Friday, November 11, 2016

Noticeable November: Squashed Cupcake

Did you write anything for Noticeable November? If you did, keep it up. Share it, if you'd like. Did you discover anything?  

The following piece contains more abstract details. I made some far-reaching connections and I'm interested to know if they make sense. 

Squashed Cupcake
Jennifer E. Miller

As a little girl, I remember wanting a certain kind of dress. Not a style or color, but the way the dress performed. It needed to twirl when I spun around. Watching other girls in fancy dresses, they would pirouette on their tip toes. Their dress would float around their body like a graceful dancer. When they stopped spinning, their dress would continue wrapping around their bodies until gravity and momentum forced it stop. The dresses were always glittery and flowy, with just enough puff netting on an under layer to add elegance without bulk. I noticed how the girls with these dresses walked proudly or skipped enthusiastically, the skirt portion bouncing with each step. They were excited to wear such a fancy gown. And they enjoyed their dress's performance as much as I envied it.

New holiday attire was a usual thing for my family. When I would hone in on a "performance" dress at the store, I was quickly shot down. Too expensive. Too glittery. It doesn't match any of my shoes. You'll only wear it once. But what I could never get across to the purchasing powers that be, is that if I got to wear a dress like that, it was like wearing a recital costume or a prom dress. Even if only worn once, it was going to create fantasies. I could twirl into a fairy maiden with magical powers. Or finally know what it was like to feel a dress come alive. I wanted to know that feeling I saw in other lucky girls who got to spin their way to their church pew. Or in line for Santa and pirouetting their way out of boredom while they waited.

In fourth grade, I finally got my twirl dress. It was soft green velvet on top with long sleeves and a tiny matching bow that rested on the neckline. The skirt was white sheer fabric, gathered at the waist, with a ruffle at the bottom and satin trim. Puffy netting was sewn in, giving my dress that perfect conical fluff. It wasn't glittery or overly showy. It was simple yet elegant. And it twirled! I couldn't wait to get home, throw it on, and spin on my tippy toes. I spun so much it's surprising I didn't wear a hole in the carpet. I felt so beautiful and different in it. Different in a good way. I imagined myself as that maiden fairy twirling, hopping, and flying around with magical pixie dust to make everything merry. When I wore that dress, everything was more lovely. The snow outside looked fluffier, whiter, and brighter. The holiday music was more jolly. Waiting for Santa's presents on Christmas morning didn't seem so far away anymore. I finally understood why those other girls smiled constantly at themselves while doting their fanciest dresses. They felt good; so everything around them felt good, too.

Fast forward a few decades and I have my own daughter who has eyes for fancy things, too. She has a twirly dress she loves to wear. It's sleeveless with white cotton lace on the top half. An empire cut waist gives way to a pleated bright pink skirt. The netting trim underneath is curled which gives the dress a unique shape when she spins. Instead of the entire edges twirling away from her in a straight line, the bottom six inches fold downward. When she spins, she looks like a delicious cupcake. A pink cupcake liner with vanilla frosting. A headband or bow represents a cherry on top. She has the same giddy look on her face as she dances and pirouettes, absorbing all the happiness in life at that very moment. I want to bottle up that innocence. Freeze it in time and release it upon a grim moment.

One day, she got her feelings hurt by a older kid. While passing out Halloween candy, a teenage boy grabbed a handful instead of one piece like she instructed. The incident made her cry because she didn't know what to do. He was bigger than her and she felt so...small. What I saw was a squashed cupcake. All the goodness and love and magic she harnessed from twirling in that dress had been knocked down and stepped on.

It took a few days for the pain to wear off but she managed to bake another cupcake with the help of some pixie dust I loaned her. I'm glad. A baker's dozen is actually thirteen. So when one doesn't come out right, or is dropped--or squashed--the remaining twelve stand; baked with love.

Copyrighted 2016 by Jennifer E. Miller

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