Mayonnaise in My Cake

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  • 8/14/2019 Mayonnaise in My Cake


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    Mayonnaise in My Cake i

    SummaryThe Clarksons, like most families, were a universeunto themselves. Unfathomable, but comically hostile,planets dominated the landscape.

    Those are the thoughts of The Man. He is anacademically trained, professionally experienced chefwho owns a newly opened restaurant. He teaches collegeclasses and is prominent in business and philanthropiccircles. He is a successful and respected executive.

    Except when he is with his fiance, Francessa, and herfamily, the Clarksons. During those times, hesunnamed and invisible, more an accessory for her thana separate entity. Worse, his cheffing skills aredemeaned.

    But on a challenging Thanksgiving Day with his futurein-laws, The Man creates a memorable impression whenhe insists on not putting any mayonnaise in his cake.

    Main CharactersThe Man Professional chef, restaurateur,

    and passionate about making greatfoods. Engaged to FrancessaClarkson but invisible to herfamily.

    Francessa Clarkson Happily engaged to The Man butbenignly neglects him when sheswith her family.

    Clarissa and Sharissa Francessas sisters. They areprotective of her and antagonistictoward him. Until the mayonnaise.

    Aquaphobe The hypochondriac of theClarksons. Allergic to water;cant take baths but endures


    Mr. Clarkson Commanding presence and boomingvoice. Otherwise, the patriarch ofthe Clarkson family is clueless.

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    The man asked, Are you sure this is a good idea? He

    knew that holidays were special to her family and they

    were not expecting him on Thanksgiving Day. The woman,

    Francessa Clarkson, assured him that she would be with

    him the entire evening. Besides, she said, Everyone

    wants to hear about your new restaurant.

    Thats what Im afraid of, he said. His great joy

    was cooking. From soups to grilled lobster tails, his

    stage was the kitchen. He had 15 years of academic

    training and professional accomplishments. But when he

    was around the Clarksons, everybody became a master

    chef and ordered him around: try it this way, use a

    bigger knife, get me a smaller pot, and, the worst, we

    do it like this.

    But they were more than simply a collection of

    opinionated people. The Clarksons, like most families,

    were a universe unto themselves. Unfathomable, but

    comically hostile, planets dominated the landscape.

    And the man had not yet learned how to navigate their


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    As he stood on her parents front porch with snow

    steadily falling and holding his Kiss Me, Im the Chef

    canvas tote full of ingredients for a chocolate cake,

    he suggested running away. Dont worry, the entire

    familys going to be here. Youll blend right in, she

    reassured him. If only that could happen, he


    She rang the doorbell while he stayed in the shadows

    with his dark cocoa frosting mix. When the door

    opened, her sisters shrieked with approval, Frankie!

    The first sister, Clarissa, breathlessly shared that


    neither-do-I. The second sister, Sharissa, matched the

    others velocity by saying I-told-her-not-to-do-that-


    Francessa revved her verbal engine and announced I-



    of-all-the-people-I-work-with-and-I-was-mortified. She

    bolted between Clarissa and Sharissa, whirled them

    back into the house, and closed the door.

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    The snow continued to fall and he thought of hiding in

    the car. Thirty seconds later, the door re-opened. She

    stepped out and pulled him into the house.

    Francessa announced a Happy Thanksgiving and heres

    the world famous chef to the living room full of

    brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and second

    cousins. The reception was as indifferent as the snow

    falling outside. They walked in a twisted and jagged

    path around Clarksons straining to watch a sporting

    event on the large screen television.

    Behind them were her spouseless sisters. I thought

    only family was coming, Clarissa whispered.

    Francessa says shes really comfortable with him,

    added Sharissa. They laughed. You know what that

    means, continued Sharissa. Sure, added Clarissa.

    High school math class and lets be friends. They

    laughed more.

    In front of them, and presumably out of earshot, the

    man cringed at being called comfortable.

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    ~ ~

    All four walked into the great clatter of the kitchen.

    It contained more people than the living room but in a

    smaller space. Dozens of conversations splashed on top

    of each other. Sports were a favorite subject and a

    few of them were talking about running and catching.

    The man drifted away from Francessa and, wanting to

    blend in, asked how their baseball teams were doing.

    Its football season, they replied. He excused

    himself from further conversation.

    A few hearty and sturdy Clarksons were discussing the

    nearby mountains, fresh air, and exhilaration of being

    outdoors. The man steeled himself for another attempt

    at blending in and asked the group if they had been

    hiking lately. Nearly in unison they answered, On our

    bad knees? The man called for Francessa to slow down.

    At the very middle of the kitchen, more Clarksons were

    preparing appetizers, salads, and main dishes. Every

    course of the meal was being prepared except one.

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    Were here to make the dessert, Francessa declared.

    Actually, Im just here to help the chef. She turned

    the stage over to her fianc and joined her sisters.

