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Cake Fight: Conclusion

November 17, 2013

Miss Part One of the story? You can find it (here).


At first I thought I could repair the cake. I tried feverishly to return the top layer to its original spot, but it crumbled in my hands. Before long, the bottom layer also slid to the floor. There was nothing left to do but clean up the mess. Since I’ve always turned to food during times of stress, I ate as much of the damaged cake as I threw away.


I felt doomed as I stood in the kitchen with sticky fingers and a circle of chocolate around my mouth. Not knowing what to do, I searched the kitchen like a drowning man looking for a life preserver. That was when I remembered Grandma’s Easter bread. I pulled the loaf out of the bread drawer and failed to notice that this loaf was heavier than usual.


Easter bread isn’t cake, but beggars can’t be choosers. I decided to bring the loaf to the Harvest Bake Sale in place of my mother’s cake. I wrapped Grandma’s bread in wax paper and headed for the sale, arriving just in time to add it to an inconspicuous corner of the goodies table.


Few men were in attendance—most were home watching The Fights. One of the men present was Bud Holloway, remarkable since Bud loved The Fights almost as much as the white Edsel usually taking up most of his driveway. I later learned his big Curtis Mathes TV had blown a tube; when he tried to fix it he blew all the fuses in his house. He usually had a coffee can full of replacements, but his son (a.k.a. Hollowhead) had gotten into the can and used the fuses as make-believe bombs to sink a plastic model of the USS Missouri in his bathtub. It being Saturday night, there weren’t any hardware stores open. The Edsel was in the process of having its battery recharged, so Bud couldn’t even drive to a bar or listen to The Fights in his car. As far as watching or listening to the match up, Bud was what Ricky would have referred to as “shit out of luck.” Like me, the Holloways had walked the few blocks to the bake sale.


The bidding started. I was hardly hungry after downing most of my mother’s chocolate cake, but as a connoisseur of sweets I did notice that the hot lights made some of the butter-frosted items appear shiny. Bud wasn’t interested in the baked goods and was angry at missing the televised battle. The combatants climbing into the ring that evening couldn’t have looked meaner or angrier than Bud Holloway.


Then something happened that prompted Bud’s livid expression to change into one of…puzzlement. He cocked his head like that dog on the labels of toe-tapping Grandma’s old records. Something bizarre was happening. Others heard it, too, because the crowd went quiet, making it easier to hear.


It was The Fights. 


Bud raced past the rows of baked goods and stopped at the end of the table in front of Grandma’s Easter bread. He picked up the loaf and pressed it to his ear like a veterinarian listening for a heartbeat. The bread was telling him what he wanted to know: The Champ has just knocked down the Challenger! And now for the count. The referee is counting— one, two and three and...wait just a minute. He’s up! The challenger is up, and—rrrrring! It’s back to their corners. 


NOW I knew what happened to my radio. But how it got turned on I’ll never know; maybe the heat from the lamps activated it. Bud pulled his ear from the bread and looked like he was about to tear up. He was clutching the loaf so tightly his fingers were digging into the golden crust.


“Fifty bucks!” he shouted. “I’ll give fifty bucks for this...bread.” 


An extraordinary amount of money—most of the items went for a buck or two. I don’t think Bud even cared that his money was going to a good cause. He quickly forked over the money, abandoned his family and ran off to find a quiet spot to listen to the remainder of the match.


When I arrived home, my mother yelled from her bedroom, “How was the bake sale?”


“Fine,” I yelled back.


“How did my cake do? Did anyone buy it?”


I thought about my answer and finally said, “Yep.”


“Really? What did it sell for?”


“Fifty bucks.”


“Really? No fooling?            


“No fooling.”            


She sounded quite satisfied. “Well, that’s certainly an improvement over last year.”






I promised to identify the part of this story that isn’t true. Some readers have questioned whether a small radio could survive being baked in an oven—I actually think it possible. In this instance, my grandmother only threatened to dump my pocket radio in her Easter bread batter. Because this element of Cake Fight is imaginary, I’ve resisted including it in my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope. What do you think? Should I incorporate this story in my book even though it contains fiction? Please leave your reply under Comments.








