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Party foul, or reason for jihad?
June 8, 2009 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Party foul, or unforgivable etiquette breach?

My best friend was having a birthday party, and my present to her this year was going to be a decorated cake. (Sorry, no pictures of the finished cake...reason to follow.)

So, for about two weeks, I got ready for this cake; trying different recipes to get the flavor she wanted (it was a chai spice butter cake, with hazelnut cream cheese icing), I made tons of sugar flowers, flow-in butterflies, fondant bees, etc.,etc. Most of the cake parts had to be transported separately, because these things don't travel well, so I drove down (about 4 hours) to the party a half a day early to put the cake together, which took another 3 hours.

The birthday girl wanted to cut her cake after the pot luck dinner, and after everyone had a chance to go swimming.

I came in from the pool, and found that one of the guests...known for her rather tacky behavior, had disassembled the cake...put the sugar flowers all over the house, and had taken what looked like a huge handful of cake out of the cake itself. I didn't even get a chance to take a picture of the final cake, the birthday girl didn't get a chance to cut her cake, and nobody else at the party got the experience of the whole cake ritual. (singing happy birthday, etc.)

I was furious. Livid, even. My exact words were "What the hell is wrong with you? Were you raised by wild animals? Under what circumstances does this qualify as acceptable behavior?"

The woman who did all the damage ran out crying, and her husband came in to berate me for making his wife cry. At which point, I just threw up my hands and walked away. Now, keep in mind, these are not kids. These people are all over 40.

I feel like I have every right to be angry that some twit destroyed my present and hours and hours and hours of work, and that I should never have to do anything but be country-club polite to her ever again. (Yes, I know that it is a particularly vicious female tactic. I only use it when jihad seems too kind.)

Other people say that it was an egregious party foul, but given that the person is socially clueless and inept, that I should forgive and forget. (Other than randomly seeing this twit at parties, I have no contact with her, and I'm not demanding that anyone else stop seeing her, I'm just saying that I will no longer be friendly to her, especially since she feels like she shouldn't have to apologize "because I yelled at her". )

So, your opinions: Am I over-reacting to an egregious party foul?
posted by dejah420 to Human Relations (173 answers total) 102 users marked this as a favorite
 
No. She was being a twit and her husband was being a twit.
posted by kldickson at 9:44 AM on June 8, 2009 [24 favorites]


You worked long and hard on the cake(which looks amazing!) for the benefit of your friend. I think that's obvious from the pictures. You have every right to be angry, and I don't think you're overreacting. Jokes and pranks are great fun, but you don't wreck something that someone put a lot of effort into (or anything else, for that matter). You say she's a proven twit, so I say banish her from your life as best you can.
posted by zerokey at 9:47 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Doesn't sound like you over reacted at all. Taking apart a birthday cake before its recipient gets to enjoy it is weird and totally inappropriate in all cases, unless you're a.) under five, b.) developmentally disabled, or c.) a dog.

I'm a big fan of providing and receiving feedback, and unless you yelled or screamed it or used nasty names that you're not repeating here, what you said was perfect. Her husband should have apologized to you.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:48 AM on June 8, 2009 [64 favorites]


BTW, holy crap what a cool looking cake!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:48 AM on June 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


Say... was alcohol involved?

But yeah, she acted like a clod. She thought she was being funny and she just really underscored how socially awkward and rude she is.

You're right to stew over it for a while and unless you guys were super close in the first place, I wouldn't bother trying to be anything but country club nice to her. Tolerate her in situations where you have to. I don't think you need to apologize, if anything, she should. Alas, she won't because she's a clod.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:49 AM on June 8, 2009


At the very least she owes the birthday girl an apology. She may be tacky and lacking in social awareness, but who the hell doesn't know that everyone sings Happy Birthday before anyone gets to have a piece?
posted by iconomy at 9:49 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Being socially inept is no excuse for being an asshole. I don't think you over reacted at all and considering that she never apologized I'd say you're being more than fair to even continue to socialize with her.
posted by fshgrl at 9:49 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I vote jihad.
posted by nasreddin at 9:49 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unless she's actually mentally handicapped, which may be possible, you can yell at her.
posted by GuyZero at 9:49 AM on June 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


a. you're right to be righteously angry
b. it was just a cake

My point here is one of taking perspective. On one level you have been seriously offended, insulted, abused by another's "inept social cluelessness". On another level, this is the kind of thing that gets a big laugh in a movie or a sitcom.

Is there not a box that you could be thinking outside of here?
posted by philip-random at 9:50 AM on June 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


FWIW, I might have said something to the effect of 'Fuck off, you overgrown two-year-old, what adult takes a giant chunk with their hand out of the cake and scatters the decorations all over the house? Bet you're not toilet-trained, either!'

But that's what I'd say; YMMV.
posted by kldickson at 9:50 AM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh please. If another 9 year old did this to my kid's cake I wouldn't let him come over anymore. Unless "Socially Inept" = "Mental Illness."
posted by artychoke at 9:51 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't think anybody can logically fault you for your reaction. The woman who did the deed should be ashamed of herself. I guess the *right* thing to do would be to take the culprit aside and berate her *quietly*, but honestly, I don't think I'd be able to hold myself back. Good grief.
posted by katillathehun at 9:51 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Um, disassembling a cake, putting pieces of it around the house and grabbing chunks out of it is something a very small child would do. THAT would be a party foul on behalf of her parents, IF SHE WERE 4 OR 5. Since she's far from being 4 or 5 and not mentally handicapped from your description, it's a really bad thing to do to you and your friend, and i say you're more than justified to behave however you want to her.
posted by amethysts at 9:51 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Taking apart a birthday cake before its recipient gets to enjoy it is weird and totally inappropriate in all cases, unless you're a.) under five, b.) developmentally disabled, or c.) a dog.

That's dead on. I mean, seriously, what the hell IS wrong with this person that they felt like that was appropriate behavior?

To echo M.C. Lo-Carb!, I don't know what else you may have said that may have been unforgivably nasty, but I'll assume you would have put that in the question. All of us would love to be able to keep a cool head in all circumstances and address wrongs effectively and yadda yadda yadda, but seriously, wtf? If it was me, she would have been lucky if I hadn't belted her and her dipshit husband.
posted by dubitable at 9:52 AM on June 8, 2009


Both? I have no friends like this, for good reason, but I do know a few and they bring out the worst in me. Personally, I would have probably slipped straight into a finely wrought fury of verbal character assassination. I would have then yelled at the husband for enabling her almost pathological need to have her compulsive little hands destroying everyone else's carefully made plans like some errant child who's parents insist that orange soda is the only thing their child will drink. But, I as I did this, I would have also realized that nothing good would come of it, and that it would reveal as much about my own anger and intolerance issues as it does my sobbing victim. And I would probably be okay with that, but then I'm somewhat a fan of the smell of scorched earth.
posted by mrmojoflying at 9:52 AM on June 8, 2009 [15 favorites]


What she did was on purpose, and it was insanely rude and childish.

What you did by shouting at her may have been an overreaction, but you were responding in the heat of the moment.

She is by far the bigger asshole here. I might fauxpologize here, as in "I am sorry I snapped at you, but what you did was really inappropriate and out of line, so I just lost it."
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:53 AM on June 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


OK, I'll say it. She's an asshole. Sounds like she and her husband are perfect for each other. No, you're not out of line. You worked really hard and some asshole comes and messes up what in reality is a piece of artwork? Hell, no. And even if this person is clueless and inept, that doesn't give her license to continue on her merry fucking way of acting like an asshole. Maybe this was the call out she needs, since no one else seems willing to do it. Good for you for not fuckin' clockin' her one.
posted by December at 9:53 AM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Unless this woman is mentally handicapped in some way, there is no excuse for her childish behavior.

Maybe you'll luck out and she'll be too afraid to ever come near you again!
posted by orme at 9:53 AM on June 8, 2009


Ordinarily, I would suspect that after making her cry, she's likely to fearfully/embarrassedly avoid you in subsequent interactions, so you wouldn't have any reason to be icy to her in the future.

On the other hand, her lack of apology seems to indicate that she doesn't know she behaved poorly. Perhaps you should try to make her cry again, being more vicious and deliberate this time.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:53 AM on June 8, 2009 [36 favorites]


Personally, I'm a forgive and forget person because in my experience holding grudges just has negative consequences (including for me) and nothing positive ever comes out of it. I would probably be friendly to her but not trust her alone with a cake. I don't think you did anything wrong by yelling at her though, and she and her husband are definitely to blame for their behavior.

One thing you didn't mention that I think is important though is how your best friend feels about it. It was her cake, and presumably the person who ruined it was her friend too. If she's more forgiving about it than you, she might feel bad that her party created a major rift between two of her friends.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:53 AM on June 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


If she wasn't four years old, she should have known better than to tuck into a birthday cake before the birthday girl, and even if she's four years old, she should have realized that a cake at a birthday party is a birthday cake. Yes, you should yell at anyone who isn't a toddler who sabotages your hard work and someone else's birthday present.

This lady and her husband are either unforgivably rude or mentally ill - not someone you want to hang with.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:53 AM on June 8, 2009


I think apologies are a catch-22: if you think you deserve one, you don't. Don't apologize to her, don't be friendly towards her, let her deal with her behavior herself.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:54 AM on June 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


No way, you are not overacting. Her behavior was bizarre and incosiderate. I think your reaction was completely understandable in this situation. I agree that you shouldn't go out of your way to be friendly to this couple.
posted by Fairchild at 9:54 AM on June 8, 2009


You shouldn't forgive, but you should forget since this idiot isn't worth your prolonged anger.
posted by spec80 at 9:55 AM on June 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Another vote for your being in the clear. She's a jerk. Before we medicalized being an asshole, the village asshole was the village asshole and they were treated as such. I don't care if she has "poor social skills." She needs to learn there are consequences for behaviors. Animals with two neurons in their central nervous systems can learn cause and effect. And this woman is over 40? She simply has never had to be responsible for her own behavior (witness: husband).
posted by Punctual at 9:55 AM on June 8, 2009 [13 favorites]


She significantly damaged something she had no right to touch (I won't even get into the sanitation aspects of this), and feels no need to apologize for it? You are not overreacting. I can't imagine interacting with someone so immature that they don't understand BASIC social etiquette.
posted by yawper at 9:56 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh hell no. You didn't overreact, she was an idiot, her husband was an idiot, and I think "country-club polite" is the appropriate reaction.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:57 AM on June 8, 2009


Forgive? You should have these people committed. The husband included.
posted by mullacc at 9:57 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


What did the friend whose birthday it was think?

I would have yelled at the cake destroyer as well. I cannot fathom what she may have been thinking of. Socially inept doesn't cover this, it sounds like she may be mentally handicapped, as others said. The "doesn't think she has to apologise, because you yelled at her" bit suggests some serious social/mental stunting, as well. Ignore her whenever possible. Expect that she'll do more stupid things, and soon alientate more of the mutal friends.
posted by kellyblah at 9:58 AM on June 8, 2009


philip-random, On another level, this is the kind of thing that gets a big laugh in a movie or a sitcom.

