Heartbreak, or How My Cake With A Learning Disability Helped A Little Bit
Eat cake? This seemed like a cryptic piece of advice from a friend, seeing as how the only thing I felt like consuming was a plate of broken glass or a rusty pile of nails. But cake seemed like an interesting, less painful deviation from the menu compared to the two previous alternatives, maybe I’d try it.
Standing in line at the Tom Thumb bakery felt like standing at Heaven’s gates on judgment day waiting for Saint Peter to rattle off my transgressions committed in my previous life.
“Oh Zack, it’s you! Let’s start, shall we? Let’s see, you swore a whole lot, your carbon footprint looked like a character from Precious, you only went to church when you were absolutely obligated to plus that one time you were in a Quincinera, and you paid money to have a pity cake made for yourself. Off to Hell you go!”
It was true, and standing in line for 20 minutes only made things worse, but it was my turn up to the batting cage with my very own Saint Petey, who took the form of a noticeably stoned-out-of-his-mind bakery employee.
“I need to order a cake.”
“Zack.” (Kids, this was mistake number one)
“What kind of cake?”
“Err…umm, like, vanilla?”
“And what would you like the cake to say?”
My first reaction was to say “The past month has been a living nightmare and I am racked with regret and total confusion.” But that obviously couldn’t fit.
“You’re going to be okay, Zack.”
This is the part of the purchase when shit took a stroll down awkward lane real fast. Though the pothead filling my order seemed just coherent enough to be copying a request for cake when asking the previous questions, he suddenly seemed more alert than a straight A college student on an Adderall binge as he put the pieces together, realizing the cake was for the moron standing before him. Had a professional psychiatrist been behind me in line, I am 100% sure they would have offered me six months of sessions, completely free of charge. But there we were, just me, a lit baker and our good friend Shame.
“Oh…okay…errr…yeah, alright.” These were the only words the employee could get out of his mouth. I think he might have wanted to ask me if I was alright, but the most redundant question is the one where you ask a person buying themself a cake if they are A-OK.
“It’ll be ready tomorrow.”
“Thanks…” as I hurried out of the store in a walk of shame far worse than the morning after you have sex with a complete stranger who you find looks nothing like the Channing Tatum you thought you met the night before.
Why was I buying a cake for myself like a crazy person, you wonder? Because I was, and still am, dealing with the universal experience we all feel at least once in our lives, sometimes many, many more times than just once. No, not Bieber Fever, but you guys should really back off ‘Baby’ was not THAT bad and I stand by it. No, I am not talking about a fascination with a tween pop star that is not even of age to purchase a pack of Pall Malls. I am talking about heartbreak. It has been almost a month, and it was only after this month that I started to rejoin the ranks of society as an actual functioning member instead of a walking ghost. A month filled with tons of crying, overanalyzing, more crying, and watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button alone in a dark room. That last revelation is probably the most disturbing of them all. But seeing as how this is a dreadfully true story, I should be honest with you, although I’m sure you don’t doubt that seeing as how I am the same guy who shamelessly admits to buying a cake for myself and then proceeds to write about it.
The first week is dedicated to total sadness and devastation. The second week, denial, when your friends take you out to get plastered and you end up slamming back seven Bay Breezes before firing off a drunk text that will make you feel less than Nobel Prize-worthy the next morning. The third week, you go through the motions, all the while psychoanalyzing absolutely everything and eating way too much fast food to cope. In the fourth week, I believe you’re legally obligated to do something ridiculous like buy a tanning membership in order to make you feel better about yourself. And, on week number five, you buy yourself cake.
“Order for Zack. You called and said it was ready.”
“Yes. Aaaaand here it is,” said a once again incredibly baked baker, pun intended if you want.
Oh my god, I thought to myself, staring down at the colorful monstrosity staring back at me. I didn’t even know where to start. It was the Murphy’s Law of cakes, anything that could’ve gone wrong with it, did.
“You misspelled the name. It’s Z-a-c-K, not Zach.” I had always thanked my parents for putting a ‘K’ instead of an ‘H’ at the end of my name, so as not to become victimized by the incessant “Haha your name is Zatch, ZATCH!” on the fourth grade playground. I thanked them, up until this moment in time. The only thing comforting about this disaster in the form of a giant sweet is that its baker and I seem to have very similar serial killer handwriting.
“And ‘Your’ is supposed to be ‘You’re.’ You know, like ‘you are’ as opposed to—“ this is where I cut myself off. It was pointless, I couldn’t be upset, I’m pretty sure the rules of buying a pity cake prohibited the purchaser from being mad when the result is a baked good with your misspelled name combined with a learning disability. Plus, who the hell was I to start giving this man a Language Arts lesson? I have never been one of those asshole English majors who acts ordained by God himself to patrol society while protecting the good name of grammar. I hope he did spend more time on a little girl or boy’s birthday cake before getting blazed and deciding to half-ass mine, because they deserve it, I do not.
“Nevermind, thanks. Here’s the money,” I said as I picked my dyslexic cake up off the counter and handed him $29.95 the masterpiece cost me. It was right, really. A perfect semblance of my life thus far. Marked with errors, missteps and mistakes but somehow finding a way. It was walking out of the store that I realized I would always be the Adam Brody of my own life, always shooting for the stars, hitting my head on the goddamn ceiling sometimes when I did. I would always be meant to have the perfectly imperfect, mutt of all cakes cake when things got rough. If I have to struggle, I know these things to be true, and as sad as it may sound to you, I’m perfectly okay, comforted even, with this setup. Whatever I have lost, no matter how much I miss it, having something, even if it is just a hideous icing-covered disaster, to call my own. This will always make things a little easier.
I am going to go eat cake now.
The concept for my book, “I’ll Show U Crazy,” centers around main character Zack Blows, who notoriously channels the often-insane and always ridiculously absurd voice of your psycho ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, an ex you’ve probably had to deal with at some point or another. If you’ve never experienced a crazed ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, YOU are that crazy ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Zack Blows lives life by the three S’s: Stubborn, stupid and pSycho. Although he is an absolute bitter ex who’s swan-dived off a cliff and into the deep end, there’s a poignant message in his advice and essays. A message that says sometimes we all channel our inner Taylor Swift, because being passionate about someone or something means abandoning all logic and being a little crazy. And I’LL SHOW U CRAZY!