Sunday was Mother’s Day. If you’re a mother, or have a mother you probably celebrated. Which pretty much means, if my reasoning is correct, everyone was celebrating since most humans have a mother. Except Mr. Levenhall down at the bakery. He’s a different animal. So he says.
“I don’t celebrate Mother’s Day,” he told me on Sunday while I was picking up a cake for a friend’s birthday. “I was hatched.”
I nodded. He said it like he meant it. No wry smile or indication he was pulling my maternal leg. I waited for him to laugh. He didn’t.
“Everybody’s got a mama,” I said. “Maybe you don’t celebrate, but it isn’t because you don’t have a mama.”
“I’m telling you I don’t have no mama,” he said, turning red and flicking the big cake knife he always carries, even when he’s not at the cake shop. Perhaps I shouldn’t argue with a man who was hatched and carries a foot-long knife, but it was just wrong not to admit your own mama. And I told him so.
“I was born in a chicken house down in Mississippi,” he said. “My grandpaw raised me. He said I didn’t have no mama. He never lied to me that I know of, so I reckon I was hatched.”
By now I was pretty sure this was just his Southern iconoclastic nature being belligerent. So I changed the subject to cake batter.
“What’s the best kind of cake batter?” I said.
“Depends,” he said. “Birthday cakes are light since you have one every year. So I go easy on them. Wedding cakes are thick and heavy. You get married just once. You can afford a little unhealthy icing.”
“You ever make a MoonPie cake?” I asked.
“I have,” he said. “Made one for a retirement party. This old boy down at the box factory was hanging it up after 29 years. Must have been about a year ago. He wanted a MoonPie cake, so I made him one. Used twenty-eight chocolate MoonPies. Chopped them up and used them in the decoration.”
I looked back in his kitchen and saw a bunch of eggshells in the trashcan. This hit me a little funny from a man who claimed to be hatched.
“So how do you explain those eggshells over there in the trash?” I said, “You being hatched and all?”
He turned slowly and dropped his head. “I reckon that makes me a cannibal,” he said.