Yes, and this is exactly the sort of real-world situation that shows how bizarre sitcom situations really are. If you're saying that somehow, this is acceptable "because it could happen on TV" I think that is absurd. dejah420 was truly wronged here--it's not about a cake, it's about the amount of work she put into it, the fact that it was a gift for a friend, part of the ritual of this important day, and the fact is that this person violated all of it to fulfill some selfish need for attention (or perhaps something else, the more I think about it the more bizarre and mental-illness-y it seems).
posted by dubitable at 9:58 AM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Eminently grudge-worthy.
posted by Marnie at 9:58 AM on June 8, 2009


b. it was just a cake

Sure, it's "just a cake", but dejah420 spent 2 weeks on the crafting of this. Even though the cake was meant to be eaten, the greatest value was the gift of the presentation, so in that sense, this twit destroyed the gift before its purpose was realized. To me, that's the same as your painting being vandalized right before the gallery opening and is a pretty big deal.
posted by zerokey at 9:58 AM on June 8, 2009 [31 favorites]


*Hugs* dejah420. What you did was entirely understandable. What she did was not; nor was the knee jerk response of her idiot husband. Just shrug and move on. Next time the socially challenged pair are at the same gathering, you could always ask quietly for an apology explaining the time and trouble you took in making a cake for your friend but I expect that might only fan the flames. If you wanted a full on firestorm you could ask for an apology slightly more publiicly.
posted by adamvasco at 9:58 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


She would be wearing the remainder of the cake if it were me. "Yes, your honour. I was trying to shove the fondant bees up her nose."

Good for you on calling her out. Some people forget that they are NOT the centre of the world and need to be told from time to time.

Nice cake, by the way.
posted by thejimp at 9:58 AM on June 8, 2009 [17 favorites]


I don't even understand how someone would put the flowers all over the house? Or take a handful of cake?
posted by smackfu at 9:58 AM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Clearly what she did was way out of line - I would have said some worse things to her than you did. But you should drop it - you don't have to be best friends with her, but if you're regularly at the same social events everyone else there will soon get sick of you being passive-aggressive over the cake.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:59 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


People have mentioned mental illness and the behavior of children.
I really wonder if there's actually something wrong with her. Maybe some small strokes or something?
Seriously, it was pretty inappropriate.
posted by j at 10:00 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't even be country-club polite.
posted by kldickson at 10:00 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


For a while, anyway.
posted by kldickson at 10:00 AM on June 8, 2009


(that is - country-club polite seems okay to me.)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:01 AM on June 8, 2009


"What the hell is wrong with you? Were you raised by wild animals? Under what circumstances does this qualify as acceptable behavior?"

That is pitch-perfect, as far as I'm concerned. Good for you.

Also: christ, what an asshole.
posted by rokusan at 10:02 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


The only way that children learn what is acceptable or not is to run into consequences. Ican't tell you whether or not to forgive and forget, but you did make her cry. I don't mean, "you should feel bad, because you made her cry." I mean, "that's awesome, you made her cry!" Perhaps you could take that as a moral victory and move on. Speaking as someone who has certainly held a grudge over the years, I will warn you, it can tend to make you look less the aggrieved party and more the asshole. Years from now, people will ask, "what's the deal with deja and Twit?" And the answer will be The Great Bee Cake Fiasco of 2009. If I made the rules Twit and Mr. Twit would both apologize to you, but you don't want the rest of your friends to see you as an ogress.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:02 AM on June 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


I can't even come up with a rationale that makes sense... why would someone think that's a good idea? Was she drunk? I would suggest a slightly different approach - why not call her up and say, "You know, I spent a lot of time on that cake, and I don't understand why you disassembled it. It would mean a lot to me if you apologized, and also, why on earth would you think that was a good idea?"

Some people are social twits because they have never been told that their behavior is not okay, (in a non-confrontational way that makes sense to them) rather than because they are innately twit-like. If she can't comprehend why tearing up a cake you worked on for hours is frustrating, country-club polite may not register as a negative reaction.
posted by dubold at 10:02 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


...and had taken what looked like a huge handful of cake out of the cake itself.

Just to clarify: did she literally use her hand to scoop out a chunk of cake? Because that is truly bizarre and mind-boggling behavior for an adult. It's almost as bizarre as the poop-smearers.
posted by mullacc at 10:04 AM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


burnmp3s is on to something. I agree that no one above the age of about three should be tearing into someone else's birthday cake before the candles are lit, but how does your friend the birthday girl feel about things? She might be just as mad at you for making a scene at her party.

Next year, store bought. :)
posted by MegoSteve at 10:06 AM on June 8, 2009


No, seriously - is she developmentally disabled?
posted by tristeza at 10:06 AM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait why did she do it? Because she was hungry, or because she thought it would be funny, or because she hates you or something?
posted by jon_kill at 10:06 AM on June 8, 2009


Her behavior just seems bizarre, I don't even get what she was trying to do by putting the flowers all over the house. It doesn't really sound like she was trying to play a joke, but maybe she was.

I don't think you overreacted, you had a right to be angry, but you didn't totally lose it which is good. I would just let it go and limit your interactions with her.
posted by whoaali at 10:06 AM on June 8, 2009


Yes, the more responses I read the more I wonder if she did not over medicate, or perhaps mix the happy pills with the drink. Who knows what her husband said to *her* once they left the party. Good grief.
posted by mrmojoflying at 10:07 AM on June 8, 2009


Your reaction was correct - if anything a bit under what I would have done.

Being socially inept means not being sure when to RSVP or what order to shake hands in. Destroying a cake like that borders on behavior I'd expect from a badly socialized animal.
posted by strixus at 10:07 AM on June 8, 2009


Nothing much to add, but you were fully within your rights. She absolutely destroyed your present, and as it happened, left the party without a cake to enjoy in the process. If there was ever a time to yell at someone in such a manner, it was this.

You might apologize to the host of the party for losing your temper (she will probably tell you that it's not you who needs to apologize, but it's still graceful to do so), but between you and the cake-wrecker, she owes you a huge apology. Until a genuine apology is forthcoming, you owe her nothing more than the same politeness you'd offer a stranger.
posted by explosion at 10:08 AM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, to be fair; the birthday girl was not an incensed as I was. She's a very mellow, very zen sort of human...which is why she and I have been friends for 25 years...as I am neither zen nor mellow...and there's disagreement about the human part at times...

She's a lot more forgiving of her friends than I am of her friends.

I had to call my mom from the party, because as an executive chef, I knew she would have dealt with people doing stupid stuff to her gorgeous creations, so my poor mom gets a midnight phone call about a cake catastrophe. Bless her heart; she sympathized, but then told me to put on my happy face and go serve the rest of the cake.

I was pretty much over it, until this morning, when I realized I didn't have any pictures of the finished cake, which got me hostile all over again, and when I said something about it to my best friend she was all "Well, you just have to understand it was a party foul, those happen." And my opinion is that spilling someone's beer is a party foul, destroying 2 weeks of work because you think you're being funny is not a party foul, it's the sign of a rampaging fool.
posted by dejah420 at 10:10 AM on June 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


People do that because they envy the present you are bringing. No accident. Act accordingly.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:10 AM on June 8, 2009 [37 favorites]


This is so unacceptable and bizarre that I would say the woman probably is insane. I wouldn't be angry at her forever, and I wouldn't refuse to go somewhere where she's going to be, but I would never invite her to anything, or take my eyes off her for a second if she was near my stuff. (And don't apologize, of course. Well, maybe apologize to your other friends, for losing your temper with a child.)
posted by equalpants at 10:11 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Along with everyone else, I agree, she was absolutely horrible. Children know better. You were in no way overreacting.

I was wondering if you would consider sharing that recipe? Chai spice butter cake sounds amazing.
posted by teragram at 10:12 AM on June 8, 2009


If someone did this to a cake Id spent so much time on I would have been just as pissed but I wouldnt have yelled at the person due to spinelessness. Well done. You avoided the regret of not telling someone off.
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 10:13 AM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


What the? This is one of the oddest posts I've seen on the Green. Not because your response was odd, but because, I mean, what? She did what? It doesn't even make sense, as others have noted. This is, in my opinion, the equivalent of pooping in the sink and being like, "Well, I couldn't find the bathroom." I, too, am interested to hear what your friend thinks of this woman. Personally, I feel like I am really good at not holding grudges, of keeping things in perspective, and of forgiving/forgetting and moving on. Life's too short. However, I'm also capable of going nuclear every once in awhile (I ascribe to the adage "Don't burn bridges; nuke 'em!") and I would completely cut this person out of my life in every conceivable way. I might even be tempted to write a letter asking for an explanation and an apology and clearly state that you have never, ever, been so offended and shocked by an adult's behavior. Seriously, what the hell? I almost think this might be a joke except for the pictures of the cake which, by the way, looks excellent. I would also mail her a receipt of the costs of the cake, including labor, and a return address where she can write the cake. She effed up what was rightly yours, which you were giving to your friend. She needs to compensate for it.
posted by billysumday at 10:14 AM on June 8, 2009 [31 favorites]


That was not just a party foul. She ruined your cake purposely, who knows why, my guess is to take away the attention from it and focus it on her. I would never talk to this person again nor acknowledge their existence unless they apologized profusely. But I also wouldn't let her existence dictate any portion of my life (wouldn't avoid events where she was, etc).

I would also be interested in the cake recipe, and your pre-photos look wonderful, so great job despite an idiot ruining the final presentation :)
posted by Meagan at 10:16 AM on June 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


The woman who did all the damage ran out crying,

Good.

and her husband came in to berate me for making his wife cry.

Unfortunate but not unexpected. It sounds like he will defend and enable even the worst behavior, so you just gotta accept that part - it's his wife.

But it was a gorgeous cake, and I can't imagine a non-retarded person destroying it for any rational reason. You have nothing to apologize for.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:17 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Er, write the CHECK, not write the "cake." I have cake on the brain. Ask her to reimburse you for the costs associated with the cake, I would be interested to hear how she would defend herself from the notion that she was responsible for the destruction of the cake.
posted by billysumday at 10:17 AM on June 8, 2009


You did the right thing.
posted by demon666 at 10:18 AM on June 8, 2009


I'd call her up and yell at her again..
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:20 AM on June 8, 2009 [51 favorites]


Let us assume that this woman has a mental health issue. If her husband cares about her, he is going to need to see to it that she is supervised in social settings where she could commit such an outrageous foul. If he doesn't care, then he can't complain about the outcomes.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 10:21 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


That woman is a total crazed a-hole. Good for you for not slapping her up. You're a nice friend to have made the cake, which, if the pics of the other cake are any indication, must have been just gorgeous, and I hope everyone at least had a chance to see it and tell you how pretty it was before the psycho wrecked it. I cannot believe that happened, it's seriously insane.

I think an email to this woman is in order, detailing how many hours you spent on the cake, as you did here, and asking if there's some explanation for her behaviour. Along with some sort of request that she not stress out the b-day girl about it by whining about the email- this is between you & her. And unless she responds with a sincere revelation that she has some pitiable medical condition that makes her act like a friggin chimpanzee at pool parties, then I would never, ever talk to her again. Screw country club nice. Cold shoulder. (I am not all zen hippie like your friend. You mess with me, you're out. Some people deserve it.)

