They say time heals all wounds. In most cases, that's true. But some incidents will remain forever etched in one's memory. This is one of those moments...
Oh, and the names have been changed to insult the guilty; author's privilege.
The middle of December in 2010 was like any other before it; cold and hectic, but not bad. As with any season, there are a few couples who choose a winter wedding. I don't mind them. The cakes are more firm, the icing more stable in the cold then in the heat of summer, when butter tends to melt. My wife usually handles the set ups on her own, being a seasoned professional and a perfectionist in the best possible sense.
Months before during the consultation, the customer had been advised of the inherent problems with her cake design; a square, four tiered buttercream cake meant to resemble a stack of white presents.
My wife had tried to convince her not to use fabric ribbon around the tiers, as it tends to cut into sharply iced buttercream edges. And she warned the bride against the dangers of placing heavy sugar art into soft icing. But the bride insisted, and signed the contract anyway.
There's little room to dwell when operating a specialty cake shop, so my wife filed this comission in the back of her mind and moved forward onto new projects. A couple months later, the bride's order came due; no problem, we thought.
The ladies in the back kitchen made quick work of sharp icing each square tier. The design called for a slight offset, so I dowel rodded the layers accordingly. Everything about it was routine; a cake produced a hundred times before at our shop. Still, my wife dreaded the upcoming ribbon and sugar art issues.
She packed up the Cake Mobile, carefully placing each separate tier into the back of the station wagon. It was heading off to a familiar venue, not too far from the shop. No problem. My wife arrived at the Auditorium ten minutes later, ready to work her magic. She works quickly. The cake was completed in under an hour. My wife returned to the shop, and thought nothing of it— until the phone rang two hours later.
Even sitting a considerable distance away, I could still hear the unpleasant, shrill screaming on the receiver. I got up and approached my wife, who at this point looked pale. It became quite apparent that whoever was on the other line had lost it. To her credit, my wife never completely lost her composure, or handled it in anything less than a professional manner. There did come a point, however, when my wife stood up for herself. "Now ma'am, there's no need for you to be swearing at me.", she insisted. This suggestion seemed only to make matters worse, as the verbal assault escalated. I was able to make out the last barrage clearly; "...You had better get your f***ing ass here now and fix this, or I will destroy you!". Click.
As her arm dropped to her side, I could see my wife was fighting back tears. "That was the mother of the bride... she hates the cake.". Oh boy, I thought. " I'm coming with you— you're not going this alone.", I insisted. So together, we assembled every piece of cake equipment we could muster and headed over to the Auditorium.
Now having been a sidewalk artist some 20 years earlier, I was well acquainted in dealing with irate customers. I tried to reassure my wife that things would be fine, but with each word, her heart sank lower. So I quietly held her hand as we arrived.
We exchanged a glance, and exited the car. This is it...the moment of truth— stay strong , I thought. My wife was in front of me as I gathered all the equipment and trailed behind her toward the rear entrance. There is little to do in preparation for what lies beyond that door; gather up your courage, and proceed. So that's what we did.
As my wife opened the door and set foot inside the auditorium, a bony, claw-like hand seized her arm and yanked her in. "Come with me!" was all I heard as the mother of the bride dragged my wife like a child all the way down to the cake itself; like a Crazy Train. Being encumbered with arms full of equipment, I could do little to help her. Following behind Crazy Train, in tight formation, we're the husband and sister of the bride.
Author's always relish describing monsters or evil—well, now it's my turn (heh, heh...).
What can be said about Crazy Train? Well, picture an unholy amalgamation of the following characters: Cruella DeVille, Fay Dunaway's caricature of Joan Crawford from "Mommy Dearest", and a genetic fusion of Jessica Lange and Michelle Pfeiffer with a rabid chicken. Yep...horrifying, indeed.
No sooner had she released my wife from her clutches, the circling around the cake table commenced; her mouth pulled into a tight, wicked scowl with each lap. Crazy Train extended a bony finger, making certain to point out everything she perceived wrong with her daughter's cake. "Look at this!", she snapped. "Shoddy workmanship!". Her red eyes practically collided with the inside of her glasses as her rage reached its zenith.
"Calm down ma'am...we can fix this", is all my wife could offer up as Crazy Train skipped her rails repeatedly, frothing at the mouth. After calmly assessing the cake amid the chaos, I could only see a couple of minor, legitimate issues that needed to be addressed: the fabric ribbon was cutting into the sharp-iced edges of the buttercream, and some of the heavy gum paste loop bows had worked free from the much softer cake—again, issues clearly brought up at our original consultation and disregarded by the bride herself.
I glanced over at my wife, who at this point was trembling with emotion. The verbal assault against her struck a deep chord within me—I then faced off with Crazy Train to defend her honor! Snatching the original contract from a cake kit tackle box, I thrust it inches from Crazy Train's nose, forcing her undivided attention—the floor belonged to me now, and I spoke out:
"This is the concept your daughter agreed to, THIS is the final product. There is nothing wrong with your cake. It was delivered EXACTLY as ordered."
