Friday, September 3, 2010

Jim Tiernan's Cake: Urbandale 1975

Thsi was the second-to-last year of high school for me. This was a post football season, or maybe it was homecoming during football season. I was on that team, but the next year (my senior year) I quit football (among many other things I quit). Jim was on the team--offensive guard, I believe--and he was a friend of mine.
Anyway, the cheerleaders or pom pom girls had baked each football team member a cake, or some such thing, and after the ceremonies at the gym we all got our cakes. I did not get my cake because I didn't give a damn about a cake. (I'm thinking maybe this was in 76 and the cakes were baked for the senior homecoming ball players, which I would not have been one of.) But, Jim liked his cake. Afterwards we were goofing around--our group of me, Jim, Randy, Bill, Dave and some others, maybe Rick--and it was busy outside the high school with cars coming and going and students and parents. It was evening. Maybe a light rain. Somehow, I had Jim's home-baked cake and, as a practical joke, I decided to put it out in the parking lot, in the driveway in and out of the lot to be exact, and watch the cake get run over. My friends were in on it, but i was the one to put the cake out there.
Jim discovered this act of treason. He wanted his cake! I was surprised that he wanted it, that it meant something to him. I suddenly felt bad about putting his cake out in the driveway. And . . . too late . . . just as Jim was going to go out and get it, a car came along and SQUISH ran right over his homecoming cake.
Ah. I did feel bad. Still do to some degree (no guilt like a midwesterner's guilt). But the thing was, I really didn't think he'd care. Who wanted a cake? Part of it was I didn't much care for sweets. I mean, I loved to eat, but a cake? The other was that--at that time--I considered it a silly gesture, someone baking a cake for you, for the team. Just more small town high school nonsense to me. But Jim wanted it, he was looking forward to eating it, I think and maybe even had a certain high school-sentimental attachment to the whole thing. Ah. But to his credit, Jim never held it against me, his squashed cake in the road, in the light rain. I have not talked to him in decades, but we remained friends.
And if this was in 76 and not 75, if it happened when I'd quit the team and was full of bile and uber-sarcasm towards Urbandale High, then the implications of my actions are different. Then there could easily be read some deeper meanings of resentment or revenge or self-loathing into my destruction of that football cake.
Or, then again, sometimes a cake is just a cake.

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