Charlotte’s Carrot Cake
Agnes Bradshaw’s nasal voice droned on . . . and on, as she continued to rhapsodize about the joys to be found in her bread pudding.
“The way she’s carrying on,” whispered Mama Lou in an aside, “I’d say most of the bourbon got in her, rather than her famous bread pudding.”
“Be nice, Louisa,” Ethel Mae cautioned. “We’re working towards a good cause and it’s a gorgeous day. Make love, not war.”
Before Mama Lou could issue a sharp retort, they were distracted by the appearance of the Pastor’s wife, Charlotte Griffin. Charlotte was not the typical First Lady. She was thirty-five-ish, beweavable with hair flowing down near her waistline. For the picnic, she had chosen to wear short-shorts with a pair of four-inch wedge sandals. In defiance of the late morning heat, her face was made up as if she were heading for a nightclub.
Ethel Mae and Mama Lou thought she was the most genuine person they had ever known.
“Will you just look at that?” Agnes Bradshaw hissed to no one in particular. “She should be ashamed of herself. What kind of first lady dresses like that?”
“Matthew 7:1,” said Mama Lou.
“What’s that, Louisa?”
“‘Judge not'”, said Mama Lou. “It seems like someone much bigger than me suggested that it was not our place to pass judgment on our fellow man.”
Agnes sniffed and turned her nose up to Mama Lou. The frown quickly morphed into an ingratiating smile as Charlotte Griffin picked her way across the lawn. “Good morning, First Lady Charlotte. What a pleasure to see you.”
Charlotte smiled sweetly and then gestured towards the box in her hands. “Good morning ladies. It’s a pleasure to see y’all as well.” She leaned over the table to place the box carefully on the edge. A group of teenaged boys who’d been goofing around with a soccer ball paused to watch the action, mouths agape. “Mama Lou and Ethel Mae, come on over here and give me some sugar. The sight of you just makes my day.”
Agnes looked on as the three exchanged hugs, her smile now more grimace than pleasure. After the three pulled apart from their group hug, she smiled brightly and said, “Eddie is going to get such a kick to see you. Did you have a mind to bake any apple fritter tarts this time?”
“Of course, baby and I set aside a few for you to take home with you.”
“Perfect,” said Charlotte. She stepped in closer, sweeping her hair over her shoulders, clasping the hand of first Mama Lou then Ethel Mae. “I haven’t told him yet about today’s auction or the other fund raising activities we have planned. So, all of this will be sort of a surprise. But there’s been so much tension between Pastor Griffin and the deacons . . . if they could just sit down and work it out . . . but you know how stubborn men can be. That’s why us ladies have to step up and take the lead from time to time, right?”
“Don’t worry, honey,” said Ethel Mae. “It’s all going to work out.”
“Exactly,” echoed Mama Lou. “Now tell us what you got in that pretty box.”
“I’m trying my hand at baking. Eddie, uh, Pastor Griffin’s mother, told me that carrot cake was his favorite so I decided to give it a try.”
Agnes squeezed in between Charlotte and Mama Lou. “I’m sure it will be divine. Let’s see it. We can put it right here next to my bread pudding.”
Charlotte ceremoniously lifted the lid on the box, revealing the dessert inside. The cake was lopsided, the frosting applied in uneven wops, and little pieces of raw carrots peaked out through the frosting.
“Oh”, said Agnes. “It looks delicious.”
UP NEXT: Delilah’s Danish.