The Saddest Wedding Cake That Ever Was
Once upon a time there was a wedding cake which was made for the nuptials of a young couple who had met at a bus stop and fallen in love. It had seemed to the girl that she would never find a beau, and had given up looking. People, she knew, called her “homely,” which was a euphemism for someone who rode the 61 into town at 4:30 pm to begin her working day as an office cleaner. The young fellow usually rode his bicycle in to work, but it had a flat tire and so he’d taken the bus instead. They’d gotten off at the same stop and found themselves waiting for the 61 again later that night, alone together under a streetlight in the light drizzle.
One thing had led to another fairly rapidly, and a wedding was required. The young man wore his best pair of trousers and trimmed his beard; his bride put on blue eye shadow and a smile. Her aunt had made the cake “on the cheap,” as she said, due to the lack of advance notice, and felt she couldn’t be blamed for it. “You get what you pay for,” she was often overheard claiming, as if this explained most things.
It was necessarily a small reception, things being what they were — just a few photos of the happy pair, and a few of the parents too, the groom’s father grimacing for the camera. They held it in the pub’s back room before the evening crowd piled in. There were drinks of course — pints of bitter, mostly — and a small bowl of mixed nuts. The bride’s mother popped next door for a bag of bon-bons to liven things up when it looked like the nuts would go a bit quick.
The wedding cake wore a tulle-covered heart made from two pipe cleaners, and a sugar bell atop cement-like icing which had been applied with what could only be called a heavy hand. It was plain sponge, without vanilla, because the aunt had run out and not realized until it was too late.
The saddest wedding cake that ever was sat on the bar while the wedding party drowned their sorrows in beer. All except the bride, that is, who sipped at a glass of orange juice, Doctor’s orders. Every now and then she ran her hand over her belly self-consciously, just in case it had all been a dream.
Eventually, the bar became noisy, and smoky, and someone, no-one knows who, accidentally stubbed out a cigarette on the top tier. Someone else poked a finger into one side, and still another drew an obscene picture in the icing with a cocktail sword.
It was only after the married couple roused themselves at noon the next day that they remembered the cake. But by then it had considered itself abandoned, and thrown itself away.
Pies and Cakes, Better Homes and Gardens, 1967
Also from this book: Déclassé Pie