Monday, December 21, 2009

Sprinkle Me with Sprinkles

My lips embrace a gooey, generously proportioned black-and-white-flavored cupcake from Sprinkles, and they shudder, surprised, before forming a childish grin. My taste buds break into a foxtrot across my tongue; they’ve been good all year, and – Hallelujah! – it has finally paid off. My arteries solidify in displeasure.

Me? I’ve died and gone to Heaven. I raise my face toward the glittering cobalt sky with every silky bite, every swallow, and my eyeballs may or may not be rolled back in my head. I lie around in the clouds, like a Care Bear. My five senses have merged, so all I can see, hear, smell and feel is Belgian dark chocolate cake beneath creamy vanilla frosting. How must I look to passersby?

And then I remember: I’m not in Heaven. I’m alive and healthy despite my newly hardened arteries. Struggling against the mascara-coated lashes that have intertwined cunningly on my top and bottom lids, I open my eyes and let them adjust to the muted lounge while I savor another mouthful.

Turns out I’m quite far from Heaven. I’m at work, drooped in my swivel chair while a congested group of Asian day-trippers walks through the lounge and past my desk, snapping photos and taking videos. The sales agent shouts over the group’s chatter in Mandarin, like she’s playing the role of a tour guide at Universal Studios. Which would make me a prop on the set.

Damp crumbs are scattered across my suit. I wipe them from my skirt and chin. One of the tourists breaks away from the cluster and comes toward me, excited. I can feel the chocolate between my teeth. There's no way to remove it (without looking like a cow) by the time she reaches me, so I do the first thing that comes to mind: I smile big, hoping for a reaction.

“What is this space, here? Can we use it for a party?” she asks, not seeming to notice the smears of black foodstuff that encrust my chops. I smile wider. She looks around, bright-eyed and giddy at the thought of living in a place like this. And then she sees my teeth, which are right there, out in the open, in a stupid grin as wide as a gorilla’s. She’s appalled, I’m sure. I laugh to myself, a bit embarrassed, wondering what to do next.

My new theory? Cupcakes bring out the children in people.

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