But also, try not to stress out your b-day friend about it any more; it's not her fault. She probably should comiscerate with you a little more, but it would be nice if this didn't become "the birthday when the cake got wrecked", you know? You might want to call her up in a day or so, and smooth things over, say nice things about the party, and try to let it go as far as she's concerned.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:24 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I'd've made that cake and something similar happened, I would have reacted in exactly the same way. She's an idiot. Her husband is an idiot for thinking that her behavior is okay, and if she can't behave in public she should stay home. You have nothing to apologize for, and country-club polite is all that should be expected. I wouldn't hold a grudge per se, but you cannot be expected to deal with such a ridiculous situation. What the hell? Who DOES that?
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:24 AM on June 8, 2009


it's the sign of a rampaging fool

It sounds to me like this person has some sort of socialization problem. It's just so hard to work out her motivation: was it, "I'll try to do something nice by decorating the house with the decorations that were on the cake. This seems like a good idea because I am tragically out of touch with societal norms" or maybe it was some variation on, "This thing is lovely and I am impressed and jealous and I don't know how to process those feelings or the adoration of the other people in this group towards this item so I will destroy it" or was it ham-handed track covering (went to touch a bee, it broke, so she went haywire on the cake in an attempt to take control of the situation by showing she MEANT to do it, because meaning to do something stupid is better than making a mistake)

I think, ultimately, the reason NONE of these make sense is that she is operating with some sort of faulty circuitry, so her motivations are opaque. You didn't overreact, but maybe try and see it as a tragic thing, like if it had fallen off the table or something. Mourn it, but don't carry anger about it. Because seriously, even if there was malice in her heart, she is clearly not able to act in a socially normal way, and I doubt she has any real control over it.

Beautiful cake, btw.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:25 AM on June 8, 2009 [53 favorites]


Cutting a piece of cake before the host, that would be rude behavior.

But what you describe... it's just insane. Rational adults, even assholes, do not do this. Recommend you relate to her not as your nemesis, but as someone who is deeply troubled.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:27 AM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


I would try to get over the fact that you spent so much time on the cake. It is disappointing and crazy, no doubt. It would have been equally as rude if the cake were Duncan Hines.

Your pictures of the unfinished cake are beautiful and since the birthday girl isn't too bent out of shape, I would try to let it go. Your friend might be right that this was a party foul. A party foul is poor judgement. Spilling beer is an accident. It's up to you to decide if the destroyer of the cake had malicious intent. It's bizarre and infuriating either way, and I wouldn't blame you if you never spoke two words to her again, but do try to understand your friend's point of view.

There will be more beautiful cakes.
posted by Fairchild at 10:29 AM on June 8, 2009


Yeah, I'm with the folks who think there must be some kind of developmental disability or mental illness going on here. I wonder if maybe it's a progressive deterioration, and the husband's come to assume some sort of caretaker/compensator/defender role.

That isn't to say that you overreacted. You didn't, at all, and you certainly don't have any obligation to be friendly to this person going forward. Your anger is more than justified. But do keep it in perspective-- it's quite possible that the issues that this person and her husband have are a whole lot bigger than the cake. (And the cake, with all the love, labor, and creativity you invested in it, is by no means a small thing.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:30 AM on June 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Your best friend is just trying to smooth things over. It may not be as satisfying a reaction as you'd hope for, but like you said, this is why you're friends with her, it doesn't mean she's rationalizing the other person's behavior.

You basically got to say everything you needed to say at the scene of the incident (good for you! This is more than most wronged people get). That said, it is now time to try and move on. You won't obtain anything satisfying by stewing about this or holding a grudge. Next year, when you make your best friend a whole NEW best-cake-ever, you need to be able to joke about this. It really might take all year to get to that point!
posted by hermitosis at 10:32 AM on June 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


Unless she can produce a note from her psychologist explaining what the fuck is wrong with her, that woman owes both you and your friend an apology and a damn cake. She needs to know that the cake took hours of your time and was not her cake to fuck with. (I'm not sure how you can get her to repay you for your time, practically speaking, but that's the way I see it.)

Given that people in your social circle are quick to let it slide, and that she's known for being a twit, and that it sounds like her husband attempted to get you to apologize to her, she might not quite have grasped that this sort of behavior is Not Okay and typically carries consequences.

That is a beautiful cake, btw, and I would be furious too.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:35 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Taking apart a birthday cake before its recipient gets to enjoy it is weird and totally inappropriate in all cases, unless you're a.) under five, b.) developmentally disabled, or c.) a dog.

This. The woman who destroyed your cake was an asshole. Her husband was a twit.

The best response, it seems to me, is to conclude that this woman is not worthy of your energy. She behaved badly, you told her so. But don't give her any power over you by gnawing over this forever. She's not worth it.
posted by ambrosia at 10:36 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


my opinion is that spilling someone's beer is a party foul, destroying 2 weeks of work because you think you're being funny is not a party foul, it's the sign of a rampaging fool.

Your host thinking it was a party foul is likely one of her outward manifestations of being zen about the whole thing. This can sometimes be difficult because you don't get to feel that your anger is totally righteous if even the birthday girl doesn't share it. I don't think she's telling you to think of it as "just" a party foul, but she probably also doesn't appreciate the two weeks of work you put into it because she's zen like that and you could have brought her a cupcake and she would have also been pleased. This is just me projecting, but that is my guess.

So. I think it was totally okay for you to be pissed off but that nothing is served by you continuing to be pissed off except increasing your own stress level and that holding on to this hurt is only going to affect you, not other people. It's not the terrible guest's fault that you didn't take a picture of the cake. It's not her fault that you worked for two weeks on something that was destroyed before it could be fully appreciated. It is her fault, directly, that she destroyed the cake and was a pain about it and is married to someoen who felt that it was then (insult to injury!) appropriate to gve you a hard time about it. That totally sucks. Sounds like you got to talk to your mom, who sympathized, and that may be where it has to end at this point. I am so sorry for what happend [as is, it seems, everyone else here].

I think you reacted appropriately, but even if you're totally correct that you were right and the other person was horrible, there's not much else you can do to bring this forward except to forgive, not forget and be the bigger person and lump them into a "people I am chillily nice to like the tax man and the police" category.
posted by jessamyn at 10:36 AM on June 8, 2009 [19 favorites]


I'm with Ironmouth. She did it on purpose for some weirdass crazed attention seeking maybe anger/revenge thing. In other words, she's batshit insane; what she did was unforgivable and staying away from her forever after sounds like a good plan. If you absolutely have to see her than, yes, country club polite at the very most. I'd be tempted to not even go that far but instead simply behave as if she doesn't exist. I would certainly not email her or contact her in any way, though.

And then, you have to let it go. It's going to be tough, but you can do it. Eventually you should be able to make this into an uproariously funny anecdote and that in itself is worth something.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:38 AM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Mullacc asks: Just to clarify: did she literally use her hand to scoop out a chunk of cake?

I don't know. That is how it appeared, but I suppose she could have just been inept in cutting that form of cake. (Tall and with a hole in the center. I used an angel food form.)

Various asked: No, really...is she developmentally disabled?

Not to the best of my knowledge.

Rational people have asked: WTH? Why?

Well, see...that's what got me so upset. I mean, what the hell? Why would anyone do that? It's beyond comprehension, isn't it?

teragram asked for a butter chai recipe:
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk that has had green tea steeped in it for 20 minutes or so. (strain the leaves)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup butter (real butter. room temp)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (real stuff)
  • 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons chai spice blend. (I make mine with cinnamon, clove, ginger, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, and a little black pepper.) This part is a totally "by taste" thing. Once the batter is mixed, add your spices until you get the flavor profile you seek.)
1.) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan, angelfood form, or two 9" cake pans.

2.) In a large bowl, mix the flour, 2 cups sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Blend in buttermilk, 1 cup of butter, 2 teaspoons of vanilla and 4 eggs. Beat for 3 minutes at medium speed. Add spices to taste, see above. Beat an additional minute to incorporate spices and a little air. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3.) Bake in preheated oven for 45-60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for at least 15 minutes to assure structural integrity.
Let it cool completely before sculpting, cutting or icing.

To all those who advocate a rational response, even in the face in inanity, I thank you. Sometimes it is difficult to remember that holding a grudge really doesn't serve any purpose other than giving you one more thing to stack in the "why I'm angry" cave.
posted by dejah420 at 10:39 AM on June 8, 2009 [361 favorites]


Yea, I don't understand how someone can do that. That sucks so much that this happened to you, I know how disappointing it feels to (1) put that much work into something and not get to enjoy the result the proper way and to take a picture of it and have it be ruined (2) to not have the birthday girl enjoy her birthday cake properly! Frustrating.

I wonder what the birthday girl thinks of it, because I would've been PISSED! Don't stress her out about it, but I really wonder how she feels about that friend now.

Sorry that you had to deal with this idiot. The cake looked amazing though, at least the birthday girl knows and appreciates how much effort you put into it!
posted by KateHasQuestions at 10:39 AM on June 8, 2009


Don't take this the wrong way, but is this truly what happened here? I ask because it's makes no sense at all. There's "socially clueless and inept" and then there's being retarded and there's doing this. Her actions literally makes no sense. I could see a child doing this or stealing one of the flowers or bees, but an adult? Not to excuse her behavior at all, but is there some animosity between the two of you? Between her and the birthday woman?

I also don't understand your question here: "Am I over-reacting to an egregious party foul"

Seriously, you know the answer to this, it just sounds like you're venting at this point and looking to create your own jihad against the offender. Mind you, I'm totally down with that, especially if you have any of these cupcakes left over. Hell, you could be totally wrong about something and I'd side with you for one two three of those cupcakes.

But long story short, if ever there was a time to say to another human what you said to her, THIS IS IT. Anyone who disagrees or trys to spout some "we should all try to be kind to one another" should shut the hell up and be sent to bed with no cupcakes.

So, about that recipe...?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:40 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


A note: That recipe uses all purpose flour, because it was going to have pounds of icing and decorations on it. If you want a lighter cake, use cake flour.
posted by dejah420 at 10:41 AM on June 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


when I said something about it to my best friend she was all "Well, you just have to understand it was a party foul, those happen."

Your friend wants to keep both you and Crazy McCake-Vandal as friends. That's certainly her right.

However, Crazy McCake-Vandal is nuts and inappropriate. You, on the other hand, were testy in a stressful situation. Your friend is minimizing the cake vandalism in order to keep the peace.*

I know who I'd rather have as a friend. That said, you know you were in the right, and Crazy McCake-Vandal has to live in her own head for the rest of her life, so letting it go and treating her with icy politeness is the right move.

