Monday, December 13, 2010

Pastry Sculpture Class

I'm enrolled in a pastry sculpture class where we eat what we make. Each class is devoted to making a specific item out of pastry. The sculpture is supposed to be something that is troubling, bothersome, or connected to some kind of life stumbling block. Once our work is completed, it is baked, decorated, then consumed. It's the latest therapeutic trend. The star of the class, Denise Higley, said it helped her deal with her job as a school bus driver. She made and ate a good-sized yellow school bus during every session (she also put on quite a bit of weight during the process, but as Chef Garth, our pastry therapist says, "Everything has a price").

Most people make miniature versions of childhood houses, old schools, and such. My specialty is making miniature versions of people I dislike, but I find it disturbing to eat them so I bring them home. This flies in the face of the class goals (which is to devour your demons), but when I look at the little people I've made, I often begin to take their side, and generally come to the conclusion that it is me, and not they, who is troublesome. The figures wait patiently on a special shelf in my tiki room and, though some mock me in their own silent way, others appear worried about their fate.

My creations don't speak (I'm not crazy) but one, the "salty waitress at the diner," changes positions ever so slightly when I'm out of the room and is gradually developing a scornful demeanor. Not that I'm afraid or anything, but it is cause for concern.

Another one, the chubby Mr. Waldron, my creepy 7th grade science teacher with the slicked-back Dracula-hair, is still creepy enough that I avoid looking at him, and in fact, in honor of his own ineffective and hurtful disciplinary technique, I'm ignoring him and have faced him towards the wall. What goes around, comes around, I like to say.

Then there's the series of pretty girls who ignored me in high school. This is a very large grouping, and I had to build another shelf in order to accommodate their growing numbers, as each class session yields another one or two (the cheerleaders keep to themselves in a small huddle, and in their pastry-selves, as in high school, they don't mingle with the other girls).

One evening, before class began, Chef Garth pulled me aside and said it was necessary of me to eat one of my works in front of the class, as my lack of consumption was undermining the direction of the therapy. Apparently, a few of the more emotionally-fragile class members had stopped baking entirely. So, to boost the spirit of the class to dizzying heights, I made a pastry version of Narrow Bob, a self-important co-worker who makes disparaging remarks about hippies, and is a primary suspect in the taffy apple theft from my lunch. To show my displeasure with his world-view, I crafted his head upon David Crosby's body, complete with long hair, a bushy mustache, and a fringe jacket. And I molded his two fingers into the "peace sign." It was, perhaps, my finest work, and rivaled in size to one of Denise's school buses.

When Narrow Bob was pulled from the oven and properly frosted, I gave a little speech about what kind of a person he was, and promptly bit off a hunk of his mustache. The class applauded, and in a moment of glorious abandonment, I gestured toward the figure and welcomed everyone to dig in. I don't know if it was the rich butter-cream frosting, their sympathy with me, or their dislike for Narrow Bob, but they proceeded to dig at Bob like jackals on an antelope carcass. In a matter of a few minutes, Bob was nothing but a few crumbs on a cookie sheet.

Once home, my celebrity subsided and I was able to reflect on the effectiveness of the therapy. I felt a little sorry for Narrow Bob and managed to save some of his crumbs. But I'm still not eating my collection of pastry figures (even though I promised Chef Garth I'd begin a little nibbling in my spare time). I've grown accustomed to their presence and would miss them if they were gone. Instead, I made a mental note to ask the paint guy at Lou's Hardware if he could recommend a high quality marine varnish that would preserve pastry for an extended period of time.

And I placed Bob's crumbs on my display shelf, which I believe, shows some progress. When I look at the little pile of Bob crumbs, I think of him as Crummy Bob, and he doesn't seem so menacing.