It’s time for me to come out of the closet.
No, not THAT closet.
But there is something weighing heavily on my mind that I hope you can find in your hearts to, if not forgive, at least try to understand. I feel like most readers have become more like family than some cold, lifeless audience, so it’s time to unburden my soul, even though I fear that some of you will never look at me in quite the same way again.
This is going to be hard. Best to just blurt it out and get it over with once and for all. Here goes.
I actually like fruitcake.
I know. It’s difficult to understand, and most of you probably would have preferred not to have known about this dark, troubling secret, but I have to confess so I can get some peace. I’ve enjoyed fruitcake since I was a boy. My mother, bless her heart, actually made them for me. But don’t hold that against her; in all other ways she was a good parent. Her mother made fruitcakes for her, as well. I think it’s genetic.
My mother-in-law enjoys an occasional fruitcake, too, but my wife can’t tolerate them. I suspect the trait skipped a generation in her family. Maybe two. My daughter will not eat fruitcake either, and my son would not touch one with a ten-foot dessert fork. And, I must admit, I have not tried to foist my addiction off on my children, lest they end up having to live with similar shame.
Heaven knows it’s not easy going through life enjoying fruitcake. For one thing, all the bad publicity has made them difficult to find. Not many grocery stores carry them anymore. I finally found one this year at a discounted discount store. I slipped out late one evening and bought it while no one was about. I sneaked it into the house in a liquor box so as not to arouse suspicion from the neighbors. My wife, to her credit or not, has helped keep this secret for more than two decades. She’s not proud of it but loves me in spite of this one great flaw.
I spent several weeks doctoring the cake. You see, no one is supposed to eat fruitcake “as is.” They require moisturizing. Mogan David 20/20 works well, as does most any cheap, sweet red wine. I just dribble a bit over the top, cover with cheesecloth and let it ripen. Depending on the original condition of the cake, the ripening process may require six or seven treatments. I usually sip a dram or two of the treatment each time to make certain the solution is right. It’s best to start about Thanksgiving so the cake will be perfectly moist and quite ripe by Christmas.
But this cake was not a good candidate. It was already too moist and had been baked with the wrong kind of ingredients. The cake part was yellow, not ginger-colored, like all good fruitcakes should be. A total waste of cheap red wine! I spent two evenings gnawing on the cheesecloth to salvage what I could.
I got so desperate one year I ordered a fruitcake from Claxton, Ga., the one place in the universe that not only allows but also promotes consumption of fruitcake. It came in a brown paper wrapper, naturally.
I suspect that I may have to make my own next year. I think some stores in the seedier parts of town still carry the fruit – colorful concoctions of red and green cherries; dried citrus rind; raisins; and orange, yellow and red chunks of a gelatinous material that can not be identified by any known scientific procedure.
I’ll use a spice cake mix and most likely will cook in the wee hours of the morning to avoid detection. I’ve been told that the fruitcake police can smell one of these forbidden cakes baking from miles away.
Anyway, now I feel better. Thanks for listening.