In my old work area, we had a King Cake tradition for Mardi Gras. It’s my understanding (not being from Louisiana, I’ve had to learn these things) that traditionally whoever finds the baby in the cake should expect good luck. In our tradition, whoever finds the baby is required to provide the cake the next year. Needless to say, this makes us reluctant to be the baby finder.
The old work area was comprised of a group of people working on the same project for the same supervisor… and me. There used to be a couple of other strays but as our work dried up, they moved on, leaving me as the lone misfit. Sometimes, like with the King Cake, I was fully accepted. Other times, not as much. The people are excellent but tend towards exclusion and cliquish behavior.
We moved en masse to a new work area last summer. We were joined by all the people from my group as well as another group and a new handful of strays. I hadn’t considered how that would affect our King Cake tradition. The stuckee from last year, however, came up with a solution that allowed them to be both inclusive and exclusive. He brought two cakes.
One cake, which will be heretofore referred to as the “public cake,” was placed on the unofficial food table near the front door with a sign instructing people that whoever found the baby was responsible for providing next year’s cake. The other, heretofore referred to as the “private cake,” was placed in a gentleman’s office in the back of the work area. An email was sent to the group… plus me… informing us of the private cake location.
Unaware of the public cake, I hurried to the back to get a piece of cake. I was the first person to arrive. I looked at the pristine cake and mused to the office occupant, Craig, about what happens if you actually hit the baby with the knife.
“Do you get to choose which side of the knife you push the baby?” I wondered. I wasn’t too concerned. I’d been eating King Cake for years without ever finding the baby.
I completed the first cut and gauged how much cake I wanted. I started the second cut and when I was almost to the outside edge of the cake, I hit something. At first, I thought it was the edge of the pan, but it wasn’t. I was attempting to sever the baby in half.
I glanced up at Craig, who suggested I “take one for the team”.
“Ok,” I said. “I’ll take the baby but don’t tell anyone yet. They need to feel the tension of wondering where it is. They can’t know that it was found in the first piece.”
I soon became aware of the public cake and noticed at one point that someone had found the baby and left it sitting in the pan. Someone told me who had done it and I figured he hadn’t seen the sign and wasn’t likely to participate. That won’t do, I thought. So I lifted the edge of the cake, slit the underside, and re-hid the baby.
I had grand plans to check the private cake periodically and when over half of it had been consumed, place the baby on my cubicle wall with all my other toys and see how long it took someone to notice.
But I got busy and never checked the cake. Eventually, the Baby Posse was out, trying to identify who had the baby. They knew it had been found. When confronted, I confessed.
Soon, a meeting reminder for Mardi Gras 2015 was sent out with an announcement that I would be responsible for providing the cake. One of the guys immediately responded, “Great! Now I can go get a piece of cake!”
I didn’t see him pass my cubicle, on his way to the wrong cake. I saw him on his return, though. That’s because he leaned into my cube, dangling a baby from his fingers. He looked confused.
“Were there two babies in the cake?” he asked.
“I don’t think so.”
“So you re-hid it? Only the first person to find the baby has to buy the cake next year. Right?”
Smiling, I asked, “Which cake did you find the baby in?”
“What do you mean ‘which cake’? There’s two?”
“Yes. The group cake that I found the baby in is in Craig’s office.”
“I didn’t know that!”
“Yes you did,” I responded, showing him the email that he had received that morning. “Guess you are buying a cake next year after all, huh?”
“Guess I deserved that after being such a smart ass.”
I smiled and deliberately chose not to tell him that I actually had re-hid that particular baby. Several of the other folks agreed. It was more fun this way.