Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Cyndie’s Story

with 8 comments

Two weeks ago, I wrote about us attending a Moth story slam in advance of Cyndie’s plan to submit her name for an opportunity to tell her wedding cake story at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall in St. Paul. For those of you who weren’t able to hear her tell it in person last night, she has allowed me to post a written version for you.

Cyndie’s name was selected tenth –the last slot, out of twenty that had signed up for the chance.

Imagine Cyndie walking up on stage, standing under the lights in front of a microphone, and addressing a packed house. She is allowed only 5 minutes…

When my niece got engaged, she asked her mother to sew her wedding dress, and her grandma to knit a shawl and asked if I would bake a simple wedding cake. Thrilled, I said yes immediately… even though I’d never made a wedding cake before. Friends expressed concern over the huge responsibility I’d taken on given my lack of experience with wedding cakes. But I love to bake and was inspired by my niece’s invitation. I embraced this cake-baking opportunity with equal measures of optimism and naiveté.

That year, I baked dozens of practice cakes to test out on family and friends. I was blamed for inches added to waistlines and my reputation for baking in excess soared to new heights. It took me about 40 hours to mold sugar paste into candied pearls and colorful, edible flowers. With all that practice, my confidence grew and so did the cake. What started as a simple wedding cake had become a five-tier, white chocolate, lemon-raspberry layered masterpiece, stuffed with extra love.

Days before the wedding, my friend asked me how I planned to transport the cakes to the venue. I’d been so focused on baking, I hadn’t given it a thought. I quickly discovered that my mustang convertible with bucket seats is NOT the car for the job. My friend bails me out by loaning me her practical 4-door sedan as long as I drive and relieve her of any responsibility for the safe delivery of the cakes. 

On the big day, I load up the car with boxes of cakes, buckets of extra frosting, edible decorations, and fresh flowers. I’m so nervous about transporting the cakes that I drive like a Sunday driver, on a Saturday! Thankfully, all the cakes arrive intact.

I carry the boxes of cakes like they are newborn babies and begin to carefully assemble the tiers of cake with the stands and pillars. I’m so meticulous about frosting and decorating each level to perfection that it takes me 2.5 hours just to finish the first four tiers. But I’m happy- already the cake is nearly 3 feet high and it looks as stunning as I’d hoped it would be.

As I reach to place the final tier, I hear a loud snap and then another one, as the pillars give way under the weight of the cake, and, in horror, I watch the cake topple over and crash onto the floor. A busboy says, “You are so [effed]” as he and the wait staff all run for cover in the kitchen. I can barely breathe but I manage to warn my friend, “DO. NOT. SAY. A THING.”  She doesn’t and takes cover behind the bar. 

I can’t believe I have just ruined my niece’s wedding day. This is exactly what my friends had warned me about. I can hear all the “I told you so’s” and the “what were you thinking’s” and see the evidence of not being enough piled high on top of the inglorious mess. I want to scream but I can’t because the only thing separating the wedding chapel from the reception hall is a thin, moveable partition.

Then the organist begins to play, “Here Comes the Bride.”  I AM SO [EFFed]!  My friend appears next to me with a shot of whiskey she’d stolen from the bar. I don’t drink whiskey, but on this day, I did.  She asked, “What are you going to do?” 

I have two choices- I can succumb to the despair of this epic fail or I have to rise up and fight with all the love in my heart to make the simple cake my niece had asked for. The fight is on. Baking in excess is now my saving grace. I have enough backup cakes. The groom’s cake is still intact and I can use fresh flowers to decorate so I kick my inner critic to the curb and ask for help. 

The busboy –yeah, that one!– comes to my aid and scoops up the four-tier disaster on the floor, a waiter brings a fresh tablecloth and my friend fearlessly rips open the boxes and hands me back-up cakes as fast as I can frost & decorate them. I have to finish Wedding Cake 2.0 by the time the ceremony ends in less than 20 minutes. 

I finish the second cake just in time to see the mother-of-the-bride walk into the reception hall, look at the cake, and, burst into tears. She says, “I didn’t cry at all during the ceremony but when I saw the cake…   It’s so beautiful.”   And it really was!

Sometimes, even I have a hard time believing the miracle that happened that day. But the radiant look on my niece’s face when she thanked me for baking her wedding cake helps me remember that anything is possible when I let love lead the way.


Out of the ten storytellers, Cyndie’s performance earned a second place score from the judges, losing out by half a point to a tale that included both a tornado and nudity. The evening was a smashing (pun intended) success and made all the sweeter by the support of family and friends who showed up to cheer her on.











Written by johnwhays

March 30, 2023 at 6:00 am

8 Responses

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  1. Oh, gosh, I was on the edge of my seat with the suspense. What a great story! Who knew you’d been training for a speed test?!?!


    March 31, 2023 at 9:26 am

    • I know! Luckily, Cyndie is well-suited for such training. 🙂


      March 31, 2023 at 1:03 pm

  2. That is SO cool! WTG Cyndie!


    March 30, 2023 at 11:15 am

  3. I love when God turns Disasters into Blessings


    March 30, 2023 at 9:57 am

  4. Hats off as ever to Cyndie!

    Ian Rowcliffe

    March 30, 2023 at 9:56 am

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