Those were my penultimate words in the cell phone conversation I had with my wife moments before I got out of my car with the birthday cake she had finely crafted for a fellow lab member.
The cake was a culinary sensation. It was bi-layered and chocolate, stuffed with a vanilla-pudding-based banana cream filling, topped with delectable icing, and drizzled with chocolate fudge. A sight to behold, painstakingly assembled with meticulous attention to every last excruciating detail.
The night before, she had spent literally hours preparing and putting the finishing touches on the dessert. Opting against a standard Tupperware-style container for cake transport, she carefully packaged it within an optimally sized special cake box to prevent accidental contact with container edges, preserving detail along the confection’s perimeter.
I typically park about half mile from the lab. “Couldn’t you park any closer?” she had asked, fearing the distance was too great a span she could expect me to traverse without incident.
“Not unless I pay ten dollars. Relax, I’ll be careful.”
As I turned into the parking lot this morning, cake in tow, my cell phone rang. It was her. She wished to remind to me exercise extreme caution when transporting the precious cargo from door to door.
“Be careful,” she repeated. “You never know when a little mouse will trip you up and send you to the ground.”
“Ha,” I laughed, insulted by her doubt in my agility and coordination. I then uttered the dooming words at the title of this post and bid her goodbye.
Amused and slightly irked by her skepticism, I carefully gathered my belongings and the chocolate delight. Through the parking lot, down the steps of the garage, around the corner, I walked, gingerly, even daintily, watchful for curbs, mice, and distractions of all varieties. “Left, right, left, right,” I uttered to myself, concentrating alternately on the forward motions of each foot.
I must have been thinking about the wrong foot, or maybe it was a tiny mouse that scurried around my feet outside of my peripheral vision, because all of a sudden, I know not how it began, but I was falling— no, hurtling— forward. The pavement-aimed descent seemed to occur in slow motion. One thing was certain, though: I was not going to release my grip on the cake box. I began to lift the box (lovingly marked “this side up” to preempt careless transport or placement) over my head to prevent it from crashing to ground in front of me when—crunch—an intense pain exploded in my ankle. The rest of the plunge occurred in shaky-cam fast-forward as my limbs flailed uncontrollably and the box burst forth from my hands. It must have experienced about 2 seconds of weightless air-time before it crashed and rolled.
Before the falling object that was my person came to its final rest, my body parts strewn unnaturally in three dimensions, I realized what had was now happening: I had ruined the cake and fulfilled my own prophecy—I now had something to blog about.
For those interested in the rest of the story:
* My lab mates still happily devoured the dessert formerly known as chocolate cake. Fortunately, my ever-creative spouse, in unaccounted-for prescience, had separately packaged little signs that said: “Happy Birthday!” attached to popsicle sticks. Before serving the cakeslop, I neatly inserted them into the pudding/cake/banana amalgam.
* My ankle is sprained. I could place little weight on it after I fell. Tonight, it can bear almost none.
* Both my wife and the birthday girl forgive my misstep. Pretty hard to hold a grudge against a hobbling mess such as myself. (My wife insists: “Give us more credit. Even if you hadn’t hurt yourself, we wouldn’t have been mad.” She pauses. “Although, hurting yourself doesn’t hurt your cause.”)