Crazy Train scarcely regarded the paperwork, instead calling the contract "shit". At this point, I realized she was beyond reason—something was seriously wrong with this woman. I took a couple steps back, plotting out my next move.
"Everything must be changed! It's all wrong! Unacceptable!!" burst forth from Crazy Train's taught, almost reptilian, spittle-crusted lip slit.
My wife chose her next words carefully, but with the integrity of a responsible adult; "No. We will only make changes to the cake if authorized to do so by the bride herself. You were not present at the signing of the contract."
Her two toadies—the husband (we'll call him Dud) and the Bride's sister (she'll go by Little Twit)—then decided to chime in.
Now Little Twit was every bit as sinister as her mother; only a younger, shorter, chubbier, slightly cross-eyed, darker haired version— but still leaping from the pages of a Grimm's fairytale. She extended a plump index finger, and did a remarkable impersonation of her mother.
" You do not speak to the mother of the bride with such disrespect! How dare you! If you had done your job properly..."
At that moment, she was interrupted by Dud, an insignificant little schlub of a man: "This cake had better be fixed, or you will be hearing from our lawyer."
Crazy Train wasted no time, the psychotic rage building in her like a volcanic crescendo: "We will destroy your business! Shoddy workmanship... unprofessional... AMATEUR!".
My wife and I both stood firm. "Oh no you won't."
Dud gently gained control of his rabid, mentally unstable spouse— without the use of a tranquilizing gun... a remarkable feat for such a loser. Little Twit did an about face as the three of them exited the hall in a tight triangular formation. Then it was calm.
The only way to describe their absence is how one could imagine a home feeling once an evil spirit has been exorcised— the atmosphere was instantly lighter.
"Holy shit...that Momzilla's psycho." I said under my breath, trying to regroup. My wife quietly nodded, as she began going over the cake, fixing whatever she deemed fixable. Her hand trembled as she replaced fallen gum paste blows, and tended to the ribbon issue. Truth be told, very little was actually wrong with the cake. I carefully took photos, and a small iPhone video immediately after. We did as much as we could, then reluctantly went back to our shop.
A whole year passed, and we had all but effectively put that incident out of our minds. There was not a single peep from either the bride, the groom, Crazy-Train, Little Twit, or Dud. That is, until Little Twit decided to exact her revenge.
It takes a special kind of asshole—one that only surfaces once every seven years—to wait over 365 days and spread fabricated, exaggerated, libelous slander about your company across the Internet, in the hope of doing damage to your reputation. Little Twit is just such an idiot.
At some point this last December (2011), Little Twit found an online rating forum, looked up our business, and gave us one out of five stars; she proceeded to paint my wife as attitudinal, unskilled, untrustworthy, and unfit to own or operate a cake shop. Boy, those sausage-like digits must've been tapping visciously that night! In one click of the SEND icon, Little Twit fired off a cowardly jab—a sniper shot against us...like she has for so many other hard-working people on her shit-list.
It struck my wife about a month later, as she unwound from a grueling week of business ownership by doing some personal Facebooking. "That little bitch!" broke out from her lips. "She slandered us all over the web...that's not at all how it went down!". I asked my wife for the URL and read it for myself. It made my blood boil at first. My wife was in disbelief; "Why would she wait a whole year to post this crap? Didn't she think we'd remember her?". One wonders...
We immediately busted her on it, which I'm sure caused that greasy little sphincter of hers to pucker. Yet, she still had enough venom left over to crap out one last—completely bogus—review against our company on another site, which we busted her for as well. The latter has since been rescinded by the site's management, to their credit.
So here we are, a week into this new, unwanted, unnecessary crisis, planning legal action against a stupid, plump, cross-eyed little twit who apparently has nothing better to do but write scathing fake reviews about local businesses that happen to displease her.
What she, and most customers fail to realize is that a great deal of communication exists between local business owners. My wife knows a lot of chefs—is good friends with many venue administrators (as am I). And we talk about bad customers—you
better believe it!
I would very much enjoy letting all my restaurateur buddies know her name, pass along her photo, and either warn them about her rottenness, or encourage them to give her some 'special sauce', some 'floor spice', and let her choke on it. Nah...my pals are too ethical for that.
Funny thing is, her sister (our original customer) never said a single bad thing about us, the cake, or her event at all. I still wonder how she feels about what her sister is up to.
Phew, I feel better getting that off my chest. At least I'm not bitter. I dedicate this creative nugget to the makers of Little Twit—may she always visualize a gooey snot-ball hiding out in her food. Few people deserve that more than her.
Moral of the story: BE HONEST, GOOD TO OTHERS, KIND and don't piss-off an artist...or you'll end up being immortalized in their next project.
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