    The man unpacked the ingredients fine Belgian

    chocolate powder, Louisiana cane sugar, French vanilla

    extract, and exotic spices and flavors from around the

    world. From behind him, a Clarkson commented that the

    heat of the kitchen was withering. The man offered a

    glass of water and the future in-law shrieked in

    agony, Im allergic to water. The slightest taste and

    my whole face swells up.

    All conversations stopped and everyone looked at the

    chef. Trying for a third time to blend in, he said

    that bathing without water must be a challenge. Not

    at all. I take lots of showers, said Aquaphobe in a

    calm and pleasant demeanor. The chef was grateful for

    conversation with Francessa, even if her sisters were

    part of the package.

    So, what great culinary treat are you creating?

    asked Clarissa. Is it a cake mix in a box? asked

    Sharissa. He only makes desserts from scratch, with

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    the finest ingredients from the best stores, and

    recipes handed down through his family, bragged


    The man agreed and said it was the first recipe he had

    made in his new restaurant. Also, his family added a

    secret ingredient in 1872.

    Eighteen Seventy-Twos an interesting name for a

    restaurant, said Aquaphobe holding a mug of eggnog.

    Francessas fianc responded 1872 was the year his

    great-great-so-many-greats he couldnt remember which

    grandmother in Ohio wrote down the recipe with the

    secret ingredient. His restaurant was named La


    So your family opened La Eaterie in 1872? asked


    The fianc leaned forward and, with a pained

    expression out of the sight of the questioner but

    clearly in Francessas view, silently begged for

    assistance. She shrugged her shoulders and offered

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    nothing. Finally, to get rid of Aquaphobe, he agreed

    that the restaurant was opened in 1872.

    Thats impressive. Im going to watch the game but

    call me when its ready, said Aquaphobe and wandered

    into the living room.

    The chocolate cake ingredients were spread on a

    counter top and the man began cheffing. As he mixed

    and stirred, Francessa and her sisters gravitated

    toward him. They did not offer to help; rather, they

    volunteered comments.

    Shouldnt you use more cocoa? asked Francessa. The

    ovens too hot, said Clarissa. The recipe seems

    familiar, was Sharissas insight. He continued

    cheffing and did not respond.

    It needs more sugar, said Francessa. Ill turn down

    the oven, said Clarissa. Aunt Tillie makes her cakes

    like this, said Sharissa. The man assured them,

    through a pained smile, that the amount of sugar was

    fine, he wanted the oven set to 375, and that his

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    recipe was completely different from their Aunt


    Its Tillie, Aunt Tillie, and I dont see any

    peppermint, either, continued Francessa. I dont use

    peppermint he said while straining not to roll his

    eyes. Maybe the oven should be hotter, insisted

    Charissa. The ovens fine he said through gritted

    teeth. Its missing mayonnaise, said Sharissa.

    He snapped and roared a no, no, no, enough already, NO

    to Sharissa that his cake could not, should not, and

    would not have any mayonnaise.

    Its in the refrigerator, offered Aquaphobe, back in

    the kitchen for more eggnog. The man was stumped and

    asked what was in the refrigerator. The mayonnaise,

    of course.

    The man spun around and glared at Francessa and began

    collecting the ingredients and mixing bowls. He knew

    that he shouldnt have come and was taking his

    ingredients to make the cake his way in his apartment.

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    You mean the apartment well live in after were

    married? Francessa corrected him. He yelled back that

    at this rate it would only ever be his apartment. She

    rocked backwards ever so slightly. From the back,

    Clarissa and Sharissa chimed in with a duet of, It

    will only ever be his apartment and barely muffled

    their snickering.

    Clarissa continued her sniping and said, Youre

    acting a bit harshly. The man told her it was his

    recipe and hed respond any way he wanted to.

    Sharissa walked forward and spoke, Youre hiding

    something. The man feared she would guess he was

    hiding an intense desire to pour the batter on her

    head and that he really didnt want to be there.

    They worked their separate ways through the Clarksons

    and he felt increasingly uncomfortable. They were

    breaking through the inner circle and only a few feet

    away. Two more steps and theyd be directly in front

    of him. Zero moment arrived.

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    It seems to me that you dont want us to know the

    secret ingredient in your great-great-whatever

    grandmothers recipe from Ohio, Clarissa guessed.

    Every Clarkson leaned forward to revel in discovering

    his secret. We know what it is, Sharissa said.

    He lowered his eyes, hung his head, and spoke with a

    small voice. He said it was worse than that and the

    Clarksons inched closer. He had mayophobia, a rare,

    genetic condition. They backed away from him.

    What is mayophobia? An allergy to the county in

    Ireland or the fifth month on the calendar? someone

    asked. Its not that kind of reaction said the man.

