(Scroll down for single-serving chocolate lemon cupcake recipe)
We may oh-nly ha-ave tonight
But ’til the mo-orning sun you’re mine
Play the music low,
And sway to the rhythm of love.
The Prius is a porpoise in a sea of humpbacks, trying to fumble back home over the four-way-stop hills and past the tiled walkways filled with walking mannequins that make this city a hip tourist destination. Inside, there is music, and my dad smiles at me. I smile back, shyly, before returning my full attention to the cardboard box in my lap. Tucked neatly inside are two fancy, special cupcakes – one for each of us, and probably too expensive to tell mom.
At the kitchen table I let him talk about history, science, the news. My cupcake looked like a butter-kissed rose, whirling across a ballroom floor between the beams of honey chandeliers, until I was about halfway through. Then, even for me, the mounds of chocolate, peanut butter, chocolate seemed a bit much.
I don’t know why I didn’t stop earlier than I did, I remark as I throw the half-eaten carcass in the garbage. One dessert a week, one evening has sabotaged my week of fat-talking and attempts to eat less. I am a cupcake, heavy on the kitchen floor as I stump along toward next Monday.
Blue eyes, deep like the sea
They roll back when she’s laughin’ at me she
Rises…. up…. like the tide…
The moment her lips meet
I wear a red coat every day. I haven’t been shopping for clothes since the first block of ice fell on my October, the first time I remember feeling cold every minute of every day. I have not eaten a cupcake for approximately eleven months, though I play baking games on my computer between geometry headaches.
It takes too long to write in my journal, so I have stopped recording every fleeting glance or marshmallow moment or thought of death. Instead, I draw cupcakes. These are not for eating – they are supermodels, composed of whipped sugar and buttermilk, with fluttering eyelashes and pooched lips. They are shaped like chubby soda cans, straight and round and squat, but they wear their feather boas and red pumps as if they were Marilyn Monroe. I am going to publish them online. They are going to be famous, and I am going to stay hidden behind the screen. Maybe…
I have learned to take it as a given that I will get lightheaded after a few hours at a birthday party.
I saved up calories today so I could survive on a slice of veggie pizza around the circle of Mario-whizzes who also do makeup art. I don’t want to eat anything more, but people keep offering me cupcakes from the plastic-box city built of them, identical yellow and pink frosted heads gazing up into the kitchen ceiling light, with no comment.
One other girl – I don’t know her – also refuses the cupcakes. “I have high blood sugar,” she explains, as if we didn’t already gather that from her dragonfly fashion of alighting and zipping between groups and games all afternoon. I believe her, even though her knees are rather boney.
The night drags on. I wander through the caves that are granite rooms, proudly ensconced in Tori’s leather jacket, staring at the floor next to each tight circle of conspirators. My lips grow fond of each other so it would feel strange to open them.
The girl with high blood sugar approaches from a room full of light and noise. She licks at the crown of pink frosting on a vanilla cupcake, as her fingers paint themselves the colors of disobedience. She addresses me: “I think you are a very creative and sensitive person. You have a certain aura, it’s unusual.”
When my dad honks outside, I give Tori her leather jacket back and cringe into the June night.
My school does a “birthday bash” once per month, to honor all the kids who might have had birthdays within May, for instance, regardless of whether their friends knew or bothered to buy them sugar-blossoms tied up in ribbons. This month, I’m just glad for the first time to be one of four at a table where there is no silence or space for outsider stares to invade. The other girls choose their stout cakes, pile on their choice of frosting, sprinkle on their choice of sprinkles, and come back to finish our conversation about whether or not short guy superheroes are acceptable in films. One drops her cupcake on the floor in a wild gesture of condemnation, leaving a frozen chocolate tidal wave waiting to usurp her chair legs for a moment before she erases the mishap with several recycled napkins.
I try to ignore the table catty-corner to us, but at the same time I want them with their cupcakes to hear us, to see me with people who are also eating cupcakes. The girls are pretty as vanilla flowers wrapped up in orange silk, glancing at my glaring defense of natural height rights for all people. And he – the one who hyphenates my breaths – dares me to glance back. He has a colorful cupcake, a work of art really, a swirl of sunflower-yellow frosting tying into a whirl of strawberry smoke, hailing deep chocolate gems. No inch of the small white plate will be spared a colorful decoration. Does he notice me? Does he think I am with them?
When I look up again, he has left with his. I am still with mine.
She rises up like the tide –
Recipe: Chocolate Lemon Cupcake for One
- 3 tbs all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- tiny pinch salt
- 1 tbs sweet nut butter (I used PB Crave Cookie Nookie Peanut Butter; Spekuloos cookie butter might be a popular choice)
- 4 tsp water
- 1 tbs of the yogurt you are using for frosting (see below)
- one 5.3 ounce container of lemon flavored Greek yogurt (I used Dannon Light & Fit Lemon Meringue Pie Greek yogurt)
- 1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)
- 1 fresh, washed strawberry
- 1 tsp rainbow nonpareils
Preheat oven to 330 Fahrenheit.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir. Add nut butter, water, and one spoon of the Greek yogurt (reserve the rest for the frosting.) Mix well.
Pour all the batter into a foil cupcake liner inside a mini ramekin. Place ramekin on a cookie sheet for stability. Bake at 33o F for 12-15 minutes or until you are satisfied with the texture of the cake.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
For the frosting, add cocoa powder into the rest of your Greek lemon yogurt, and mix thoroughly. When cupcake is completely cool, spoon frosting on top. Top with rainbow nonpareils and fresh strawberry (or your favorite cupcake toppings.) Enjoy this dense, protein-rich, tart and sweet treat any time of day!
Note: If you make the cupcake batter without baking powder, it’s yummy raw (and safe to eat since there are no raw eggs!)