birthday!”

Her birthday was about six months away, incidentally. I had suffered through helping her bake rainbow cupcakes for her last birth anniversary, I’d be hanged if I’d stand by and let cake pops take over the next. I debated sending Mr. Armendariz a letter of complaint, but she was so in love with the idea I didn’t have the heart to say no. Instead, I offered a compromise:

Cake pops are easy. Cake pops supported by delicate birthday candles are not easy.

“Tell you what. I think you should have an actual cake on your birthday, but we’ll make cake pops, too. We can decorate the cake with them. The sticks will look like candles.”

To which she added: “Wouldn’t it be cool if the sticks were candles?”

Umm, yes, it would.

Over Christmas, I reminded the young lady of my promise to make the cake (pops and all) and asked her to clarify her preferences.

“Purple velvet ice cream cake with cream cheese frosting. Oh! And the cake pops!*” It was the fanciful, impractical request of a child. As her slave, I did her birthday cake bidding.

Not-quite purple, not-quite velvet cake batter.

I wanted the cake to be incredible, but am mercifully aware of my own cake-decorating limitations. After all, I am no Gail Dosik. I cheated twice. First, by not making a true velvet cake; second, by not churning my own ice cream. Pistachio. Her request, which is not the typical ice cream request of a child.

Things didn’t go smoothly. Birthday candles warped under the weight of drying cake pops.  The color of the ice cream was more glowing uranium than pale pistachio; it bled and seeped as I raced to spread it over the cake’s bottom layer. In my haste to freeze it, I jammed it into the freezer in such a way that the door could only be re-opened by force, which caused the cake to smash against the side of the appliance. I neglected to make enough cream cheese frosting to cover the scars and bright green oozes and bruises. But, after a little champagne and minor cursing, it didn’t matter.

The neon guts of the thing.

What mattered, I suppose, was that a throng of teenaged girls loved it. Well, they loved the cake pops certainly. They ate what was underneath when there were no more of them to devour. What (seemingly) took forever to produce was gone in no time.

Just like my goddaughter’s little girlhood.

The cute toddler who referred to dump trucks as “dumb fucks”, the precocious three year-old who knew the difference between French and Swiss gruyère cheese, the five year-old who invented her own superhero persona is growing up.

Fast. She’s on Facebook. She just got her own phone. She wonders why some boys look at her funny, which is more than likely because she’s growing into a really attractive young woman. It’s almost enough to make me understand the appeal of burkas. And I’m only her godfather.

It will be interesting to see what the next thirteen years bring her.

For her twenty-sixth birthday, I do not see myself baking her a cake, but rather buying her champagne. In a tony, decaying bar in Venice (if it’s still above water in 2025). As the lowering sun filters through the warped and filmy ancient windowpanes, which will cast dramatic shadows over our profiles, we will discuss her recent string of lovers and rate their merits and flaws and suitability (I am, after all, her church-sanctified moral advisor): The Margrave’s son, The Bullfighter, The Aviatrix. She will take my advice to heart, but arrive at the decision on her own:

Which will be not to marry until she’s thirty. And only to someone who will appreciate her for the smart, beautiful, geeky, challenging, wonderful girl woman she will be.

In the meantime, I pray we all survive her teens. I’ve bought her a year’s subscription to The New Yorker to help ease the transition. Whether or not it will most benefit the birthday girl or her parents remains to be seen.

Happy Birthday, Gisela.

* There is no recipe for this cake, because it was made one time only, for one person only.

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About Michael Procopio

I write about food and am very fond of Edward Gorey. And gin.
This entry was posted in Holidays, Rants and Stories, Sweets and the Like and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Goodbye Twelve, Hello Thirteen…

  1. Ellen Fitz says:

    Z is a lucky goddaughter!

  2. Genie says:

    You have the gift of bringing me to tears with your storytelling, Michael. What a fantastic present (I mean that in both senses of the word), and what a lovely future vision. And the photo…well, it’s perfection. Happy birthday to your goddaughter, and many happy returns.

  3. I wish you were my godfather.

  4. Broderick says:

    Love the story! Happy birthday G!

  5. Sarah says:

    Lucky girl!

  6. Scott_D says:

    That brightened my day. So glad to know that I’m not the only to have the best laid plans go completely awry. I once locked a goose in the stove and the stove went into the self-clean cycle.

  7. Is it too late to ask you to be my 5-year-old’s godfather? This summer’s Lightning McQueen cake almost killed me. It would be swell to foist–ahem, pass–that responsibility off to someone else.

    Seriously, you’re an amazing godfather. She’s one lucky girl.