    Are you allergic to Maypoles or May Days? asked

    another. No he said. How about May apples, May

    beetles, or mayhem, asked a third. None of those he

    said. He was enjoying their collective cluelessness.

    How about April showers? came from a familiar and

    irritating questioner. It was Aquaphobe. Again the man

    was stumped and admitted he didnt understand. April

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    showers bring May flowers, was the explanation.

    Silently, he detested Aquaphobe.

    Yet another asked, How about May queens, May trees,

    May weeds, or May wines? No, no, no, no, and NO he

    said. Then what? they all asked in varying ways.

    After a dramatically lengthened pause, he confessed he

    was allergic to mayonnaise.

    So you dont like the taste of mayonnaise, said one

    voice. Its more than that was his response. He had

    bad reactions to it. Then youre allergic to eggs.

    Lots of people are, said another. He was fine with

    eggs but reacted to mayonnaise.

    There was a general chorus of doubt over mayophobia,

    what it meant, and whether the man was making up the

    whole story. After a few more minutes of verbal

    skirmishing, he continued collecting his cheffing gear

    to leave.

    Nobody had ever left a Clarkson party early and

    Francessa asked where he was going. Home to bake the

    cake was his response. A chorus rose and bade the man

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    to stay. He continued packing up his canvas tote with

    the ingredients and accoutrements.

    When the last speck of powdered Belgian chocolate had

    been wiped from the counter, he grabbed his Kiss Me,

    Im the Chef tote and turned around to leave. There

    stood Francessas father.

    I hear the familys kind of burnt your cocoa beans,

    he said. The chef concurred and Mr. Clarkson

    continued, Why not let Francessa and her sisters

    finish the cake and we watch the game?

    Clarissa and Sharissa immediately protested. Why

    should we do his work? whined Clarissa. Hes the

    chef, complained Sharissa. But Mr. Clarkson cut them

    off, This mans about to join our family and its

    time you two gave him the same respect as everyone


    The man asked if he might get a bit more respect than

    they gave the others to compensate for their previous

    antagonisms. Mr. Clarkson agreed and he snapped a curt

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    Are we clear, ladies? at his daughters. He got back

    a sullen duet of Yes, father.

    Mr. Clarkson turned toward Francessas fianc and

    asked, Now, how about that game? The man agreed but

    only if they follow the recipe. Francessa agreed. Mr.

    Clarkson draped his arm around the chefs shoulders

    and led him towards the living room. As they

    disappeared into the sea of sports viewers, the chef

    asked what they were going to watch and Mr. Clarkson

    answered, Theres a lot of running and catching. I

    think its baseball.

    ~ ~

    Back in the kitchen, Francessa coordinated the cake-

    making endeavor. Most of the ingredients had been

    mixed and it was nearly ready to bake. She cautioned

    her sisters to follow the recipe as promised. They

    were incredulous. Youre not doing what he said, are

    you? demanded Sharissa. Hes not even family, piled

    on Clarissa.

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    Allow me to remind you, began Francessa, That in

    three months he will be a member of the family.

    Further, I promised we would follow the recipe.

    Just then Mr. Clarkson re-entered the kitchen looking

    for Francessa. Your husband-to-be, he said, Has

    requested the honor of toasting you, your mother, and

    me. Wont you join us for champagne? As she walked

    with her father, Francessa turned and mouthed three

    words to her sisters, Follow the recipe.

    The two sisters simmered with resentment. He cant

    tell her what to do. Hes not one of us, whined

    Clarissa. Sharissa joined in, We have recipes, too.

    Aunt Tillies recipe is just as good as his great-

    great-great-whatever grandmothers.

    Clarissa turned to her sister and said, Youre

    brilliant. Sharissa admitted she knew that and

    enjoyed hearing the compliment, but wondered what

    specifically shed been brilliant about.

    Aunt Tillies recipe for chocolate cake, said

    Clarissa and the lights went on inside her sisters

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    head. Plus, added Sharissa, He didnt say which

    recipe to follow. And, they looked at each other,

    Its got mayonnaise.

    A quarter cup should do the trick, said Clarissa.

    He deserves a bigger welcome than that. Make it a

    whole cup, insisted Sharissa. They stirred in the

    toxic mayonnaise and slid the potion into the oven.

    ~ ~

    Dinner started with an invocation by a Clarkson whose

    sole qualification for the task was his neighbors

    brother studied at seminary. After that, the meal was

    a polished affair of salad, appetizer, and main

    course. Everything was perfectly prepared, perfectly

    presented, and pleasantly conversed. The meal

    progressed towards dessert. From opposite sides of the

    table, Clarissa and Sharissa shot each other knowing

    glances. When the time came for the chocolate cake,

    they volunteered to present the chefs great creation.

