My mom baked the most fantastic cake for my grandfather's 73rd birthday party. The cake was slathered in impossibly thick frosting and topped with an assortment of delightful creatures which my mom crafted out of mini-marshmallows and toothpicks. To a four-year-old child, it was a thing of wonder - half toy, half cake and all glorious possibility.
But my mom knew that it was extremely important to keep the cake away from me because she knew that if I was allowed even a tiny amount of sugar, not only would I become intensely hyperactive, but the entire scope of my existence would funnel down to the singular goal of obtaining and ingesting more sugar. My need for sugar would become so massive, that it would collapse in upon itself and create a vacuum into which even more sugar would be drawn until all the world had been stripped of sweetness.
So when I managed to climb onto the counter and grab a handful of cake while my mom's back was turned, an irreversible chain reaction was set into motion.
I had tasted cake and there was no going back. My tiny body had morphed into a writhing mass of pure tenacity encased in a layer of desperation. I would eat all of the cake or I would evaporate from the sheer power of my desire to eat it.
My mom had prepared the cake early in the day to get the task out of the way. She thought she was being efficient, but really she had only ensured that she would be forced to spend the whole day protecting the cake from my all-encompassing need to eat it. I followed her around doggedly, hoping that she would set the cake down - just for a moment.
My mom quickly tired of having to hold the cake out of my reach. She tried to hide the cake, but I found it almost immediately. She tried putting the cake on top of the refrigerator, but my freakish climbing abilities soon proved it to be an unsatisfactory solution.
Her next attempt at cake security involved putting the cake in the refrigerator and then placing a very heavy box in front of the refrigerator's door.
The box was far too heavy for me to move. When I discovered that I couldn't move the box, I decided that the next best strategy would be to dramatically throw my body against it until my mom was forced to move it or allow me to destroy myself.
Surprisingly, this tactic did not garner much sympathy.
I went and played with my toys, but I did not enjoy it.
I had to stay focused.
I played vengefully for the rest of the afternoon. All of my toys died horrible deaths at least once. But I never lost sight of my goal.
My mom finally came to get me. She handed me a dress and told me to put it on because we were leaving for the party soon. I put the dress on backwards just to make her life slightly more difficult.
I was herded into the car and strapped securely into my car seat. As if to taunt me, my mom placed the cake in the passenger seat, just out of my reach.
We arrived at my grandparents' house and I was immediately accosted by my doting grandmother while my mom walked away holding the cake.
I could see my mom and the cake disappearing into the hallway as I watched helplessly. I struggled against my grandmother's loving embrace, but my efforts were futile. I heard the sound of a door shutting and then a lock sliding into place. My mom had locked the cake in the back bedroom. How was I going to get to it now? I hadn't yet learned the art of lock-picking and I wasn't nearly strong enough to kick the door in. It felt as though all my life's aspirations were slipping away from me in a landslide of tragedy. How could they do this to me? How could they just sit there placidly as my reason for living slowly faded from my grasp? I couldn't take it. My little mind began to crumble.
And then, right there in my grandmother's arms, I lapsed into a full-scale psychological meltdown. My collective frustrations burst forth from my tiny body like bees from a nest that had just been pelted with a rock.
It was unanimously decided that I would need to go play outside until I was able to regain my composure and stop yelling and punching. I was banished to the patio where I stood peering dolefully through the sliding glass door, trying to look as pitiful as possible.
I knew the cake was locked securely in the bedroom, but if I could just get them to let me inside... maybe. Maybe I could find a way to get to it. After all, desperation breeds ingenuity. I could possibly build an explosive device or some sort of pulley system. I had to try. But at that point, my only real option was to manipulate their emotions so they'd pity me and willfully allow me to get closer to the cake.
When my theatrics failed to produce the desired results, I resorted to crying very loudly, right up against the glass.
I carried on in that fashion until my mom poked her head outside and, instead of taking pity on me and warmly inviting me back inside as I had hoped, told me to go play in the side yard because I was fogging up the glass and my inconsolable sobbing was upsetting my grandmother.
I trudged around to the side of the house, glaring reproachfully over my shoulder and thinking about how sorry my mom would be if I were to die out there. She'd wish she would have listened. She'd wish she had given me a piece of cake. But it would be too late.
But as I rounded the corner, the personal tragedy I was constructing in my imagination was interrupted by a sliver of hope.
Just above my head, there was a window. On the other side of that particular window was the room in which my mom had locked the cake. The window was open.
The window was covered by a screen, but my dad had shown me how to remove a screen as a preemptive safety measure in case I was trapped in a fire and he couldn't get to me and I turned out to be too stupid to figure out how to kick in a screen to escape death by burning.
I clambered up the side of the house and pushed the screen with all my strength.
It gave way, and suddenly there I was - mere feet from the cake, unimpeded by even a single obstacle.
I couldn't fully believe what had just occurred. I crept slowly - reverently - toward the cake, my body quivering with anticipation. It was mine. All mine.
I ate the entire cake. At one point, I remember becoming aware of the oppressive fullness building inside of me, but I kept eating out of a combination of spite and stubbornness. No one could tell me not to eat an entire cake - not my mom, not Santa, not God - no one. I would eat cake whenever I damn well pleased. It was my cake and everyone else could go fuck themselves.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, my mother suddenly noticed that she hadn't heard my tortured sobbing in a while.
She became concerned because it was unusual for my tantrums to stop on their own like that, so she went looking for me.
When she couldn't find me anywhere, she finally thought to unlock the bedroom door and peek inside.
And there I was.
I spent the rest of the evening in a hyperglycemic fit, alternately running around like a maniac and regurgitating the multi-colored remains of my conquest all over my grandparents' carpet. I was so miserable, but my suffering was small compared to the satisfaction I felt every time my horrible, conniving mother had to watch me retch up another rainbow of sweet, semi-digested success: this is for you, mom. This is what happens when you try to get between me and cake - I silently challenged her to try again to prevent me from obtaining something I wanted. Just once. Just to see what would happen. It didn't matter how violently ill I felt, in that moment, I was a god - the god of cake - and I was unstoppable.