By Lynn Ruth Miller

"There's nothing a Cupcake and Coffee can't solve."
Marie Williams Johnstone

I was in Gatwick Airport sipping a coffee (black) and eyeing a chocolate cupcake dripping with whipped cream and glistening chocolate nuggets peeping out of the frosting like naughty children playing hide and seek. I turned my face away and blushed as if I had seen something obscene. I was sure everyone in that café could see the unbridled lust in my eyes.

I noticed an elderly couple at the table next to me. They were in their mid-eighties, his Zimmer frame resting against a chair, her cane beside it. They were dressed for an outing. He was in a proper suite and tie, starched collar gripping his reddened, wrinkled neck. She wore a lovely flowered hat and a ruffled chiffon shirtwaist that bound her bosom like a trapped puppy. The two of them were tucking into two jumbo cupcakes so large each had to use a knife and fork to convey their treats to their mouths. Hers was a Caramel Macchiato number with Kailua whipped into the frosting, a bold maraschino cherry perched on top and his…Oh My God, my mouth waters at the memory…his was a snickerdoodle cupcake rippling with cinnamon, frosted with a green meringue that looked like an Easter Bonnet Gone Bad.

The two of them shared their colorful fare with great enthusiasm, each tasting the other’s while making approving gustatory noises. As his fork dug into her dripping caramel, he showered crumbs on that conservative tie, while she dropped a generous glob of snickerdoodle into her cleavage. Each slaked his thirst with tall lattes, the whipped cream dripping down the side of the glass.

As I watched the obvious pleasure they were taking in their mid-morning snack, I thought, “This could never happen in San Francisco.” Everyone in my home town is reminded daily of the evil calories can do to the body. If you are over eighty years old, you are a disgusting glutton if you ingest more than 1000 calories a day because you don’t work them off. People of that age are supposed to sit in their rocking chairs and complain about their medical procedures. The mid-morning treat on that kind of diet is a small handful of unsalted almonds chewed slowly and washed down with tap water. No whipped cream, no maraschino cherry and absolutely no Kailua.

Then I remembered my friend David. He weighs a good 400 pounds and has to heave himself into his car by gripping the rail above the door. The seat belt will not go around him. We often dine together and as I nibble my salad (dressing on the side) and stare moodily at my melba toast, he digs into chocolate brandy pie topped with ice cream and fudge sauce. He mops up the crumbs on his plate with a frosted biscuit and he is a happy man. I asked him if eating those heavy desserts worried him and he said. “My dear, I have lived a full and happy life. In my youth, I worried about my figure and my sex appeal. In my middle age I worried about my heart and my income. I am in my dotage now and I have learned that worry kills. “

“So does chocolate brandy pie with ice cream,” I said.

“Indeed,” said my wise friend. “But should I have a heart attack this minute, my face would contort into a painful unpleasant grimace and you would carry that memory with you for the rest of what is left of your life. But while I am enjoying my pie and my biscuit, should the life drain out of me, I will let it go with a joyous smile that will convince you that death is an exquisite pleasure.”

“Then you are doing ME a service by indulging in rich, calorie laden desserts!” I said. “Can you summon the waitress? I would like to return the favor. I think I’ll have that gooey, Nutella cupcake with the walnut topping…and don’t forget the whipped cream.”

"When you look at a cupcake, you've got to smile."
Anne Byrn