    • I am so out of touch with children’s films that I had to look up Lightning McQueen. I now understand how that almost killed you. You have my deepest sympathies.

      And thank you. I like to think I’m a decent godfather, but there’s always room for improvement.

  8. Deanna says:

    My godfather is pretty awesome, but not awesome enough to bake me a cake on my birthday. In high school he did take me to the cross town game in a Bentley, so I’ll forgive him for the lack of cake.

  9. Laurie says:

    Michael,
    What a touching story and the perfect ending to my day. Oh, the joys of sweet young girls. She’s lucky to have you as her godfather.

    Laurie

    • I had debated adding a video of Maurice Chevalier singing “Thank Heavens for Little Girls” from Gigi but, the more I thought about it, the song really creeps me out. Besides, I tried to get my goddaughter and her sister to watch the film a couple of years ago, but they found a movie about courtesans boring.

      So we watched a movies about cross-dressing instead: Victor/Victoria. (Which they loved).

  10. Amber says:

    Lovely story! Reminds me of my tween nieces. Can you come up with a recipe to stop them from growing up??

    • For growth-stunting purposes only, I would prescribe 30+ hours a week of gymnastics and a 2 pack-a-day smoking habit.

      Please let me know how that works out for you.

      And, in all seriousness, thank you.

  11. Katrina says:

    Michael, this post was is so incredibly sweet and touching. The post is amazing, the cake is amazing, and most importantly, you are amazing.

    • Thank you. I’m so delighted that people like this post. It was just a little something a felt like writing up after the party.

      The cake wasn’t that fantastic, but it was kinda fun. Then again, I always judge everything I do entirely too harshly.

  12. Jay Floyd says:

    That I now want cake pops is entirely your fault. That’s just how it works. Sorry.

  13. Fatemeh says:

    Le sigh.

    I might believe in god if it meant I could have a godfather like you.

    Here’s to 13 years of memories made, and 13 years of memories yet to find.

    • If it’s any consolation, G-d hasn’t entered into our relationship since she got that water sprinkled over her head by that guy in the dress.

      I like the notion of memories yet to find. Thank you.

  14. I just discovered your blog yesterday, searching for tapenade history, and I love the way you write.

  15. Awwww…..what a sweet Godfather you are! Who can blame her for wanting cake pops? I want cake pops too!

  16. Dee says:

    Love. This. Post. Thank you for sharing all of your gifts with us.

  17. Thea says:

    This post is everything charming – story, photo, teenager, godfather. Looking forward to reading the post on your Venice 2025 meetup.

  18. ron says:

    simply perfect. even in all it’s imperfections. simply perfect. you made your god daughter’s birthday, and i bet she didn’t even notice the misshapen cake. only the amazing cake pops and the fact that her godfather loves her so much to grant her birthday wish. she will tell this story for years to come, and i bet she never mentions the flaws, only the perfection of the cake pops, and her godfather. lucky girl. lucky girl, indeed.

  19. Charlotte says:

    What a sweet tribute to your goddaughter. I know she appreciated it – if not in words now, then later, as she remembers the effort you put into making sure she felt special.

    • Thanks, Charlotte. Fortunately, the girl’s special enough without my having to call attention to it. However, as her doting godfather, it’s part of my job description to call attention to it.

  20. Roy says:

    cupcakes, rainbow colors, cake pops… one could begin to see the underpinnings of a joie de vivre. soon there will emoticons sprinkled through posts liberally.

  21. Lawrence in Ohio says:

    Oh, Michael……..

    Delightful post, as always.

    I AM at the “thirteen years plus” stage with my nieces. It’s been an amazing ride.

    They both are fiercely intelligent, beautiful, strong, healthy, and and and.

    Even though I am somewhat-to-very adept with desserts, they ask for things like my balsamic-Dijon chicken or my paprika potatoes when they come to visit.

    Now, my older niece and (egad!) her husband (!!!) have presented me with a great-nephew, now of four months of age. They gave him my middle name (something very UK “ethnic,”(?) and also my father’s middle name). Poor kid, but he does have a semi-trendy, semi-cool first name.

    It just gets better.

    Yrs,

    Lawrence in Ohio

    • Lawrence in Ohio says:

      PS-

      You rat-! I now have “Dance 10. . . .” running through my brain.

    • Wow am I behind in answering comments. Apologies!

      Be thankful the girls only ask for potatoes and chicken. When they start asking for cars, it’s all over.

      And I am delighted to have locked a show tune in your head. I consider that part of my job.

      Cheers,

      Michael

  22. Deanna says:

    That cake is perfect. I can see the love all over it!

  23. alison mcquade says:

    you did it – you really did it! gorgeous!

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