*Or maybe something really is up, mental health or neurological health-wise, with this lady, and your friend is being understanding of something that really was beyond her control. Even so, your reaction is completely understandable.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:41 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would also assume that this person was on drugs because that is the sort of thing I'd expect from someone taking acid, so if that's part of the equation that might explain her being crazy but also her hubs hollering at you.
posted by jessamyn at 10:42 AM on June 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


Do you have any idea what she thought she was doing? I'm sitting here trying to think of what her intention could have possibly been -- was she trying to decorate the house with your sugar flowers, or something?
posted by ook at 10:46 AM on June 8, 2009


I'd also, for purely therapeutic reasons, recommend your making a gorgeous cake that somehow bashes her. I dunno, a cake with a big frosting hand on it next to a big ginormous chunk missing?! A cake with a big "EAT ME, CAKE TAKER" written in beautiful, flowery cursive? A cake in the shape of a big teardrop in honor of your making her boo hoo hoo?! Anger can be a powerful creative force, y'know. Please make sure to send us pix of that one, too.
posted by December at 10:51 AM on June 8, 2009 [31 favorites]


You seem to be an amazingly talented baker - your flickr collection is very lovely. And, I'm flabbergasted at this happening to you... I'm generally a grudge-holding, easily-angered, and argumentative person when conflicts are in my vicinity, so I'm far from the best to give out advice on such situations. But damn, this woman needs to be taught manners, and her husband needed to STFU and GTFO with her. If she can't behave in a socially acceptable way, she shouldn't be let in to other people's homes.

And then zen people can be really annoying when you're justifiably angry, but that's another story ;)
posted by Bakuun at 10:52 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, the more I think about it, if I were in your shoes, and the anger cooled, I would probably want to talk to her. It would probably go something like this:

*very calmly*
"I regret snapping at you in the way that I did, but you have to understand how much work went into that cake. Really, what were you thinking when you did that? I really want to know."

It just opens the door for an explanation. Maybe there IS some rational explanation somewhere.
posted by zerokey at 10:56 AM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


The lady owes an apology to you and to the birthday girl.

That is an amazing cake.
posted by charlesv at 10:57 AM on June 8, 2009


I don't need to repeat what everyone else has already said. So two other things then:
1. Cakes are meant to be fleeting. You were robbed of some of your glory, but everyone ended up with cake in their belly, right?
2. You now have a badass cake/mental illness/(drugs?) story that you won't soon forget.
posted by Durin's Bane at 10:58 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I was actually going to say exactly what Jessamyn said--it makes so little sense that I would assume acid. Possible?
posted by Pax at 10:58 AM on June 8, 2009


I'm sorry this happened but you over-reacted. It's a party. You should have taken her aside to somewhere private to chastise her.
posted by Zambrano at 10:59 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for sharing the recipe!
posted by teragram at 11:00 AM on June 8, 2009


If you're saying that somehow, this is acceptable "because it could happen on TV" I think that is absurd.

Acceptable, no ... or ummm, maybe yes. It all gets down to what you're willing to "accept". My TV comment was an attempt to suggest a little bit of a step back for perspective.

In other words (and it is worth repeating), it was just a cake. A beautiful cake, absolutely, A work of art, yes. But in a world where millions of children don't know where their next meal is coming from, this kind of situation can't play as anything but comedy and/or satire.

I happen to have lived in a small island community where situations such as the one detailed here have literally divided the community ... for years. This is not to diminish the pain, frustration, anguish, injustice clearly being felt by the aggrieved ...

But try to imagine, ten years from now, trying to explain to a ten year old child why Mommy will never, ever allow herself to be in the same room as Mrs. Jones.

"Because Mrs. Jones cut into Aunt Susie's birthday cake before everyone could sang Happy Birthday."
posted by philip-random at 11:03 AM on June 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


Oh also:
3. You'll probably get mentioned in the MeFi podcast.
posted by Durin's Bane at 11:03 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. If I'd been in your place, I would have reacted much worse, I admire your restraint! What really sticks out to me is (aside from the sheer wtf factor of a grown woman doing that) that she didn't just ruin a cake -- she destroyed your gift to your best friend. I'm imagining how I would feel if I had spent two weeks knitting a lovely garment for a friend, only to have some whackjob party guest decide to unravel it and festoon the house with the yarn, you know?
posted by sarcasticah at 11:08 AM on June 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


Did the couple offer any explanation for the wife's behavior? I cannot conceive of any circumstances where an adult would behave this way, that does not involve some form of mental illness.

I also don't understand why the other people present seem to think that you're the one who ought to just let this go. You have every reason to be angry. The woman and her husband owe you and the birthday lady a public apology, simple as that. And from the perspective of etiquette, you more than deserve one.

(Yes, I know that "A test of good manners is being able to tolerate bad ones", but some things are beyond the pale. A four-year-old would be made to apologize after demonstrating such behavior; how is it that this woman shouldn't have to?)

I agree with the suggestion about of writing a letter explaining the hard work and extra time that went into what you had planned to be a very special and unique gift, how hurt you were by the wife's thoughtlessness, and how you expect an apology.

If you don't get an apology, then freeze them out at any future functions you see them at. (it sounds like you plan to do this, anyway).

You're a better wo/man that I am, dejah420. At the next event I knew this couple was going to be at, I'd pay the local engineering college students good money to disassemble their car and leave the pieces in a big pile. Then when they confronted me about it, I'd burst into tears and run off while a friend berated them for yelling at me and making me cry.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:09 AM on June 8, 2009 [17 favorites]


I had a friend who I could easily see doing something like this, thinking it was hilarious, and then being angry/sad when nobody else would see the humor. Actually, now that I think about it, I had a couple of friends like this.

These were smart people, and not developmentally disabled - but the more I was around them, the more it was obvious that there was something "different" going on. One of them ended up being diagnosed BPD amongst other things, I have no clue what happened to the other.

It could be that your friend is aware of some inner good with CakeTrasher, as well as aware of any issues that may be there, but not really wanting to discuss it - Almost a "patient-doctor" privilege sort of thing. As I got to know these people better, I began to see that they weren't actually really that bad - Both were smart, and very social under most circumstances. Certain situations just put them in these modes where they would act in ways that were completely irrational to me and everyone else, and soon I found myself being the guy that said "Really, they aren't always like this."

But then they started crossing lines and taking advantage of that nature, and I ended up cutting them off entirely. It wasn't easy to do, but I realized that I coudn't help them the way I was. Any discussion of their irrational behavior led to this self-justifying wrath, and complete denial of there being anything inappropriate, followed by personal attacks on me... I didn't know what to do to help out anymore.

It's difficult when you know that someone CAN be a good person, but they just have "issues" - You want to be there to help them out, you want to make them part of your life, and you don't want to cut them off. (Doesn't have to be "you" specifically, just some people)

This doesn't mean that you have to call them friend also, but understand that there may be more going on. It's not your role to help them, but I wish I personally knew how I could have helped these people in my life. They simply stated lashing out more and more at those few people who would tolerate it.

That's just how I see this based on my own personal experiences with people who crossed those "WTF is wrong with you" thresholds who otherwise seemed like relatively normal people at first.


All of that being said, your reaction was perfectly in line. You should let go of it eventually, but don't feel any need to give CakeTrasher any more time than is socially needed.
posted by MysticMCJ at 11:11 AM on June 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


By the way, whether you choose to let the situation go or attempt to avenge your cake, I strongly believe a karaoke rendition of MacArthur Park should be involved.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:11 AM on June 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


@Durin's Bane: 2. You now have a badass cake/mental illness/(drugs?) story that you won't soon forget.


Oh, I wouldn't forgot it, and I'd make sure no one else did, either.

By the time I finished, everyone would be convinced the wife is a dangerous schizophrenic who hears voices emanating from baked goods, telling her to KILL THE BIRTHDAY GIRL NOW, SHE'S SATAN IN DISGUISE, DO YOU HEAR, SATAN!
posted by magstheaxe at 11:14 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I can maybe understand thinking it would be funny to hide the sugar flowers, and then -- because she was drunk? high? has some kind of disability? -- in doing so, accidentally grabbed out part of the cake, making it look like she grabbed a chunk to eat. You are certainly owed an apology from her, and I don't think you need to actively hold a grudge, but it's reasonable to avoid small gatherings with her, until/unless she apologises. There are lots of ways to be politely cutting, and those ways are appropriate, whatever the reason for her actions are. (Unless/until the apology, again.)

If she was on some kind of drug that fucked with her behaviour, then ignore the following. I am working with the lots of people who think she must be some sort of mentally ill.

There are people who just don't get other people, don't get social cues, make jokes that are hugely, horrendously offensive and painful that they think, really truly think, are funny. There are people who are like that and who decide that something is over, and don't get that people stay upset for a longer time, even if they are grudge-holders. My sister is one of those people (note: this is not autism, or not necessarily; it's not with her), and it's not a coincidence that no one who isn't related to her interacts with her. I can see her hiding parts of a cake and thinking it's funny, and her fine motor control -- once truly excellent -- has degenerated enough that she would accidentally mangle the cake as well. She would still think it's just a joke. Once you yelled at her she would be convinced -- really, truly, honestly convinced -- that you had lost the higher ground because she just made a joke and you overreacted, and that she deserved the apology, not you. She would believe this absolutely. It is obnoxious as all hell to deal with.

I am not saying that this is right, or fair. I am not saying you shouldn't be sad and angry. It's not right, it's not fair, you have a right to be sad and angry. You certainly have a right to find out in advance if she will be there, to avoid her for as long as you are annoyed, and to find out in advance if she will be there if you are ever ever ever making a gift like that again, because she cannot be trusted. I would be tempted to make a single cupcake with her name on it and a little sign saying "for [name] to play with instead of the actual cake", every single time. But just imagine how infathomably shitty your life would be if you made these kinds of mistakes, again and again, and you couldn't learn how not to, that you didn't get people, that they always seemed angry or upset with you, that nothing you did was ever right. It would suck to be her.

For all that, I am completely unable to have this sympathy I am describing except on very brief occasions, and I don't think I'd have it in yours. It's just a perspective so when you see her you can be icy instead of rude. Tell your zen friend that she has to let go of her irritation with your response. You're not asking anyone to break up their social circles, and they don't get to ask you to like all their friends.
posted by jeather at 11:18 AM on June 8, 2009 [17 favorites]


By the way, whether you choose to let the situation go or attempt to avenge your cake, I strongly believe a karaoke rendition of MacArthur Park should be involved.

If this woman remained in my circle of friends after this incident, she would henceforth be known as "MacArthur Park" unto the end of her days.

Also, that cake sounds (and looks) off the chain.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 11:26 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Maybe there is some weird food obsession thing going on here. Does the cake vandal have an eating disorder?
posted by medusa at 11:27 AM on June 8, 2009


Oh, wow, maybe medusa is on to something. Maybe she couldn't help herself, ate a piece of the cake in a fit of binging delusion, then came to and decided she had to mess up the cake somehow to make it look intentional. So many theories, so few answers.
posted by billysumday at 11:32 AM on June 8, 2009


Whatever you do, stay away from this woman and her husband. I classify this as serious anti-social behavior. Pathological. Seriously. What kind of a person does this sort of thing? Somebody you stay far, far away from. I wouldn't want to stick around to see what other havoc her behavior manifests.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:34 AM on June 8, 2009


I think one reason your friend probably thinks of it as a "party foul" is because, well, it was going to get eaten anyway. So, yeah, the cake was wrecked, but it's not like she was going to keep it and treasure it forever anyway. And it sounds like there was even some left to serve! I can absolutely see why that would seem dismissive of all the time and effort you spent.