it was entertaining, but since i didn't believe it possible...
By: TexWisGirl on November 17, 2013
Change the sale price to $5 and use it.
By: cranky on November 17, 2013
Nope. Even though it is very cute and you write well, fiction should not be in a memoir. I hate to say it, but this story didn't ring true in more than one area, you know? Things like--even if you used toothpicks to help keep the layers centered while you frosted the sides, you don't leave them in the cake. Sliding the top off the cake onto the floor--okay, I'll give you that one--but the bottom, too? Can't picture Grandma deliberately ruining your radio--and her bread. The radio just wouldn't work after being in the batter and the oven--let alone turn itself on. You have quite the imagination, though! ;)
By: soulcomfort on November 17, 2013
well I disagree with the folks above me- I howled with laughter at this story- and I would keep it just the way it is- you could always add a disclaimer footnote saying some of this might be "not so true" Now I must go laugh some more...thanks for all your stories!
By: Kathe W on November 17, 2013
It's a fun, enjoyable story but very clearly fiction despite the now, familiar characters. It's not only the radio getting into the mix but the whole outcome of the story. I see a memoir as truth with some mild exaggeration for humour's sake or to make a point, but I'd have trouble looking past this McGuffin.
By: Hilary on November 17, 2013
Maybe you could have a last chapter in the book called "Other Stories I Have Told" with a subhead like "The tales I've told in my memoir are totally true, I swear, but here are a few others that are mostly true, or partly true, or that I wish were true ..."
By: tom sightings on November 17, 2013
Picky bunch of critiques. I like Tom's suggestion, or keep it for another book that contain some truth. Either way, I enjoyed the story.
By: Daniel LaFrance on November 17, 2013
Include it. It's wonderful. But write a disclosure for the beginning of the book stating that some of your memories come from you imagination. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on November 17, 2013
Hah - I'd never believe that you'd throw away cake... :-) You could include the story as a dream you had after your grandmother threatened to dump your radio into the batter. The story and the humor describe you so well that I would not mind it being included as a dream.
By: Pixel Peeper on November 17, 2013
I loved it! I say include it~
By: Shelly on November 17, 2013
Yes. It's too enjoyable and believable to omit it, Stephen. "Creative non-fiction" is the way to go. Don't feel that you have to be accurate with every detail. Writing is about creating good stories. And this one is excellent! No disclosures, apologies or disclaimers are necessary. Really, who would sue you over it? It's worth the telling. xoRobyn
By: Robyn Engel on November 17, 2013
Can you tell us how much the Easter bread actually sold for? So much of the ending relies on that radio being in the bread! I'm inclined to recommend keeping "like with like" in a book, or, as someone suggested, have a separate section at the end of the book for "slightly taller" tales :)
By: jenny_o on November 17, 2013
Ah, what the heck? It's a great story; throw it in the mix with a disclaimer if you feel guilty!
By: Eva Gallant on November 17, 2013
I tend to think that fiction is fiction and once major items are changed it cannot be called a memoir. I did have fun reading it anyway.
By: Tabor on November 17, 2013
I'd leave it out of the memoir, and submit it elsewhere, so it can be appreciated. Not that it wouldn't be appreciated in your memoir, of course. But folks might start to doubt your true stories.
By: Val on November 17, 2013
Change it to your grandmother wanted to teach you a lesson, so she hollowed out a baked loaf and hid your radio, expecting you to find it when you cut into it. Use it as fiction, or let people know that your book is mostly true.
By: mimi on November 17, 2013
I love your ability to spin a great story. I wouldn't include it in a book described as a memoir but it is a great story.
By: Cheryl P. on November 17, 2013
Yes. this fiction fits right in with the truth.
By: red on November 17, 2013
It makes a great tale!
By: John on November 17, 2013
Don't include it in your memoirs, BUT PRINT IT SOMEWHERE!!
By: fishducky on November 18, 2013
Oh, you have to include it. As I've said before, I've injected some fictional elements into my stories. Which I prefer to call "based" upon my life.
By: Al Penwasser on November 18, 2013
Absolutely include it. Great story!
By: Bouncin Barb on November 18, 2013
Heck yeah, you tell a wonderful story and this one is a doozy.....include it.
By: Oma Linda on November 18, 2013
I figured someone would buy the bread and find the partially melted radio in there. The fact it survived the oven was pretty farfetched. The fact it magically turned itself on? I'd keep this one out of your memoir.
By: Lexa Cain on November 18, 2013
Terrific story! Go ahead and use the story in its entirety - I always think the author is allowed a degree of latitude?
By: Bryan Jones on November 21, 2013
Yes, incorporate! ;)
By: Michael Manning on November 21, 2013

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