My mother tried to tell me a couple of days ago that birthdays carry less relevance as one advances in age. I responded with … a sound. It was kind of a hum, kind of an “eh,” but it meant “I don’t want to argue this over the phone, Mom, but you’re wrong.”
My take: Birthdays carry more, as the odds increase every year that it’s going to be your last. Think about it: Do you want your last birthday to be spent at home with Papa John’s and three hours of Netflix, or (even worse) at work?! You do you, but my birthday weekends will take a month to recover from so long as I live to have them.
Back to Mom. “Ironic” probably isn’t the right word for this, but her lasagna (my favorite birthday meal as a child) was the inspiration for my latest Fat Pants Friday project. It rolled out two days before my 35th birthday, and it symbolized one of the best weekends of my life.
You know what, screw it: Everyone else uses “ironic” wrong.
Isn’t that ironic? Don’t you think?
WHAT IS THAT?! It was called “Frank’s Birthday Cake.” I’m narcissistic this time of year, so what.
TOP TO BOTTOM: It was lasagna gone Hulk: egg, fried onions, asparagus, pulled pork, pork belly, mac-n-cheese, cheese curds, cheddar fondue, meat sauce, Swiss cheese, all within lasagna noodles. Angel doubled mine up by adding two hamburger patties and more fried onions.
HEIGHT: Look at it. It was nearly as tall as a damn steak knife.
WEIGHT: I broke a sweat holding it up for pictures. No joke.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT: Not only did 6Smith sell out of the public supply less than three hours after release, not only were all 15 saved for my party spoken for, two late-comers even missed out.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION: I’m still living to be 100, but the hot nurse changing my diapers when I’m 100 is going to have a hell of a time turning me over.
WHO’S WITH ME: There were about 20 of us, mostly to celebrate the moving-on of a co-worker. I hope this wasn’t the last I’ve seen of him; but, if it was, I did my damnedest to make sure he got the closing act he deserved. My wife was there, too, and Eliot had come down from Hibbing.
SHOW SHELBY THE MONEY: Service was impossibly good. I’m pretty sure she was actually a team of quadruplets that night.
WHAT’CHA DRINKING?: Remember what I said about taking a month to recover? The weekend had begun the night before, yada yada yada, I’ll just milk this here whiskey sipper.
STRATEGY: On the biggest stage, at this snazzily-dressed-up table, in front of the whooole bar, after Chef Angel stopped over twice, while servers and frequent patrons I knew cycled through to say hi, I poked my finger through the proverbial toilet paper.
I didn’t eat anything all day, then nibbled a side of fries. That side of fries left me bordering on full before the Pants even got to me. I managed half and tapped out.
It was a big half, no doubt, but half nonetheless. HALF. The repercussions were harsh. Angel pretended to not know me. Eliot shook his head until it damn near screwed off his neck. My wife started a Tinder account, and had swiped right on three guys by the time the bills came.
Eliot was the first to finish. “I’m the only Iron Ranger here,” he said. “I gotta show these City folk how it’s done.” So, he did.
Shortly after, my wife emptied her bowl. It was the second time she finished one and I didn’t.
After another 10-15 minutes, the first of my co-workers finished. He was a few seats down. The biggest finish, though, was the young lady sitting next to my wife. She spent nearly an hour poking at her Cake’s dwindling remains before making her decisive statement: “I’ve had a six-pound baby in here. I CAN DO THIS!”
So, she did … and just when the meat sweats began tricking down from the table’s collective brow, my real cake came out.
During “Happy Birthday,” Chef Angel poured a small kettle of caramel on top, then poured another kettle of chocolate syrup. The whipped cream, that’s not the crap you spray out of an aerosol bottle; no, this is the real deal. The flavor profile featured chocolate, espresso, chocolate, unadulterated joy, chocolate, chocolate, “I’ve got an ice cream headache but eff it I’m going back in,” and chocolate. The base was a solid fudge; chocolate chips were laid out in the middle.
Our server told stories of naive souls who don’t take her word for it when she tells them it’s big.
“I’ll have three people want to order one for themselves,” she said. “They’re like, ‘no, we can handle it’ … then it comes out and they’re shell-shocked.”
This is an $18 slice of cake, at a restaurant where very few things are made in accordance to suggested serving amounts. Come now.
This went up and down the table twice, to a few people a third time, and was finally gobbled up by our corner after countless pushes and goads. We all passed out and died, as a team. The end.