Now that does not touch at all on the mental illness side of things here. It's not worth holding a grudge over, because the kind of person who isn't going to know it's a problem is often not going to understand why you're upset about it. Having her think you're irrational/neurotic isn't going to improve anything. All you can do here is try to make a learning experience out of it - now you know more about this woman and can take that into account when deciding whether to deal with her and how. Being civil but not friendly seems fair (not sure what "country-club polite" means though). If you really feel compelled to try and explain it to her, or talk to her husband to try and figure out what happened / explain how much time you spent, you can do that, but I don't know if it's even worth the trouble.
posted by Lady Li at 11:36 AM on June 8, 2009


Metroid Baby: By the way, whether you choose to let the situation go or attempt to avenge your cake, I strongly believe a karaoke rendition of MacArthur Park should be involved.

Damn it, now I have to figure out how to make a Puddle Cake. ;)

(Seriously...is there some metaphysical depth to that song I'm not getting? Why would someone leave your cake out in the rain, in the park, and why wouldn't you have the recipe again? What does it mean, man? What does it mean? )
posted by dejah420 at 11:51 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


...and if she ever balls up and apologizes, tell her that "Sorry doesn't count when you do something stupid on purpose"....I've always wanted to use that quote (again).
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 11:54 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Crazybitch Von Clueless was living up to her name. You were well within your rights to be angry at both her and the stupid husband.

I wouldn't even bother with country club polite (excellent phrase btw); just ignore her existence.

Also, I am gobmacked by that jaw-dropping cake. Can I hire you for my birthday?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:55 AM on June 8, 2009


Well, "jihad," no, since that means "struggle" or "to strive for." There's nothing to struggle against here, unless you mean your own feelings of hurt and anger. I don't think I would have been able to stop myself from choking the woman, so good for you. She ran out crying? Too bad. If she had even the maturity of a mere 12 year old, she would have stood her ground and either apologized or shouted back.

In the future, I would vote for the icy stare. Life's too short to waste on silly people.

As for her husband, his response is sad, but not surprising. I was once in a movie theater where a woman started having a loud conversation on her cell phone. She was told by quite a few people, in a range of responses from polite to furious, to STFU. If I had been her husband, I would have hustled that woman right out of there, since she was in imminent danger of bodily harm. What does he do instead? Starts shouting back at the people, telling them "Don't talk shit about my wife motherfkrs..." etc...
posted by HopperFan at 11:56 AM on June 8, 2009


here is a letter I missed: s
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:57 AM on June 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


(Seriously...is there some metaphysical depth to that song I'm not getting? Why would someone leave your cake out in the rain, in the park, and why wouldn't you have the recipe again? What does it mean, man? What does it mean? )

I think it's about an LSD trip.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 12:01 PM on June 8, 2009


that she didn't just ruin a cake -- she destroyed your gift to your best friend. I'm imagining how I would feel if I had spent two weeks knitting a lovely garment for a friend, only to have some whackjob party guest decide to unravel it and festoon the house with the yarn, you know?

This. It wasn't as if she merely helped herself to food that was not meant for her, she disassembled and ruined a handmade gift.

I can't say I'd be as calm as your friend, but well...if it's the thought that counts, she already saw her present and knew what you did for her. As the hostess of the party, she may have felt extra responsibility to take the high road.

Disregard the husband berating you for making his wife cry. It's a natural reaction that he would come to her defense, but he was probably as embarrassed and confused as anyone.
posted by desuetude at 12:06 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


You were more than reasonable, restrained. can't get my mind around how someone would consider those actions to be reasonable or close. stunning cake, by the way. her reactions to your comment are not surprising. some people are never wrong, will perpetually make the other person the bad guy. i'm sick of it.
posted by ambient2 at 12:12 PM on June 8, 2009


Also, in all future conversations, you should refer to this woman as "CakeThrasher" or "CakeVandal".

Have fun with it, in fact. Register the domain names "cakethrasher.com" and "cakevandal.com". Name your band "Cakethrasher" and your dog "Cakevandal". Sell t-shirts: "My best friend's birthday cake was attacked by a cakevandal, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt." Do bumperstickers: "Cakethrashers for Obama!".

Start dropping the terms into casual conversation: "I nearly had the project wrapped up, but then my boss totally cakethrashed it". "It's a good thing you dumped him, his life was one long cakethrash after another, and who needs that kind of drama?"

Borrow a cat and put it into the next cake you bake. As the kitty is happily traipsing through the frosting, snap some pics and post them LOLCATS: CAKEVANDAL CAT IS VANDALING CAKE!

You can have so much fun with this, you'll forget why you got angry in the first place.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:14 PM on June 8, 2009 [35 favorites]


But just imagine how infathomably shitty your life would be if you made these kinds of mistakes, again and again, and you couldn't learn how not to, that you didn't get people, that they always seemed angry or upset with you, that nothing you did was ever right. It would suck to be her.

With these people, this is the proper frame of mind. Vindictive but passive.

She ruined your cake the other day.

But she's ruining her own life every day.
posted by Netzapper at 12:16 PM on June 8, 2009 [20 favorites]


I don't have much to add but that your anger is perfectly justified and I would have no further contact with Clueless McFuckwit again.

Icy politeness and minimal contact is far, far better than a nit like that deserves, and icy politeness and then walking away if you have tocome into contact with her again is the classiest way to handle Classless Twat.

Who gives a flying fuck if she cried?
posted by Savannah at 12:18 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can have so much fun with this, you'll forget why you got angry in the first place.

Everyone else will laugh at this the first time, and afterward just continue to wonder why the hell you can't seem to move on. If you wish to remain in this circle of friends, you don't want this to become the story you tell every time cake is mentioned, or served. Or not mentioned, or not served.
posted by hermitosis at 12:24 PM on June 8, 2009 [14 favorites]


I really can't do much but vote yes on mentally ill in some fashion, with my hunch being that this could be some kind of early-onset dementia that her husband is stressed out over having to cover for. He may not even know yet (my dad was doing odd things years before his diagnosis). Perhaps some discreet asking around as to whether there is a pattern of such incidents would be in order.

In the end, it is just a cake, and you got your digs in at the event. That really should make the score even. What it will do to you to obsess over this is not worth it.
posted by dhartung at 12:36 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I still don't get what possesses someone to think "Hey a birthday cake: Let me sticks my paws in it!"

I think you've got your answers, but the morbid curiosity of her idiocy intrigues me. What else has she done?
posted by jerseygirl at 12:59 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I knew a person who sat on the birthday cake at a party.

>: She ruined your cake the other day.

But she's ruining her own life every day.


This.
People like this have a problem, and it's not unusual for them to alienate everyone they know as their behavior becomes more and more bizzare.
I knew a guy who would do things like this regularly- once he actually sat on a cake my brother baked and then ran off and hid- and as time went on he became universally loathed for his shenanigans. He was last seen stripping his clothes off and jumping off a very large bridge.
This isn't to say it's your job to help or be nice to this lady (avoid her like the plague) but people like this tend not to stay around very long: Either they get committed, jailed, or they have to move away because everyone knows they're nuts.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:59 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


If I saw a cake like that at a party, I would hesitate to even get close to it out of fear of messing it up in some way. Try to content yourself with the knowledge that a lot of people who were at the party have probably come to the same judgment as you. Wishing that someone capable of this is also capable of an apology is just allowing the anger inside of you not to find a happy resting place.

On another note, the French call the desire to say the right comeback after the fact "l'esprit de l'escalier" which means "the spirit of the staircase" since you think of the right thing to say when you're walking down the staircase going home. It sounds like in your case you had the presence of mind to say something at the time, and for that you should definitely feel happy.
posted by fantasticninety at 1:09 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, after reading the whole thread twice, I sort of disagree with a lot of people (but not all of them.) Thoughts:

- You are justified in being royally pissed off
- What you said seems perfectly appropriate and not excessive at all, under the circumstances.
- The husband's a dick; furthermore, spouses who leap to the defense of assholish behavior on the part of their sig others annoy the piss out of me.

That being said, I would suggest that it's time to refocus. Decide what you're going to do, not how you're going to feel. Avoid socializing with this person, fine. Be as icily polite as possible in public, sure. Figure out a quick line to deflect the topic from curious people who heard about the incident, definitely.

But I don't think you should spend any more energy at all thinking about how terrible it was, or how angry you are, or who righteously justified is your wrath. I'm not saying you should feel bad about being angry, at all - that's fine. But be angry, and let it pass. Don't dwell on it. Don't think about what you could have done, or what you should have said. Definitely don't sit up nights plotting how aloofly correct you'll be when you run into her in the grocery store (this is something I am particularly prone to.)

Make your decisions about what you need to do, and move on. If you spend all your time thinking about it, you'll upset your digestion, and clearly, that would be a crime with so many lovely cakes to make and eat :)
posted by restless_nomad at 1:25 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Huh? The offender is not merely a "jerk" or "socially inept" or even an "asshole." This is the act of a seriously disturbed, abnormal person. This is so far outside the bounds of acceptable behavior that I can barely fathom it. I'd avoid someone this disturbed at all costs.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 1:28 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


If your friend is zen and very forgiving, give her a new gift. When you refer to McCrazypants, refer to her only by her last name. Don't call her names or continue to refer to the incident because it will upset your friend. You can nurse your grudge all you want in private. However, if your friend chooses to be friends with McCrazypants, and if you care about your friend, don't cause her more pain or discomfort when she sees that you continue to feel this way about that person. Seriously, referring to her as Mrs. X and include the country club polite approach is sufficient even when dealing with mutual friends.

There are people in my life I would be happy to see disappear and others I care about. Unfortunately, some of the people I care about in turn care for some of those others. They know that there is distance. Beyond that I don't feel a need to expand into areas which could cause discomfort or pain to those for whom I care. If you need specifics, ME mail me.
posted by onhazier at 1:37 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


MysticMCJ: "One of them ended up being diagnosed BPD amongst other things, I have no clue what happened to the other."

Not sure if you mean bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder, but in 2003 I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and I sure as hell know far better than to do something like this.

As far as the husband... I have a friend who, even if I think she isn't entirely in the right, gets upset with me if she feels I don't stand up for her enough in a situation where someone else thinks she did something wrong. She'll hound me about it for days, "why didn't you YELL at her? I thought you were my friend, why didn't you stand up for me more?" Although she's never done anything as egregious as this and she wouldn't.

If you can let it go, try to, for your own sake. (I have a hard time following my own advice sometimes.) But I don't think you should socialize with this woman and her husband anymore. You don't have to avoid events they're attending; just act indifferent towards them. Treat them as strangers.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:39 PM on June 8, 2009


Way cool cake.

I don't think you overreacted at all.

