Friday, February 6, 2009

Sammy Eats Birthday Cake & Candles

In the school year 1946/1947 there were seven of us in the first grade, and seven birthday parties. We all went to every party. After the flurry of coats off, ribbons yanked, tissue ripped, a mother would call us to the dining room table and we would sit and wait for the cake. At my house (as at everyone's house), Mummy dressed the table in printed paper that reached almost to the floor, and set each place with a favor, a fork, a milk glass and a pull cracker. We vibrated, we jiggled, and a fleet of mothers stood just offshore.
  Then the cake was carried in, with six or seven candles lit, while we sang Happy Birthday. (At our house, the cake was placed on a windup music box that plays the song.) The birthday child blew out the candles, a mother plucked them from the frosting and laid them on the table, and one boy, it was Sammy, collected them in his fist and retreated under the table to eat the colorful little twists of wax. In those days, wasn't candlewax as edible as gobs of white paste?

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