I've acquired an abundance of wisdom in my old age. And one important thing I've learned is that horrible things can be given wonderful names. Like: Friendly fire, Garnished wages, Rosacea - and the term "piece of cake".
From years of experience, I'm always skeptical about anyone who claims that a project or an activity is going to be "a piece of cake". It is usually never easy, doesn't taste good, and seldom feels good. It is not like cake at all. It is usually pain and poison in disguise.
Of course, I'm only speaking from personal experience here because I happen to be married to the man that owns the cake. And occasionally he entices me to help him in home projects that promise to be satisfying and sweet.
It all started early in our marriage. The old country house that we rented had a multitude of problems that required attention and repair. And one day in particular that I remember best is when the water pump quit working.
First off, let me say that our warm, clean and humble abode just happened to be built on top of a damp, dark and loathsome basement. There were cobwebs, a family of rodents, and creepy corners that hid a variety of monsters that I never actually saw, but knew were there.
Now, when my husband said this repair project would be "a piece of cake", I should have high tailed it down the road to the mall and shopped for shoes for the rest of the day. But I didn't.
And you know why? Because I was gullible and dumb. Because back in my childhood, anytime cake was used in a sentence, you can bet it was going to be delicious. Plus- the fact that I was a young bride willing to please. And if that meant helping with the plumbing, well then- I was willing to trust this handsome cake man.
I suppose that must have been one of my very first 'gopher" assignments. I fetched wrenches, rags and washers. I delivered screwdrivers, drills and beer. I ran upstairs to run the faucet, bleed the lines and to listen faithfully as he shouted instructions through the heat vents.
Besides the creepy feeling that my hair may have acquired a wisp of black widow web,
I was weary from the running and my brain made a mental note to never be manipulated by fancy words again. (Somehow, I lost that note.)
After thirty minutes or so, my husband trudged back upstairs and gave me that "you're gonna earn that piece of cake" look.
" What?" I said, " are we done?
" No. Not quite," he answered, almost nonchalantly- picking a giant water bug from his denim shirt. "I'm afraid you're gonna have to get down in the well."
" Huh?' I laughed nervously, "I must not have heard you right. I thought you said get in the well."
Darn it! I knew I should have been at the mall buying shoes! But instead, I found myself in the bowels of a brick well, as dark as the darkest night and as horrendous as any episode of Friday the Thirteenth.
Back then we didn't own the Louisville Fiberglass 12 foot OSHA Approved Safety Extension Ladder. We owned this:
If you've never been in a well -(how many of us can say that?)- then you must realize I had to take a least five steps down in order to access the pipe/valve/flow thing that I was supposed to observe.
And the ladder- (which I swore had been crafted by some blind pioneer in the days of Daniel Boone)- was positioned precariously on a tiny brick rim that straddled the depths of black water -whose bottom was obviously unfathomable.
I was coaxed into this abyss and left to shiver there in my brick tomb while my husband went back into the basement to perform magic on the pump. (And I was left to contemplate my new dislike for cake.)
I've never felt so lonely in my life- as though that big sky above my head was falling in...that I was being squeezed into the mouth of a clammy, dewy, watery chasm...that life would never be the same again.
Especially if those dangerously thin, Popsicle-stick rungs gave way and I was plunged forever into a murky whirlpool of death.
All of a sudden the pipe I was focusing on sprouted water -and soon I felt my husband's shadow above me like a lifesaver of safety.
He smiled down at me and assured me that the pump was fixed, the plumbing was working once again, and my death-defying balancing act inside the well had come to an end.
One would think that I learned my lesson that day.
But I didn't.
There were many, many more occasions when "piece of cake" came out of my husband's vocabulary...
and I caved like a sand castle in a tsunami.
Yes, I once again accepted a piece of cake project and bravely faced death...