I think my askme question on this would have been more along these lines.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:40 PM on June 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


You seem to be best-answering people who are telling you to forgive.

Nevertheless, I want to go on record as saying you would have been justified, had a machine gun been handy, to go on a terrible bloody rampage of holy rage and vengeance.

Also, I agree there may have been some sort of jealousy/envy behind her bizarre destructiveness.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:43 PM on June 8, 2009


I am going to describe an alternate scenario....

She is drunk, and sees a cake. having no idea it isn't a $5.99 special from the grocery store (completely clueless individual) she takes junk off the top and hacks at it with a dull knife or fork, making it look like a mess (you said no-one actually saw her use her hands, you are going on the aftereffects.) And then some random baker-person shows up and makes her cry.

Sometimes it is helpful to look at things from both perspectives. I think she is most surely an idiot, and demonstrably socially inept. But, I have always loved the aphorism "Never ascribe to malice that which can easily be explained by incompetence." I think for a 40 year old that got married, works and occasionally gets invited to parties, acting like a malicious 3 year old might be a stretch. A complete, clueless idiot, now that begins to sound like a more reasonable theory.

I am not in any way diminishing your hurt feelings. You worked hard on that cake, and its premature destruction upset you greatly. Zen doesn't mean your friend can't appreciate the beauty of the cake and all the hard work you put into it. It means they keep things in perspective. A cake is a cake, you are you, even though you worked very hard on the cake, it was to be eaten anyway, so now she wants to take care of your emotions and not worry about the cake, which is long gone.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 1:49 PM on June 8, 2009


Nobody knows whether it's a party foul or reason for jihad because you didn't ask for an explanation before unloading. You should have asked her, privately, why she did what she did before going ballistic on her. That way, you ascertain whether it was some weird mis-understanding - they do happen once in a while - or if she is, as others have suggested, somewhat mentally ill. It also would have also given her the chance to apologize on the off chance that it was some weird misunderstanding.

You have a right to be angry. But "What the hell is wrong with you? or "Were you raised by animals?" while understandable responses, were not good ones. You will never receive an apology after saying something like that.

I'm just saying that I will no longer be friendly to her...Am I over-reacting to an egregious party foul?
If you are still talking about this to your friend and proclaiming that you will no longer be civil to this person, then you really are being a bit of a jerk towards your friend. Are you really wondering whether you in-appropriately caused a scene at your friend's party? Probably, but there was a lot of provocation. Apologize to your friend and move on.
posted by txvtchick at 1:51 PM on June 8, 2009


You were 100% correct, she was 100% wrong. I'm also guessing the husband has defended his wife before, and will do so in the future.

Thats just how the crazies are...
posted by hal_c_on at 2:07 PM on June 8, 2009


If that woman had done this to me, my response would have involved the f-word. If she doesn't like getting yelled at, she should stop acting like a crazy bitch.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:27 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


hermatosis said :"Everyone else will laugh at this the first time, and afterward just continue to wonder why the hell you can't seem to move on. If you wish to remain in this circle of friends, you don't want this to become the story you tell every time cake is mentioned, or served. Or not mentioned, or not served."


*shrug* That's as may be. If they can't see that dejah420 is dealing with a ridiculous situation by trying to have a little fun with it, then s/he might want to consider if s/he wishs to remain in this circle of friends, since they seem to value the company of a known twit with potentially serious mental problems over the company of someone who's known to be generous and thoughtful (as was demonstrated by the lovely cake gift).


dejah420, when you're ready to start selling I SURVIVED CAKETHRASH '09 t-shirts on etsy, send me a memail.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:31 PM on June 8, 2009


txvtchick said: Are you really wondering whether you in-appropriately caused a scene at your friend's party? Probably, but there was a lot of provocation. Apologize to your friend and move on.

Oh no, the majority of the party was still outside in the pool. There was no scene, and I didn't raise my voice. I was in complete shock. The only time I brought it up after it happened was to ask if anyone had gotten a picture of it before it was disassembled. When someone asked about it, I said that I wasn't sure, I was outside with everyone else.

But there was no scene. I would be willing to bet money that other than her, her husband, my best friend, myself and one other friend, nobody else knew what happened. I covered for it. She'd pushed the bees down their sticks...impaling them Vlad-style, so I just stuck them in a bowl of cherries, we cut the rest of the cake into slices, and put the remaining flowers on the pieces. I pointedly ignored the flowers that had been put all over the house, and when anyone would find them and ask me I would shrug and say "I couldn't tell ya."

My question was more about moving forward: Freeze her out of my existence, or shrug and move on. A lot of the posters have had some really good points, the primary of which is that an edible item is not worth the kind of energy that a really good feud would take.

Don't get me wrong, the revenge ones make me laugh...I'm like that. But the posts have really helped me see that while it's justified to be angry about it, holding on to that anger serves no purpose.
posted by dejah420 at 2:33 PM on June 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


You're totally justified in feeling aggrieved and I think the tone you took in your response was spot on. She strikes me as completely socially inept and ego-centric (I'm in agreement with other comments that it may run deeper that that). The husband is an ass, there's times to support your spouse and there's times to correct your spouse when they do something wrong; this was the time to apologize, take her home and prevent her ruining the day.

But for your own sake, let it go. This woman is not worth you spending energy on anger. You don't have to be anything but civil to her, and certainly don't let her anywhere near baked goods in the future. You have much better friends and things to spend your time with than this idiot.

Awesome cake! You are very talented.
posted by arcticseal at 2:41 PM on June 8, 2009


She is drunk, and sees a cake. having no idea it isn't a $5.99 special from the grocery store (completely clueless individual) she takes junk off the top and hacks at it with a dull knife or fork, making it look like a mess (you said no-one actually saw her use her hands, you are going on the aftereffects.)

I fail to see how the cost/origin of the cake makes any difference whatsoever. No one in their right mind would do something like this. It's not a party foul, it's a behavior fail. I would have been just as pissed off as you were, deja420, and all I did was read about it.

I think you're moving on beautifully, but I also really think that that woman does not deserve your friendship. Be polite if you must, but you're a better person than I am (quite likely; I'm quite the bitch) if you do more than answer in monosyllables and make eye contact with her ever again.

That cake was gorgeous. And you're a wonderful friend for doing all the work as a birthday gift.
posted by cooker girl at 2:46 PM on June 8, 2009


My reaction to all this is pretty much the same as nd¢'s (in MetaTalk).

Seriously, it got my knickers all in a twist. I'm glad you're working through it, though.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:11 PM on June 8, 2009


I fail to see how the cost/origin of the cake makes any difference whatsoever.

It only makes a difference insomuch as her motivation might be concerned. If she was hungry and wanted a piece of cake, not knowing it was a special cake, she may have cut into it not realizing its value to the party.

I'm mainly saying the scenario we were given to comment on was the poster's perspective. The cake-manglers perspective would be different, and a fly on the wall different yet. The old saying about walking a mile in someones shoes before judging them was my point.

Also, rethinking the Zen thing. Perhaps your friend realized the gift was the making of the cake, and the cake itself was just evidence of your warm heart. Even if the evidence goes, the gift will be there forever.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 3:16 PM on June 8, 2009


I am amazed at all the people who are advocating some sort of forgive and forget scenario.

If someone had destroyed a gift I had labored over for that long, no matter how ephemeral it was, I would make sure everyone in the world knew what the hell they had done and I would never speak to them again. I might take out ads in the paper describing what she'd done. I am so mad on your behalf I can barely type.

At the very least I'd never speak to her again.
posted by winna at 3:24 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did the couple offer any explanation for the wife's behavior? I cannot conceive of any circumstances where an adult would behave this way, that does not involve some form of mental illness.

How about, "They have friends who are very relaxed about aberrant behaviour, indulge them at every turn, and therefore have the expectation that behaving like shitheads is OK."

That is the downside about cultivating a "very Zen" approach to life.

Your response was, fankly, mild, dejah. And if my wife had laboured on this sort of special gift, had it destroyed, and then the husband of the destroyer had the temerity to abuse my wife for being rightfully upset, I'd have smacked him so hard he'd wake up in next week. But then I have anger problems.
posted by rodgerd at 3:38 PM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't think that there's much doubt that you don't owe Manic Pixie Dream Girl anything more than the bare minimum courtesy generally required by polite society. But--and I'm not really suggesting that you should estrange yourself from your best friend here, seriously I'm not--I wonder if you shouldn't save your truly heroic confections for parties held by friends that aren't going to invite people that were apparently raised by wolves. She can enjoy your creations at parties where you're in charge of the guest list.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:38 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have a friend? acquaintance? I haven't seen her in years who might be capable of something like this. I can see her reasoning being something like "Hm, I didn't bring anything to the party, no one really wants me here, I need to do something to make my presence worthwhile. Oooh look, someone bought a cake, I bet if I spread the flowers around the room they will make pretty decorations!" And she would have no idea why you're upset and why she's been shunned.

Of course, she has a verifiable mental illness and has been institutionalized in the past.
posted by desjardins at 3:44 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Over-reacted? Hell, I'm pretty damn sure you've under-reacted here.

Since banishment from society is no longer a feasible option, the correct thing to do is to post this thread to your Facebook page. This is clearly the most shame-inducing method we have at our disposal in a regretfully modern world, and you owe it to yourself -- nay -- society to do this so that any future cake molestations are nipped in the bud. Godspeed, dejah420.
posted by dhammond at 3:49 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


My entirely out-of-thin-air guess would be medication mixed with alcohol. Her husband's reaction suggests that it isn't the first time it's happened. I bet either that she gets her act together and you get an apology, or things get much worse for her because it's something out of her control.

Either way, holding a grudge will just make you bitter.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:57 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can forgive her without feeling obligated to be friendly to her. She sounds like a pain in the ass. Don't let anyone guilt you into babying her.
posted by Neofelis at 3:57 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm still stuck on the revenge part. Bake her a poop-cake.

I know you didn't give anywhere near enough information for the usual metafilter detectives to track her down, but I would love to know her identity. It's best I don't though, as I would do something so mean it would probably get me an FCC fine, or put on a do-not-fly list.

I still want to write her a letter, but would have to plagiarize a lot of nd¢'s comment (which I would favorite again if I could).
posted by cjorgensen at 4:33 PM on June 8, 2009


Have you considered linking your flickr page of the amazing-cake-in-progress to this thread? You are totally justified in being incredibly pissed at cake-thrasher but I can guarantee you will be laughing about this story at parties for years. Seriously, who wrecks a birthday cake?
posted by saucysault at 4:48 PM on June 8, 2009


Freeze her out of my existence, or shrug and move on.

