There is nothing quite like an invitation to a “braai” (South African for barbeque) to strike terror into my timid soul. All that sitting around during the day makes inevitable a host of evils: unflattering lighting, uv exposure leading to the inevitable pre-mature ageing, poor quality conversation, the constant threat that someone might suggest we watch the rugby match and often evidence of over-catering (the horror the horror!).
Being a creature of what Jane Austen might call “pert” and fleetingly held opinions, I think the thought that I am attending a braai might be equally terrifying to some hosts as their invitations are to me. How I love to climb upon my high-horse and get it to hoof and kick its way through conversation, while I judge and offend my way through the afternoon- stopping only briefly when the bowl of corn chips is refilled to gather sustenance and the strength to judge more fiercely.
A world in which my friends had the courage to stop inviting me to braais or a world in which I had the courage to say no to their invitations would be a fine place indeed. But its a world that could never be. The laws of social intecourse are very strict and deeply felt. There is nothing quite like being added to an event on facebook to get most of us out of our pjamas and willingly into a situation we would prefer not to be in. (Indeed, for us social-contrarians, there is nothing quite like being added to a event on facebook to get us to form opinions about which we have no conviction- opinions we can take with us to wield like weapons at our unforunate fellow “invitees”).
So then, apart from arriving late and leaving early what, I have begun to ask myself, can be done to alleiviate at least some of all this suffering. My new strategy is this: strategically planned topics of conversation- controversial enough to make conversation lively but trivial enough to avoid offense.
At the next lull in converstaion during the course of a dreaded braai my plan amounts to firmly expressing the following opinion:
” Cup-cakes, even those of the red-velvet variety, are overrated- there are far superior treats to be had”.
Now the foodies might scoff, “hah, what a dated idea- has this poor pale girl not come across the gourmet marshmallow, the macaroon or the deconstructed brownie in a mason jar (or whatever it is that foodies are deconstructing and popping into mason jars these days)“. The traditionalist,on the other hand, might contest the worthiness of these alternatives. But whatever your culinary commitments, you are (well at least if you are the kind of person to be in attendance at braai) bound to have an opinion. One cannot help but form an opinion on this matter- evidence perhaps that it is not quite so trivial. My guess is that this issue, if navigated well, could fill at least the time between my returning from a trip to a bathroom to the next refilling of the chip-bowl. In fact, I predict a light-hearted, witty and uniting vigour in a joint exploration of this issue: the highlight of the day (after the hosts signature guacamole or potato bake).
What happens after that? Well I haven’t gotten quite so far yet. I am likely to saddle up and starting shouting more risky opinions into every corner of the patio- “Move aside, move aside, I need room to disagree with you“!
My true opinion on cup-cakes? Its not in my nature to have a true-opinion on many matters. While I can conjure an opinion on just about anything within seconds and in the face of gaping ignorance and poor qualifications, an opinion that is likely to last me longer than the duration of a social engagement is another matter entirely.
But I am well qualified to form an opinion on treats: I am, like most slightly plump women, well experienced in this area. So, I do happen to have a relatively long standing opinion on cupcakes (and how delightful that it happens to smack of contrariness). Here it goes: my hope is that this post might spark conversation and play some subtle role in overthrowing the cup-cake from its illegitimate reign over other far more dignified and refined confectionery. Or in “slacktivist” terms: I hope to “promote awareness” to the terrible wrong of our unending reverence for the cup-cake. Too long have we endured this tyranny. Death to the Cup-Cake! (Long live the Tart).