Sherlock, The Princess Bride, and the Flushed Frosting

Who puts frosting in the toilet? Satan!
Who puts frosting in the toilet? Satan!

Some curious things happen in our house. Random things. Bizarre things. Things I never would have imagined would occur in the world I occupied before giving birth. These things are enough to give a mother pause. Tonight I walked into our downstairs bathroom and found cupcake frosting stuck to the side of the toilet bowl. Yes. Frosting. That sweet, creamy, confection of the gods. The horror! Frosting is the best part of a cupcake and should never be jettisoned for any reason on any occasion. Ever. And, discovering frosting in the toilet is not simply peculiar. It’s borderline sacrilegious. If one were to dispose of extraneous frosting (and I doubt such a thing exists), a logical resting place for it (aside from my belly) is a kitchen waste receptacle. Questions raced through my mind. How could this happen? Why would anyone get rid of frosting? Why would they throw it in the toilet instead of a trash can? Which of my traitorous compadres would perpetrate such a heinous act? And who the heck said anyone could have a cupcake 30 minutes before dinner? Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch is boss), but the game was afoot. I had a mystery to solve.

After taking a few photos to document the crime scene, I began examining the evidence. The frosting was no doubt from the Halloween-themed cupcakes my dad and his wife brought over yesterday. Each small cake was decked with orange, purple, and black frosting, which was topped off with a plastic ring in the shape of a mummy, a green monster of Frankenstein, a jack-o-lantern, or a friendly ghost. I dug through the wastebasket and uncovered the cupcake wrapper. A ghost ring rested next to it, its circular boo-mouth expressed shock but, since dead men tell no tales, remained silent. The cupcake had been yellow cake. I made a mental note. It took no time to ascertain that the frosting had been eliminated due to its tell-tale, raven-black color. As we had discovered on Sunday when we were all suddenly sporting black, sugary mustaches, that ebony frosting can be a bugger to get off your skin, teeth, and tongue. The culprit, sneaking a snack before dinner, would be wise to avoid a bakery-begot beard. Sidestepping it was a sneaky stroke of genius. Obviously, this was the work of a seasoned cupcake crook. I determined that the cupcake wrapper was slightly stiff. The crime had been committed more than 20 minutes ago. I flashed back to my whereabouts during that time frame. I’d been upstairs purchasing Halloween costumes online. I’d given the guilty party an open window with no supervision. I noted that next to the wrapper sat a discarded Stonyfield yogurt tube. Very interesting. I left the bathroom and went in search of suspects to question.

Steve had been out photographing autumn during the cupcake-ingestion time frame, but I approached him with the evidence to see if he would give something away. He, of course, denied culpability, and I was inclined to believe him because he was the only one who avoided the sweet treats the day before. He couldn’t get past the black frosting. It freaked him out. I made him stick out his tongue anyway so I could check for frosting residue. That test came back negative.

I next approached Joe because he was the one who originally had asked me for a cupcake after returning home from school and, well, with his ADHD he’s got some pretty steep impulse-control issues. Joe is also a notoriously incompetent liar (his nickname from me is Saran Wrap because he’s just that transparent). If he’d done it, I’d know immediately and could move on to more important work, like starting dinner. He told me it hadn’t been him. I made him stick out his tongue as physical evidence just in case. No dye. I was inclined to buy his innocence story anyway because he is a chocolate cake guy. He only digs into the yellow cake once the chocolate is gone, and there were chocolate cupcakes on the counter to be had.

I walked downstairs to corner Luke. To be honest, I really suspected it was Luke anyway. I began my interrogation.

“Hey Luke…did you have a cupcake today? I found black frosting in the toilet downstairs,” I said, stating the facts right up front.

“No,” he replied, looking a bit concerned.

“If you did, you’d best come clean. I’m looking for the truth here and, if I find out later that you did it and you’ve lied to me, you will lose your iPad privileges.” I was speaking as gently as possible, but giving him that don’t-mess-with-momma look that usually instills fear.

“I didn’t do it.” he insisted with a slight growl. The suspect was becoming rather agitated. “Why does everyone think I did it?”

“Let me tell you why I think it was you,” I grilled on. “1) It was a yellow cupcake and you’re the only other person in this house who eats yellow cupcakes beside me, and I know I didn’t eat it. 2) I saw you go into that bathroom this afternoon after school. 3) There was a yogurt wrapper in the trash along with the cupcake wrapper, and you’re the only one who eats that yogurt. Are you positive you don’t want to be honest with me right now and save yourself?”

“I didn’t do it!” he barked, now with a definite, defensive posture and willful stubbornness.

“Well…for someone who didn’t commit the crime, you sure are reacting violently to the accusation, sweetie.”

