I've cut some pretty fantastic cakes in my years of working banquets. The quinceaneras were probably the most elaborate ones, with fountains and trellises, and often 15 separate layers. Wedding cakes were usually four tiers with a groom's cake on the side. I never worked for a hotel that offered formal cakes, so they were always set up by third parties, with varying results. Sometimes, it would strike terror in your heart just to walk past the cake table, when it was visibly tilting or rocking with the slightest movement. There were other issues to contend with as well, like under-baked cakes that began to slide or sink as they thawed, or cakes delivered by people who didn't know how to set them up.
Until I started cutting cakes, I never realized how many different ways there are to construct one. I've seen forms made from plywood and bolts and huge ceramic bases, to Styrofoam and plastic. Very large cakes also usually have several wooden dowels in them that (hopefully) the guests never know about. As unnerving as it could be to even approach some of the towers of cake at these events - let alone take them apart and cut them - it was one of my favorite parts of the job. The cutting of the cake is one of the most important ceremonies and I liked having that responsibility. I wish now I'd taken pictures of some of them.
The worst cake story I know of isn't (thank God) my own. I knew a waiter who knocked the top of a wedding cake onto the bride's lap. I never worked an event where the cake was set up at the head table, but I know that, depending on the bride, the bride's mother and the caterer, a cake is liable to be set up just about anyplace if the banquet manager or banquet captain aren't around to guide things. I did work for another captain at an event where the cake fell, and the hotel ended up paying for it (which meant we gave up part of our gratuity with it). When I became captain, I didn't take any chances. I stuffed wedges of cardboard under layers, and propped up sagging frosting with floral arrangements ... whatever I could do to make that cake live till the cutting.
I enjoyed the responsibility, but it's ironic that I spent so much of my life making everything just right for straight couples at their wedding receptions, considering it's not even legal for me to get married. I wonder if any of the couples think about that double standard when they're meeting with their dress designer, florist, hair stylist, wedding planner, baker, photographer, caterer or waiters, when likely several of those professionals are gay? A while back, I wrote a little piece about "The Gays" and their usefulness. I posted it to Facebook a few months later, and I'm reviving it again, here. I hope you like it.
There are so many ways that having a gay friend can validate your straight life-style, not to mention support it. How many times in my day do I perform simple little gay things that nobody is even aware of? There must be millions of them . . .
The Gays contribute so much more than just that lively piece of window dressing that you can take to the bathroom with you because he's "just one of the girls." And If The Gays didn't get to do all of the things that they are so good at, it would be the end of weddings for straight people (At least weddings that anyone wanted to go to.) Think about it: wedding planner, cake, flowers, dress, hair and makeup, decorations, catered food, wait staff, and best man (who is just a little too close to the groom for the bride's comfort) would all go out the window. A justice of the peace and a quick pass by a Wendy's drive-thru would be about all you'd get.
And it's not just weddings. The Gays practically invented Bette Midler and she is the Number One Choice for recorded music at funerals. Think about it: "The Rose?" Nope. "Wind Beneath My Wings?" Probably not. The original Gary Morris version doesn't have any of those "fly, fly fly" things at the end. Funerals would be over in 10 minutes leaving the bereaved alone in a room full of tuna noodle casserole and bundt cake wondering why the Irish Tenor didn't show up for the wake.
So what if you have a gay friend? What do you do now? Is he going to make you all gay-like and expect you to talk gay-talk? Will he make fun of your shoes? Will he go shopping with you and help you decide if that episode of Law and Order that has a gay person in it is just as The Gays see it, live it and breathe it every day? Is he gay enough? Too gay? Can you take him anywhere and "no one would ever know?"
Well, there isn't just one brand, girlfriend. You've got to pick The Gay that is right for you. And make sure he's not planning on running off to Massachusetts or anything political. Remember that this is about what The Gays contribute to mainstream society... not the other way around. They are the minority. One of the beautiful things about a democracy is that 90% of the population can vote to dictate the rights, social mores, intimate expressions and living arrangements of the other 10% of the population and there's not a damned thing they can do about it.
Or is there?