    With tremendous flourish, they sliced the cake for the

    assembled diners. With insincere deference, they

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    insisted the chef have the first taste. With great

    flair, the chef, wielding a dessert fork, pulled off a

    delicately sized portion, and toasted his great-great-

    so-many-greats grandmother from Ohio and her secret

    ingredient. He placed the morsel in his mouth and

    allowed the flavor to melt.

    Thirty seconds later, he looked at Francessa with wide

    eyes, grabbed at his throat, and collapsed. Bedlam


    The Clarksons sprang into convoluted lunacy. Clarissa

    cried that they never would have put in mayonnaise if

    they knew this would happen. Sharissa screamed into

    the phone for the Mayonnaise Antidote Hotline. The

    Aquaphobe lined up glasses of water for the man and

    accidentally drank one. Another Clarkson, the one

    whose neighbors brother studied at seminary, began

    offering last rites. Everyone cut him off immediately.

    Meanwhile, the man was laying on his back mumbling.

    Only Francessa saw his mouth moving. She bent lower

    and heard him say, Get us out of here.

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    Her head snapped back and she looked around to see if

    anyone else had heard him. She bent over, asked him to

    say it again, and he repeated, Do anything. Say

    anything. Just get us out of here.

    One Clarkson saw his lips moving and called the others

    around. They huddled around him four and five deep and

    none of them knew what to do. His faint voice rose up

    from the floor, Home.

    One of them shouted that he said foam. Another

    insisted the man had said scone. The one whose

    neighbors brother studied at seminary was certain the

    man had said Rome, which proved all along that last

    rites were needed.

    Once again, this time with the slightest trace of

    convulsing laughter creeping into his voice, the man

    offered his single word plea, Home. He compounded it

    with unspoken emphasis and, out of the sight of the

    others, kicked Francessa.

    She stood and took charge of the situation. She

    drafted two family members to help the man up and

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    ordered Clarissa and Sharissa to gather up his

    cheffing accessories. Despite the familys protests,

    Francessa led the rescuee and rescuers out to his car.

    They placed him in the back seat, propped him up in a

    corner, and he spoke feebly, Frankie, are Clarissa

    and Sharissa here? She acknowledged they were. He

    continued, Tell them what they mean to me. The two

    sisters wept openly and they had to be pulled from the


    Francessa drove away through the squalling snowstorm

    with squealing tires. Her sisters, still shaking with

    sobs and needing support from other family members,

    faded into the distance.

    ~ ~

    The ride home was a bouncing, jarring affair and

    Francessa monitored the mans condition through the

    rearview mirror. With each turn, she watched him slide

    lower in the back seat. After the first turn, she saw

    his shoulders, neck, and head. After the second turn,

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    only his head. And after the third, he was gone from


    She yelled his name several times but he said nothing.

    The silence pushed her to drive faster and more

    recklessly. After one frantic stretch of driving, she

    heard the faint, weak voice of the man say, Family.

    Francessa dared not stop but she desperately sought to

    keep him talking. What about her family was the man


    Tonight, caused this, family did, he struggled with

    the words. Family, he repeated. Francessa spoke as

    fast as she drove. She knew her family had been rough

    on him. The man labored finding the strength to speak

    again, Father said, burnt cocoa beans. He coughed to

    cover up the laughter that shook his body.

    The woman admitted her sisters were beyond her

    control. The man agreed and added, Just let me out

    here. Francessa stopped the car and argued that her

    aquaphobic relative was a terror to everyone. Carry,

    chef, tote, said the man.

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    She helped him out of the car, slung his Kiss Me, Im

    the Chef tote over her shoulder, and insisted he go

    straight to bed. She then proclaimed she would watch

    over him throughout the night. No, he said in a firm

    voice. You should go back to your family. Its

    Thanksgiving Day. Be thankful for what you have.

    They were nearly in the building when she claimed that

    her family would understand if she stayed to take care

    of him, but he refused. Maybe, some other, time, if,

    if I, he said and left his sentence unfinished for


    She staggered back from the implication and asked how

    he would get better. He smiled weakly and said, If it

    is meant to be, then it will happen. He thanked her

    for being so comfortable. She protested that his

    mayophobia was making him say crazy things.

    He was nearly in the apartment building and she was

    behind him. The woman repeated that he was gravely

    sick and might not make it through the night.

    Hysterical laughter flowed heavily from the man and

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    his body convulsed. He gasped, The only death was a

    perfectly lovely Thanksgiving Day.

    The door closed between them. Francessa called to him

    through the door and said his mayophobia was clouding

    his mind. She knew he was reacting to the mayonnaise

    her sisters had put in his chocolate cake. Silence.

    She began to panic and called to him again. She heard

    his wheezing, rolling cough. With a loud sustained

    voice, she insisted on helping him recover.

    With an equally loud and sustained voice, he yelled

    back to her, There is no such thing as mayophobia.

    Good night, Happy Thanksgiving, and Ill see you


    The End