Sarongs and Ninja Turtles Cakes

I’m part of tomorrow’s Do Not Submit online story telling event and I’ve been looking through old journal entries to find a good story. I came across this journal entry about a party my friend Julie and I attended when I lived in Seattle. The event started out with us getting free passes to see one of Heath Ledger’s first major films (trust me, it really isn’t worth mentioning) and then heading to a fashion show/Wednesday night gathering of the Seattle artsy crowd. I worked it down to a short story, but have decided to NOT tell it tomorrow. So I decided to post it here! Enjoy!

On a random Wednesday night, Julie and I find ourselves at a local fashion show and party held in an art gallery on Capitol Hill. The space was a true artist’s venue – eclectic, kitchy, full of somewhat purposefully unconventional (and uncomfortable) clothing.  Neither Julie nor I feel the need to own clothes that look like costumes from a “Fraggle Rock – LIVE” production, so we linger in the kitchen drinking beer from red SOLO glasses. We flit back and forth from the keg to the random people Julie either knows from hanging around the art-scene or just met for the first time that night. Everyone in some way fell somewhere just left of normal, but nonetheless were fun and usually had some most entertaining story to share.

Nick, for example, was wearing a busy-printed sarong and a simple gray t-shirt. Jules and I plowed into him as we were escaping from the kitchen with the last box of Little Debbie Strawberry Shortcakes. While filling our cups from the keg, I rummaged through the pantries of the shared kitchen and came across the box. I suggested we make off with the goods. To make amends, we offered to share our bounty with him.

“Dude,” he exclaimed while mawing through a Strawberry Shortcake, “when I was learning how to weld, I was taking classes down by the Hostess Reject store. And every day I use to go buy a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Cake” for twenty-five cents.”

Now there is an image for you – a sarong clad man with welding helmet and flaming torch, walking into the Hostess Reject Bakery to buy sponge cakes with plastic green frosting and stuffed with nuclear green filling. How did I not cough up my strawberry flavored cupcake?

And can we talk a minute about the fact that there is a Hostess REJECT store? And that our blow-torch wielding friend frequented it? What on Earth can be wrong with a Hostess cake? I mean, the things have a shelf life of years – literally.

When I was working at the Smithsonian one of my colleagues introduced me to the “T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S Site”.  It chronicled the adventures of two Rice University college students who had taken it upon themselves to subject Twinkies to all the scheming and devising that their electrical-engineering degree-earning minds could come up with, like being pulsed in a blender or microwaved. I distinctly remember that a store bought Twinkie – one that had somehow passed the-oh-so-rigorous quality inspections that Nick’s Mutant Ninja Turtle Cakes had not – survived a four story drop with nary a crack in its moist, spongy shell. Since Twinkies come in pairs, the brave second was the controI. I wonder how had the Ninja Turtle Cakes failed the ignominious Hostess Inspectors? Maybe it had not the correct fluorescent, nuclear green glow? Or the fluffy, creamy center had liquefied after only a mere 40 seconds in the microwave? And Nick dared to eat these.

“One day,” his story continued, “for my birthday I bought, like, 20 boxes of these things and then I went home and arranged them on a platter in this pyramid structure.” His eyes glazed over and I could tell that our innocent Little Debbie had somehow transported him to somewhere I, a Ninja Turtle Cake deprived Midwesterner, would thankfully never go. “All my friends came over and we ate them all,” he said. “It made me sick. They were so gross.”

Then he abruptly returned from whatever cream-filled nirvana he had been in and walked over to a lanky boy clad in a Speed Racer t-shirt and began talking to him, leaving me only to think to myself, “How could you be surprised that you got sick?”

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