I'd shrug and move on *by* freezing her out of my existence.
posted by mediareport at 4:51 PM on June 8, 2009


(Also, I'll echo Halloween Jack's comment: if you know someone who will unapologetically ruin anything nice you do for people will be at a venue, I wouldn't bother doing high-effort, readily destructible nice things for people at that venue. I don't loan books to people any more, nothing personal, but I've lost a few really nice and hard to replace books because people who seemed trustworthy have turned out not to be, with nary an apology for losing $100 hardcovers that can only be replaced, with difficulty, with paperbacks. And they've never tried. So to forestall further incidents, I don't loan books.)
posted by rodgerd at 4:52 PM on June 8, 2009


I've been following this thread today. It's now almost 8 hours since I first read your description of the incident, and I'm still angry at the cakewrecker on your behalf. The cake looks amazing; it's obviously a custom job that took lots of time and effort. I am stunned that someone who apparently has enough social skills to have friends and a husband would ever think that her behavior was OK. If anything, I agree with others that you under-reacted.

Good for you that you managed to deal with it and not make a scene at the time (which might have ruined your friends' party), and for seemingly being able to forgive. But I will join the chorus of those saying that you shouldn't feel obligated to be anything but unfailingly polite and dismissive of this person. That's not holding a grudge, it's protecting yourself in some small manner from this person's inappropriate behavior in the future.
posted by gemmy at 5:22 PM on June 8, 2009


So what the hell were the other party guests doing while she was merrily cakewrecking? I have seen people do stupid stuff at parties, and have stepped in and asked them to stop. If anyone saw her doing it and let it happen, I really hope they were in earshot when you bitched her out.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:36 PM on June 8, 2009


Ah, I'd missed your reply that most of the guests were out at the pool - sounds like you handled the incident with dignity. Cold politeness is all this woman deserves from you. (Though the demon in me thinks it would be wonderfully evil to send her a link to this thread. Ok you definitely shouldn't do that, but you can imagine it while practicing your secret evil laugh.)
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:51 PM on June 8, 2009


I was also diagnosed several years ago with BPD, or a borderline personality. Though I wouldn't say that I am "cured", I have learned new, better coping mechanisms (that's a lot of what BPD is -- people acting out bc they never learned the appropriate ways to deal with their emotions).

It is possible that CakeWrecker is BPD (though it sounds a little bit more like a Bipolar/manic episode to me). The reason I say that it could possibly be BPD is because many people with that disorder seek attention in loopy ways like that or seek to sabotage people that they see as really having their shit together (basically the opposite of themselves). Back in the throes of my illness, you popping up with your perfect, perfect cake that you'd spent hours on would have totally gotten my goat. I wouldn't have ruined your cake, but I may have tried to find ways to belittle you. Many BPD's are perfectionists that never even try because they are so sure they will fail. So when they see someone succeed or do something that looks perfect, this can create intense jealousy and self-hatred like most people probably can't imagine. It makes them think about what failures they are, etc. It's a totally selfish, self-absorbed mindset, and it would be obvious to anyone normal that they are blowing things way out of proportion but the borderline person lacks the ability to think rationally about those kinds of things. It can be learned though, and that's why they shouldn't be cut any slack.

You should not be sorry for how you reacted and you should not apologize to her. What she did was wrong. It wasn't funny or cute. And she needs to learn that. What really helped me get better was that my friends, though they stood by me and supported me, also let me know the kind of effect my behavior was having on them. Once I really realized that, I knew I had to change because they deserved a friend who treated them as well as they treated me. I know you aren't really friends with this woman so I especially don't think you should apologize. That will be like rewarding her behavior.

If she's bipolar and was having a manic episode I still don't think you should apologize. But she may not have been fully aware of what she was doing or even had the ability to control herself.
posted by imalaowai at 6:11 PM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Let's distinguish two kinds of friend-dumping here:

a) bad-character friend-dumping: you drop a friend because that friend is a twerp.

b) misbehavior friend-dumping: you drop a friend because that friend does something horrible.

No way is b) justified here. I mean, c'mon, it's a cake. She didn't run over your puppy.

But it sounds like a) is appropriate -- she sounds like an immature person who you don't need in your life in general...
posted by paultopia at 6:37 PM on June 8, 2009


imalaowai: In that case, the proper thing would be for someone who knows - like her husband - should explain it, rather than aggravating the situation.
posted by rodgerd at 6:38 PM on June 8, 2009


did you overreact? no

are you overreacting now? yes

it's over. let it go.
posted by swbarrett at 7:03 PM on June 8, 2009


This is just so bizarre. I am not sure how well you know this woman and her husband. If she doesn't have any mental issues (illness/drugs/alcohol) I would seriously make it a point to steer clear of such people. Especially if jealousy is involved.

I somehow also don't get how the b'day girl is so cool about it. The least she could do is validate how you felt about it. Shrugging it off as party foul really doesn't help.

Maybe you could try- always forgive but never forget?

Beautiful cake.

Bizarre.
posted by xm at 7:13 PM on June 8, 2009


But there was no scene. I would be willing to bet money that other than her, her husband, my best friend, myself and one other friend, nobody else knew what happened. I covered for it. She'd pushed the bees down their sticks...impaling them Vlad-style, so I just stuck them in a bowl of cherries, we cut the rest of the cake into slices, and put the remaining flowers on the pieces. I pointedly ignored the flowers that had been put all over the house, and when anyone would find them and ask me I would shrug and say "I couldn't tell ya."

Nicely done, then. You showed self-control at an event that was important to your friend.

That said, I still think it's appropriate to ask "What's going on?" before chewing someone out. When I was a kid, I did something kind of similar to what this person did, because I mis-heard what the teacher said. When the teacher (whom I really liked) found out, she rolled her eyes at me. I wanted to sink into the ground and die. I was embarrassed for years afterward whenever I thought of it. I know, this person is an adult, but my point is that weird misunderstandings happen.
posted by txvtchick at 7:22 PM on June 8, 2009


Slap-worthy behavior. Sorry. Completely and utterly slap-worthy. Don't do it. But I would have entirely understood if you had.
posted by Muirwylde at 7:49 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


That cake is so pretty that I would have a hard time eating it even if you wanted me to.
Personally, I would have dropped the f-bomb multiple times upon discovery, and then I would hold an indefinite grudge and talk shit behind her back at every opportunity. I'm not saying that's a healthy option, just that how you responded seems pretty benign, all things considered.
posted by naoko at 8:44 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


But the posts have really helped me see that while it's justified to be angry about it, holding on to that anger serves no purpose.

This is wonderful, if you can do it, but remember that you too are a human being, and anger is a natural human response. Simply moving on takes a certain kind of personality and a great deal of discipline and even then people often find it, paradoxically, easier to forgive really big things (like murder) than comparatively small things (like a busted up cake).

You can't just pretend, or rationalise, your anger away. That's false forgiveness, and that will just mess things up more than open hostility.

My recommendation: take a page from the book of the 'restorative justice' people. Write her a letter, long and heartfelt and honest, apologising for making her cry, but insisting that this will become a running sore in your relationship unless she explains herself and makes restitution. Explain that you need her to understand how much she hurt you, to understand how much of your work she destroyed. Let her know that she needs to make things right, not with money or favours or another cake, but by letting you know that she genuinely understands what she did wrong, genuinely feels truly sorry, and genuinely needs your forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a great thing, but most of us aren't saints. Justice which restores the balance of your little society of friends makes forgiveness a heck of a lot easier.
posted by Dreadnought at 8:53 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Zen doesn't mean your friend can't appreciate the beauty of the cake and all the hard work you put into it.

Yeah, I agree. Zen doesn't mean that, when someone wilfully destroys a cake you've spent hours making, you have to say, "No worries, man, it's all good."

You can be pissed and Zen at the same time.
posted by jayder at 9:13 PM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


If it had been me, she would've gone missing, and on Monday people at my office would've said "Mmm, red velvet cake. Tastes a little unusual - what's in it?"

Human fat makes the best frosting.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:26 AM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm with Jessamyn. Acid or shrooms.
posted by flabdablet at 5:59 AM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


My sympathies. The cake was beautiful, and a beautiful gesture as well.

I read the words you said to Cakey McBuggernuts and it sounded like exactly the same thing I would have said. I'd have wondered about over/under-response as well, because, well, my experience just hasn't taught me what the acceptable response is to batshit-insane-cake-assault. I wouldn't forget, wouldn't seek this couple's company, and would be very careful about what she had access to that I cared about.

Still, I'm really surprised by the level of vehemence and retribution some posters here are stating they'd feel appropriate in the situation. Do y'all always make such big productions out of personal slights? Particularly when it's clearly something no rational person would do outside of a television show setting? It doesn't excuse the behavior or make it acceptable, but social retribution, violence, passive-aggressive revenge-through-destruction and whatnot just seem awfully self-destructive responses that feed the anger instead of healing it.
posted by notashroom at 10:51 AM on June 9, 2009


Agreeing with all of the above "No, you're not in any way overreacting" comments, except to note:

Oh please. If another 9 year old did this to my kid's cake I wouldn't let him come over anymore. Unless "Socially Inept" = "Mental Illness."


artychoke, if a 9yo (or the whacko guest) did this because of mental illness, I still wouldn't let him/her come over again, unescorted. And "escorted" means "at all times, by someone who will take responsibility to control their actions."

Your first priority is to protect yourself and others from harm, not to be nice.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:02 PM on June 9, 2009


@notashroom "I'm really surprised by the level of vehemence and retribution some posters here are stating they'd feel appropriate in the situation. Do y'all always make such big productions out of personal slights?

I'm surprised that anyone could dismiss the intentional destruction of two weeks worth of hard work on someone's behalf as a mere "slight".


@notashroom Particularly when it's clearly something no rational person would do outside of a television show setting?

Especially when it's something no rational person would do outside of TV. That just makes it worse.


@notashroom It doesn't excuse the behavior or make it acceptable, but social retribution, violence, passive-aggressive revenge-through-destruction and whatnot just seem awfully self-destructive responses that feed the anger instead of healing it."

That's retribution's dirty little secret. Despite all the things that everyone from religious figures to psychologists have said about revenge being a poison, the reality is that for a lot of folks, retribution is sometimes exactly what's needed to dispel one's rage.

In this instance dejah420 has already started to make peace with what happened, and I say good for dejah. But as my mom used to say, "Be careful who you mess with, because you never know for sure how they'll choose to respond."

If Mrs. CakeVandal hadn't been able to rely on the tolerance of the other people at the party, she might've thought twice before she destroyed that cake.
posted by magstheaxe at 1:35 PM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


perhaps she has aspergers?

(in which case, berating her would only confuse her further, as would icy country club tactics. it would also possibly explain her rather eccentric behaviour, and apparent failure to understand social norms or predict the effects of her behaviour)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:54 AM on June 10, 2009


perhaps she has aspergers?

We may have medicalized being a completely socially numb douchebag (not to say all people with Asperger's are like that), but that doesn't mean they aren't a completely socially numb douchebag who deserves to be treated as such.

People like this walk all over your personal boundaries, do really shitty things, and then just don't get it when you get exasperated and ask them what their problem is. Being nice or even country-club polite doesn't help: If you try to be friendly and keep on interacting with them, they will keep on making your life hell.

I've known people who wouldn't pick up that a conversation was over and would follow me in to the restroom and keep on talking at me, or who would follow me out to the parking lot at school as if I was going to drive them somewhere. Another person would do things like get drunk and call up my friends telling them that I was in a faraway city doing drugs in a homeless shelter, resulting in panic: afterwards he wouldn't see anything wrong in it and would get insulted when I asked what he thought he was doing.

