Do you know cupcakes have taken over the Middle East? Humble cupcake stands and swanky little cupcake boutique stores are sprouting everywhere from Jerusalem to Dubai to Damascus. Muslims and Jews, veiled and unveiled, be-robed and be-blue jeaned — they’re all queued up for the pastel buttercream icing, the tiny flowers, the chocolate, the devil’s food, the red velvet.
It figures. Cupcakes are universal these days. For women — and I’m going out on a presumably sexist limb here, so don’t beat me with it till you chop it off — cupcakes look benign and dainty, a controlled and ladylike panacea for all that ails you. Who knows? You could be carting off a dozen of them simply to give to your neighbors or make yourself popular at a dinner party or drop off at your local fire station.
But let’s be frank. You’re probably not sharing, are you? You’re probably hauling them home and keeping them all to yourself so you can gorge behind locked doors.
I should know. Since we’ve come to New York, I’ve discovered the Magnolia Bakery, so chic and delectable that you have to wait in line forever. (Try the banana pudding, too, while you’re at it; creamy, comforting, pure heaven.) Sex in the City featured Magnolia. Michelle Obama recently dropped by with her daughters in tow. I myself was there last night, foot thumping impatiently while I waited in line to purchase three cupcakes and a banana pudding.
It was all for me, all for last night. (My husband has some kind of mysterious gene that makes him loathe most sweets.) I don’t know why I bought so much and ate it all. I wasn’t that hungry. It’s just something I do every two or three weeks when I’m lazy, bored, feeling sorry for myself. Who cares? I have no good reason. Waiting in the line, I wondered how many other women were doing the same thing I was — engaging in this shameful, semi-secret behavior, driven by some kind of hunger that was beyond the physical.
I went back to our apartment. I ate the whole damned thing(s). As usual, I felt worse and slept badly afterwards. I told myself to remember the aftermath, but knew it wouldn’t make a difference.
It’s an odd, uncomfortable thing for me to write about. I’m not overweight, I don’t do this constantly, I assume it’s probably no big deal. But I just wonder why I do it, why so many women load the carbs and sweets, what we’re looking for, why we keep doing it. I don’t sit up late at night pondering this — but I do wonder. Is it really that big a deal — or is it simply a cupcake? And why is it so fucking embarrassing?
P.S. And, by the way, it was a large banana pudding.
(Copyright 2010 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Read one of my favorite posts on don’t you dare give me that for Mother’s Day