Cigarettes and Chocolate Cake
Cigarettes and chocolate cake.
Sebastian loves the song ‘Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk’ by Rupert Wainwright because he resonates with the feeling of it. Whilst the lyrics are not an exact match for his story, he recommends a listen sometime: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6N0sNMKFO4
Sebastian’s story is about chocolate cake, not chocolate milk, and even though, like Rupert, he has also used countless cigarettes and sexual encounters to fill the gaping, bruised-edged hole in his aching soul, (haven’t we all), it isn’t really about those either.
The reason it’s about the chocolate cake and that it’s Sebastian’s story rather than yours or mine, is that Sebastian had a chocolate cake epiphany.
He was standing, as usual, in front of one of the over-lit, film studio dressing room mirrors with his highlight and contour make-up palette in his left hand, and assorted size brushes tucked in the back-pocket of his jeans, which was a dumb place to store them since he had to choose the correct one by feel. He was applying yet more make-up to yet another svelte and sparkling wannabe starlet’s face. His mind, as usual, was drifting over how indefinably un-svelte he himself looked, and he was fantasizing about his brilliant life if only he could lose three more kilos. This was a constant, rather boring refrain that the mirror whispered in his ear in a rather repetitive day-long drone. Sebastian wished he could undo the top button of his jeans, which felt too tight. His not quite, but lurking-two-years-away-yet, future double chin, jeered at him from the periphery of the mirror.
On the table behind them sat an illicitly glistening chocolate cake that the camera crew had bought him for his birthday. It heaved with delicious, dark secrets and winked invitingly at him. His friends were going to expect a wry, witty, perhaps dryly acerbic speech from him in exchange for the gift.
Sebastian sighed. The cake licked scintillating lips with an inviting tongue and wafted a heavenly chocolate perfume towards him. The wannabe looked critically at her chiseled cheekbones in the mirror, and her arched brows frowned at the highlight powder he had just applied for the third time. She still didn’t think she liked it and she definitely didn’t like chocolate cake.
And that is when the epiphany hit Sebastian.
If he had to judge a ‘who would I prefer to be’ contest between the wannabe and the chocolate cake, the cake won hands down. The cake shivered in delight and appreciation. The wannabe stalked off to hungrily devour some media attention.
It wasn’t tea-break yet and the film crew would be pissed at him for digging in before blowing out his candles, but Sebastian and the cake needed to talk. He sat down in front of her. She smiled an invitingly chocolate smile. “You and I have a lot in common” she purred, “you could love me, not for my rich, chocolately skin and my really rather magnificent looks, but because I taste divine”.
“What do we have in common? I’m not magnificently beautiful, or sticky, or chocolate flavour”.
She ignored him. “I can make you feel really good about yourself, just like you do to the people whose faces you paint all day long”.
“Ha, you’re a sneaky temptress and we both know you’ll make me feel fat and ugly”.
“Don’t be so boringly self-absorbed Sebastian. Try at least to consider eating me as if you love me, rather than planning to guzzle me along with revulsion at the thought of your love handles.”
“Well it’s your fault after all. I wouldn’t have love handles if it wasn’t for the likes of you.”
“You should call them hate handles, and you created them, not by eating the likes of me but by hating yourself for it”. She sighed, “God, you’re so thick sometimes. And not just around your waist.”
“My hate handles are most definitely caused by you, take some responsibility bitch.”
“I honestly don’t get you humans. You make me with love, fill me with deliciousness, and blame me for your low self esteem. I on the other hand, feel really good about myself, thank you very much. Do you see any hate handles on me? If you eat me the way you were meant to, in the way I was made, your hate handles would melt away without a second thought. Of course!” Sigh. “Simpleton!”
Sebastian looked at her suspiciously. “What do you mean, ‘in the way you were meant to’? How am I meant to eat you? I guzzle you down, you’re seemingly gone for good, I feel overstuffed and ugly, and you reappear next day as love handles. There is no other way. You’re the one who seduces me and then I end up hating myself for it. It is simply our intertwined fate. And besides all this cake talk is making me famished.”
“Don’t eat me to fill the ravenous hole inside yourself. Eat me with juicy tenderness, salivate over me, taste all of my deliciousness without thinking about yourself, and listen to your satiation ping, darling.”
“Satiation ping?” Sebastian groaned.
“The ping that goes off in the back of your head, just above your occiput; the one that sends a message to your stomach to stop eating me because it’s satiated. And while you’re at it, you could also let your tongue get a word in occasionally. It really likes radicchio lettuce and celery if only you’d sometimes give it the time of day to hear what it wants too.” She paused, glanced at the ceiling, hummed a chocolately hum and added as a quiet afterthought, “…instead of having your whole life governed by the black hole of ‘not good enough’, of course.”
Sebastian leaned forward, sniffed, salivated, cut a moist and trembling slice without waiting for the film crew’s approval, and then sat back and luxuriated in her velvety, chocolatey, creamy warmth.
His satiation ping pinged. Sebastian smiled a satisfied smile and burped quietly.
Then he handed in his notice. He hadn’t studied literature and creative writing to be a make-up artist. On his first day off work, he bought a bigger pair of jeans, but within a month he could fit into the old pair comfortably, which was ironic, because it didn’t matter to him anymore. In his old life, when it had mattered so much, his weight had resolutely beaten him in a loaded wrestling match for power. He used all the extra energy he accrued from not worrying, to write a novel about cigarettes and sex and about his very human longing to be loved. It sold exceptionally well, the publisher bought a huge chocolate cake for the book launch in New York and Sebastian finished his speech before he graciously accepted a slice.