what is coconut cake?

My mom, a great cook, owned a copy of “McCall’s Cooking School,” an extensive cookbook listing recipes for just about anything you could want, including cakes. When it came time for me and my two (soon to be three) brothers to celebrate our birthdays, Mom would pull out “Cooking School” and lead us through the cake section. For my fourth birthday, October 1988, I selected an enormous yellow school bus cake, a replica beyond replicas with candy accessories (Oreo wheels, licorice windshield wipers). I don’t remember much from that birthday, but I do remember that cake – Mom sculpted it exactly as it looked in the book.

The next October Mom again brought out “Cooking School.” As I was turning five I felt an enormous sense of maturity. I was now attending kindergarten, astonishing teachers with my knowledge of “The Price is Right” and state capitals. A young girl named Monica found me angelically attractive. My big blond curls never curled so perfectly. Five meant facing true manhood – no more Superman pajamas, because Batman had arrived. So as I searched through “Cooking School” I landed on a glorious sight fit for a mature, budding young man of five years. It was a grandiose white beast adorned with limes. A coconut cake. It nearly looked like a wedding cake. And I didn’t see that it was a coconut cake, I just saw the size, the scope, the texture, the class. This was the cake I needed for turning five. I pleaded. I begged. And Mom, being nothing short of wonderful, went to work on the beast.

A few days after I selected the coconut cake, and a few minutes after my family sang “Happy Birthday” to me, Mom unveiled the creation. It looked just like the picture: a rich vanilla-coconut cake blanketed in coconut shavings – not a spot left uncovered – topped by a few well-placed limes. It was gorgeous. The sort of cake fitting for maturity. But I was not quite there. Because I looked at the cake, and my eyes shrunk, and my lips felt sour, and I yelled, plainly and ignorantly, “I don’t like coconut!”

Mom’s face never looked so defeated.

Coconut cake, this site, is a collection of things I write. I might attempt to be ambitious, and I might be completely crazy, and you may not like it, but it’ll be defiantly me. I like epic, I like grandiose and I like the big picture. And funny enough, these days, I like coconut.


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