“ARGH!!!!” he yelled out in frustration and ran up the stairs and away from me, indignant and annoyed. I guess I had twisted the knife a bit too far.

I returned to the bathroom, wiped the frosting (which was leaching dark-blue dye into the toilet water) from the bowl, washed my hands, and vowed to put the mystery behind me.

When we sat down to eat dinner twenty minutes later, though, I couldn’t help myself. I brought it up again. I prodded, shared my knowledge of the crime scene, and asked for a confession. I guaranteed freedom from impunity. I just wanted to know who tried to flush the stupid frosting and why they decided to flush it rather than leaving it in a trash can. It was driving me nuts. I always catch the criminal. Despite my perfect record for ferreting out the miscreant in our home-based mysteries, no one caved. There was no teary-eyed confession to be had. My perfect record was dashed. Dammit. I began wondering if they had made a blood-brother pact to carry the secret to their graves simply to best me, to pull one over on their crazy mother. Well, they’re about to learn that I refuse to give up. I am smarter than they are. They’re no match for my brains. They’ve fallen victim to one of the classic blunders. The first, of course, is never get involved in a land war in Asia. But only slightly less well-known is never go in against your mother when frosting has been wasted.

They may think I’ve given up. They may think this is behind us. But someday I will get the truth, probably on my death bed…and then I will most likely laugh out loud hysterically and keel over just like Vizzini.

Surviving The Fire Swamp

This photo is not relevant to this post. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.
This photo is not relevant to this post. I just happen to find things my boys do amusing.

Buttercup (referring to the Fire Swamp): “We’ll never survive.”

Wesley: “Nonsense. You’ve only saying that because no one ever has.”

~The Princess Bride

Someone asked me yesterday where I am with the book I am working on. It was a polite question, meant only to show interest in my progress. I have been dreading this question because, well, the truth is that I am nowhere with the book I am working on because I haven’t really started it. Wait. That’s not totally true. I have two ideas fleshed out and a couple chapters in each story attempt. I also have another story idea that I really kind of like, but it is still flipping over and over in my brain like a rock in a tumbler until I decide it’s shiny enough for me to write. So, I guess I have started writing. I simply haven’t made any real progress on an actual book.

A couple days ago I began analyzing my situation to determine what is causing my writing paralysis. Originally I blamed it on a lack of time. I used my blog as an excuse. Well, I’ve been off my blog more or less for over a month now and I haven’t added one lousy, stinking word to any of my started stories. Not one. I haven’t worked on a character sketch or written an outline. Aside from giving a couple hours’ worth of mental massage to my stories, I haven’t done a thing. I don’t suppose I can blame my blog for my lack of progress anymore. I have time now that the boys are back in school. As I documented the other day, I’ve had enough time to clean out my pantry, hand wash the floors, and dust baseboards. All those housecleaning maneuvers are clearly nothing but the actions of a desperate woman. I’m uncomfortable enough with the idea of having to write something creative that I cleaned out my pantry. I hadn’t done that job properly once in the ten years we’ve been in this house. Interesting that I should decide now is the time to remedy that situation.

Tonight, though, during a conversation with my sister it hit me. I was able to admit what is at the root of my procrastination. It’s fear. I’m afraid I won’t be able to do it. I’m afraid that if I do finish it that it still won’t be worth reading. I’m concerned that perhaps my putting myself forth as a writer was a mistake because if I do this and I’m not successful then I won’t even be able to claim that I am a writer. And, I only just got up the nerve to admit that I’m a writer a little less than a year ago. What if I’m a sham?

I’m a smart gal. I know there are no guarantees. I know that the best things in life come when you take a risk. I know that life is a growth proposition and to make forward progress you actually have to move. I know all these things. So, what the hell is my problem? Why am I being such a scaredy cat? And, how do I get beyond my fear? How do I make it through the Fire Swamp when I don’t see any way to survive?

I’d love to believe I could face the Fire Swamp the way that Wesley did, with optimism, blind faith, and complete confidence that it would all simply somehow work out. But, I don’t work that way, which is what has gotten me into this predicament in the first place. Rather than taking Wesley’s approach, like Inigo Montoya, I think I need to go back to the beginning. I need to make mini-goals that aren’t as scary as the goal of writing an actual book. Perhaps, first I will write a paragraph and see how that goes. Maybe I can do that every day for a week and then gradually, over time, I will find that fiction writing isn’t really as terrifying as I’m imagining? I nearly stalled out on my 80-page Master’s thesis due to this same type of writer’s paralysis, but I survived that Fire Swamp so I’m fairly certain I can negotiate this one. I have to stop telling myself I can’t. There are no flame spurts, lightning sand, or R.O.U.S. here, anyway, so that means my chances of survival are pretty good.