Sunday, March 27, 2011

There's Birthday Cake Somewhere

I overheard a man utter the following words in a bar the other day “There's birthday cake somewhere.” I wasn't sure what he was trying to allude to at the time, and since then it has not become any clearer. As always, I attempted to focus my ear's eye on his further commentary, but was left was nothing to clarify the previous remark. I eventually took a different seat in the bar to get a better view of him. I had a mental picture of this man as an overweight and slightly perspiring man in his fifties. My imagination did not fail me. He was about 250 pounds of sweat-stained-collared middle age male. He had on paisley tie that was loosened after a day of white collar work, an off-white colored button up shirt and a pair of mustard-colored khaki pants. His drink of choice was a Scotch on the rocks with a splash of water (manly enough).

His friends were in much better shape then he, and the energy at their table was that of a group of business associates blowing off some steam. By this time they had consumed one or two too many alcoholic libations. The other men poked fun at him, and one of them produced a child's police badge and pinned it to his shirt pocket. I did not understand why he had such a thing readily available, and furthermore why he felt the need to attach it to the clothed breast of his overweight friend.

I didn't spend much more time listening to their conversation once I overheard the word “debrief.” There are only two options for discourse such as that. 1) They were lawyers and what was sure to follow would have included legal jargon that I could not understand nor would I care to and 2) the next term would be “de-boxer” or “de-panty” and the mental images would have caused me to regurgitate the $5.00 Vodka and Cranberry I had recently imbibed. Neither of those options seemed like a welcomed set of events. Luckily for me, and probably for them, the man to which this focus all began sprang from his chair and hurried from the bar and out onto the street. Before I had a chance to see which direction he went, he was gone.

I went back to the line, “There's birthday cake somewhere.” It had a ring to it that seemed poetic on one hand, and desperate on the other. I thought at first that he might be a Weird Al Yankovic fan, and this was his parody of the Alan Jackson song “It's 5 O'clock Somewhere.” Was this sweaty Lawyer-turned lyricist trying out his latest attempt to make it big on the parody music scene? In his mind he was far wittier and talented than his looks and socio-economic status would preclude. I visualized his iPod playlist being filled with Weird Al's “I'm Fat” Tenacious D's “Wonderboy” and any assortment of Flight of the Conchords' tunes. He would sit up until all hours of the night drinking whiskey, and filling notebooks with pun-filled lyrics he had conjured up while commuting to and from the office. He would snicker to himself in his home office just loud enough to create a belly jiggle, but not loud enough to wake up “the wife and kids.” He would drift off into dreams of grandeur. No longer would he work a nine-to-five job where he had to put on a suit and tie. No, he would be mingling with the parody music elite at some late night after-party over at Jack Black's house. There would be other comedians trying out their material on one another to get approval from those they appreciate the most, their peers. Jack would be overacting by the punch bowl, while Lorne Michaels and Tina Fey looked on in horror. He would approach the SNL power-duo and ask them if there was any cake at the party. Tina and Lorne, shrugging their shoulders at first, then asking who they hell he was. He would ignore their question and get right to it. In the tune of Alan Jackson he would sing, “Well, there's birthday cake somewhere.” The entire party would turn and look at him, and a wave of laughter would erupt in the room. Jack Black, Weird Al, Jemaine and Bret from Flight of the Conchords, Lorne, and Tina would all be laughing hysterically now. Unfortunately, he would quickly come to realize that the laughter was not for him or even with him, it was laughter pointed directly at him. Even in his wildest dreams, he was not funny.

However, in my wildest dreams, he was not a parody musician or even a wannabe. I pictured this sweaty, out of shape and obviously unimpressive man was a lawyer by day and superhero by night. His sense of smell would have been heightened to epic proportions during an unfortunate wafting accident in his eight-grade chemistry class. The vapors from an experiment involving methyl alcohol were the culprit, and the ability to literally smell danger would be the result. It wasn't until this fateful day many years later did it finally hit him that he was indeed “special.”

Those many years after the wafting accident, he just thought he was constantly surrounded by an assortment of strong odors. One day, while he sipped his 12 year single malt Scotch that to him was filled with hints of oak and trace levels of flora, it occurred to him that he had a gift. The cigar smoke he picked up from the fibers of his friends' shirts, the flatulence he sensed from the woman sitting uncomfortably on a bar stool thirty feet from him, and the sweet smell of red velvet birthday cake all danced in his nostrils. But where is this birthday cake? He did not see one, but his nose did not lie. He must know where this birthday cake was, and he must have a slice. “There's birthday cake somewhere!” he would exclaim. And off into the dusk he would waddle.

Following the scent, he would wander through the sparse crowd and into an office building down the street. There, he would be met by a sight to which he was not prepared. A robbery was in progress at a local bank. The employees were all gathered there after closing time to celebrate the anniversary of one of their most beloved friends and coworkers. However, the party was quickly put on hold when this miscreant had barged in on them. Drenched in sweat from his quarter-mile trek to the origin of the scent, he stood eye to eye with the armed assailant. A stand off ensued, and the sweat running down the neck of the “hero” was equaled by the sweat of the assailant. Not because the stature of the man standing before him was intimidating, but merely due to the fact that at a distance of twenty paces, the plastic toy badge he had yet to remove from his shirt looked rather official. The assailant ran through the lobby of the bank and disappeared. The birthday revelers breathed a sigh of relief and thanked their moistened savior with cheers of appreciation, clammy handshakes, a few uncomfortable hugs, and finally with a slice of red velvet cake.

“The Schnoz” as he would consequently be known, would fight crime across the great metropolitan areas of Bradenton and Sarasota with his “Nostrils of Justice.” Unfortunately, his only superpower would be his sense of smell. He quickly realized that once he encountered an actual crime, his inability to do anything about it became a hindrance. If his plastic police badge or sweat-stained-collar could not subvert the criminal activity, he would need to produce his “Blackberry of Benevolence” to alert the real authorities. Thus, his role as the middle-man with a nose of gold was solidified. It sure beat his old life though. He was much happier as an overweight midwife to heroism than he ever was as the overweight lawyer who dreamed of becoming the next Weird Al Yankovic.

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