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  • Photo of a slice of cake

The High Road Takes the Cake

She came across the street carrying a big cake. Something seemed out of place. No one had been in the hospital and no one had died, but to my brothers and I - casserole/cake-giving etiquette be darned - it was a cake and we did not need a reason why. My mother was a bit suspicious. When the Baileys moved into the neighborhood earlier in the year, we had not gotten off to the best start.  It seems our German shepherds were peeing on their bushes and harassing their elderly bird dog. I wish I could say that was all the two were guilty of, but our dogs’ rap sheet extended well beyond our tiny subdivision.

All dogs are loyal, but German shepherds are always checking their options. Ours had a tendency to collect “toys” - large objects they could hold in their mouths and drag into our front yard. These included but were not limited to: 9-foot pine branches, the hind leg of a deer, Barbie dolls and about a dozen deflated footballs. I still to this day wonder who is missing a yellow croquet mallet. They also liked to chase cows and roll in stinky things. By birth, they both were supposed to have white fur, but their everyday color was Georgia clay red and dead possum.

Still, there was Mrs. Bailey standing in our doorway extending an olive branch with pink frosting on it. She said she was just thinking of us and wanted to do something nice. Mom graciously accepted the cake and promised to return the plate as soon as we were done with it. Perhaps this was a new beginning for both families. 

Ms. Bailey was still walking down our driveway back to her house when we cut the cake. We could not wait to get a piece.

It was .... terrible. It was not stale, but it had no taste. It was as if it were made with no butter or sugar or eggs.  Even the icing was bad. Mrs. Bailey’s intentions were good, and that’s all that really matters, right?

The next morning, the cake was still sitting in the middle of the kitchen table, three-quarters intact since the prior day’s attempt at consumption.

My mother told me to throw it away as I was on my way out the door for school.  I figured it was better not to waste the cake and slid it into one of the dog’s big aluminum food bowls instead. They would eat it, I had seen them eat worse.

I had not given the cake a second thought until I was coming home after school.  As I approached the end of our street and getting near our driveway, I noticed a strange, shiny object in the middle of the Baileys’ front yard. It was the big aluminum bowl with the pink cake still in it - untouched. Even our dogs were not having anything to do with this cake.  Both the Bailey’s cars were in the driveway. They were home. They had seen the bowl as well.  It took me 10 minutes to get up the nerve to run across the street and retrieve the bowl with the cake. I just knew Mrs. Bailey’s front door was going to fly open about the time I stepped foot in her yard.

I am glad she took the high road.

I’m still leery of pink cake, though.

Mark Smith Jr., 1965 – 2019, was the Executive Editor of Lakelife magazine and a Vice President of Smith Communications, Inc. The winner of the 2018 Joe Parham Trophy, 1st Place for Humor Column in the Georgia Press Association, Mark’s humor columns appeared in each edition of Lakelife in 2019 and were popular with our readers. This is one of his earlier articles, which appeared two years ago in the Lake Oconee News newspaper.

Memorial to Mark Smith, Jr.