In my experience, the best way to deal with the truely socially retarded is to cut them out of your life and avoid them like the plague, and to hell with them getting their feelings hurt- they certainly don't react to yours. I would avoid future events where this woman is present and tell your friend it's nothing against her.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:58 AM on June 10, 2009


magstheaxe -
I'm surprised that anyone could dismiss the intentional destruction of two weeks worth of hard work on someone's behalf as a mere "slight".

"Mere" is your characterization, not mine. It's entirely unacceptable, but the recipient got the primary gift -- the knowledge of the time and effort put forth to create a thing of beauty for her -- and it was a cake, meant to be eaten that day anyway. That this obviously disturbed individual vandalized the cake is disturbing and hurtful, but perspective is useful. No one was injured. The gift was received. The cake was eaten and enjoyed. No property intended to be durable was destroyed.

Especially when it's something no rational person would do outside of TV. That just makes it worse.

The offense is worse because it's clearly an irrational act? So, rational destruction is preferable to irrational? Less hurtful, less disturbing, when it is clearly a work of personal malice than when it could be a result of confusion or faulty processing? My perspective on this differs from yours.

That's retribution's dirty little secret. Despite all the things that everyone from religious figures to psychologists have said about revenge being a poison, the reality is that for a lot of folks, retribution is sometimes exactly what's needed to dispel one's rage.

I can see that, to a degree, in terms of a one-off revenge scenario. But campaigns to ensure that everyone who knows her knows what she did (such as, "Oh, I wouldn't forgot it, and I'd make sure no one else did, either"), or other longer-term approaches to retribution mean that the slighted party is holding on to the anger and feeding it rather than moving on. That's self-destructive, not healing.

In this instance dejah420 has already started to make peace with what happened, and I say good for dejah. But as my mom used to say, "Be careful who you mess with, because you never know for sure how they'll choose to respond."

I agree with your mom. That doesn't mean I'll agree that a given response is appropriate or proportional to the offense.

If Mrs. CakeVandal hadn't been able to rely on the tolerance of the other people at the party, she might've thought twice before she destroyed that cake.

Perhaps, or perhaps she wasn't capable of that level of rational thought at the time, which seems likely to me.
posted by notashroom at 7:28 AM on June 10, 2009


But there was no scene. I would be willing to bet money that other than her, her husband, my best friend, myself and one other friend, nobody else knew what happened. I covered for it. She'd pushed the bees down their sticks...impaling them Vlad-style, so I just stuck them in a bowl of cherries, we cut the rest of the cake into slices, and put the remaining flowers on the pieces. I pointedly ignored the flowers that had been put all over the house, and when anyone would find them and ask me I would shrug and say "I couldn't tell ya."

Nooooo, no no no no...

Ok, you do not want to be the sort of person that holds a grudge to the extent that people start viewing *you* as the one with the problem (explanation: Neat psychological studies have shown people associate the qualities somone describes OTHERS with, with the person doing the describing. Fixating on crazy persons just contaminates you with the perception of crazy. Complimenting others has an external reward as well!)

But - the situation is not just you, cakeVandal, and your friend birthdayGirl, it's the whole social group. Personally, as a guest I would want to know that had happened, because I'd like to be informed before say, inviting her to my party. It's not just the aggrieved parties who are affected by this. I've had people along at parties when it's turned out they had a history of being extremely aggressive when drunk, and proceeded to display it. If I'd known, I could have avoided the situation, and continued seeing them at non-drinking social occasions.

Why do people assume gossip is always a bad thing? Do you view ebay feedback as negative when you're about to make a transaction?
I've been gradually coming round to this realisation. The problem is only when people engage in negative, unproductive gossip - the distinction I make, is between gossiping about 'opinions' and gossiping about 'behaviours'.
I don't appreciate hearing about someones negative, unfounded opinions 'I just don't like that person, I think they're creepy' - but someone's behaviour is fair game in a social group, and the only way to establish a pattern of abusive behaviour on one hand, and enforce social norms on the other.

Re: Cakevandal
I'd admit to one or two close friends, who know the social group or the individual in question, what happened, in fairly circumspect terms.
So, just the rundown. Yes, say that you're pretty sad about it, but that the birthday girl is over it, and no, you have no idea why or what was going on, but you don't know them (cakevandal) very well, and then refuse to speculate why they did it.
Don't bitch about that person, just admit that you're still a bit upset, and then - don't bring it up again. Don't repeat it.

And yeah, know that you've been as reasonable as possible under the circumstances, and let it go. :)
posted by Elysum at 9:49 PM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


notashroom--

"Mere" is your characterization, not mine.

And "slight" was your characterization, which struck me as quite dismissive of the two weeks of hard work that went into that cake.


It's entirely unacceptable, but the recipient got the primary gift -- the knowledge of the time and effort put forth to create a thing of beauty for her -- and it was a cake, meant to be eaten that day anyway. That this obviously disturbed individual vandalized the cake is disturbing and hurtful, but perspective is useful. No one was injured. The gift was received. The cake was eaten and enjoyed. No property intended to be durable was destroyed.

Absolutely correct. And if dejah had picked up a $10 cake on the way to the party for BirthdayFriend, I would probably agree with you. But she didn't do that. dejah put in two weeks of hard work and research (remember: the BirthdayFriend had requested a certain flavor and dejah had to to come up with that flavor from scratch, which included making some experimental cakes to get to the flavor she wanted) to bring that cake into exisitence. I don't know if you've ever baked before, but that's making a significant time, energy, resource, and probably emotional investment into a single cake.

dejah didn't just whip this together one morning. She spent as much time making that one cake as artists I know spend on a woodcarving or a painting or a piece of jewelry they're making. Perspective is, as you say, useful, and dejah's work should be included in it, which is why I find the "Yeah, you put some work into it, but it's just a cake" replies so frustrating. It was a cake made using special methods, for a special person on her special day, to be used to celebrate in a specific, special way. It was not "just a cake".


The offense is worse because it's clearly an irrational act?

Yes, because a rational, plotted, pre-meditated, focused malicious act can be understood and defended against. There's usually a specific target or targets, and the person initiating the act usually tries to contain collateral damage. You usually have an idea what it will take to keep further incidents from happening again. And at least you usually have the satisfaction of knowing why the person did it.

Irrational ones come out of nowhere when you least expect it and have no way to deal with it. They're completely random and give no regard to collateral damage. And you may never really know why the person did it, so you've no idea if they'll try something else again.


I can see that, to a degree, in terms of a one-off revenge scenario. But campaigns to ensure that everyone who knows her knows what she did (such as, "Oh, I wouldn't forgot it, and I'd make sure no one else did, either"), or other longer-term approaches to retribution mean that the slighted party is holding on to the anger and feeding it rather than moving on. That's self-destructive, not healing.

It ain't retribution if it's self-destructive. That's missing the point. You're supposed to destroy the other person.

Having "not forgotten" before, I can assure you that it certainly doesn't require multiple long-term, campaigns (And, really, what's the point of that? We're talking basic social revenge here, not some sort of Old Testament punishment).

No, it's simply a matter of making sure the right people know the facts, and that can usually be done in a matter of minutes. All you have to do is confirm what happened and how it affected you. After that, you can toss your anger aside and move on. The gossip network will take care of the rest.

It's the old military principle that sometimes well-placed intelligence wins more battles than a full-on assault. Using gossip to your advantage is an easy and effective way to apply retribution. It's so easy, in fact, that most people do it without even realizing that they've done it. They see themselves as "sharing" or "venting" or some-such, but if they do so to the right person(s), word gets out, people remember these things, and consequences eventually follow.

There's some sort of stereotype out there that makes people think someone seeking revenge is constantly consumed by it, staying up late at night smoking cigarette after cigarette, obsessively plotting out elaborate schemes against the offending party, so blinded by rage and hate that s/he can't see how his/her soul is being devoured by the need for REVENGE! (distant echo: REVENGE! Revenge! revenge! reven...!)

Maybe that's the case for the truly deranged. But in real life, more often revenge is applied over drinks with The Girls, when one of them brightly asks, "So, how did the birthday party go? I know you were working really hard on that cake." You sigh, deliver the facts, add "I'm still just so hurt by what Mrs. CakeVandal did. I mean, how could she? But what can you do? I guess I'll get over it eventually. Whatevs, I'm not talking about it anymore" and change the subject. When you see eyes narrowing around the table, you know your work is done, you really won't ever have to talk about it again, and you can let the healing begin.

There's also the humor approach to revenge, which is most effective if the offending party is also known to have a sense of humor. If Mrs. CakeVandal actually joins in, then she's effectively admitting to everyone that she was wrong.

And if laughing together over the incident helps dejah and Mrs. CakeVandal become buddies, then dejah will have achieved the sneakiest, most insidious, most permanent, and ultimately best form of revenge known to man--dejah will have literally eradicated her enemy from the face of the earth and replaced her with a friend. In my experience, that's more satisfying than even Drinks with The Girls, and worth a little extra plotting.


I agree with your mom. That doesn't mean I'll agree that a given response is appropriate or proportional to the offense.

Of course. But unless your family and/or friends are somehow involved in an incident, then your agreement is neither necessary or desired.



Perhaps, or perhaps she wasn't capable of that level of rational thought at the time, which seems likely to me.

I'm neither a psychologist or a psychiatrist, so I have no idea if it's likely or not.

dejah did say that Mrs. CakeVandal has an established rep for being tacky, socially clueless, and inept, so it's equally possible that what we may be looking at here is a good ol' fashioned case of pure, unmedicalized douchebaggery.

It does make one wonder, though, what Mr. & Mrs. CakeVandal add to this social group. I mean, these people keep letting them hang around, which implies that the couple must have some worth.


Anyway, I say good luck to dejah420. And I meant to mention it before--your cakes looked awesome!
posted by magstheaxe at 8:49 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


[comment removed - this is starting to go into "should send this to email" territory.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:16 PM on June 12, 2009


I can't believe people are congratulating you for yelling at her. As much as I sympathize with your situation, the party wasn't about you or your cake.

Imagine you were in your best friend's shoes. What would you rather have: a slightly ruined cake, or one of your friends running off in tears? Birthday parties aren't really about the gifts or rituals, you know.

Don't hold a grudge, and apologize to your best friend, if you think it's appropriate.
posted by archagon at 3:03 AM on June 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Apologize for being so angry, and explain to her what you just explained to us.

Otherwise, she'll focus on how she felt after you yelled at her instead of ever realizing why you were that upset. And you'll be at war with someone, forever, for no real reason.

If she doesn't feel at least a little bad about what she did, there's not much chance she's learning new tricks on this one at our age. If that's the case, avoid her until it's amusing to look back at this one.
posted by talldean at 9:15 PM on June 18, 2009


This sounds like autistic behavior to me. It's not something someone with normal social skills does.

Don't hold a grudge, but don't leave that person unsupervised, either. If you can't bear her behavior, there's no reason to be her friend, but unless she was acting out of malice (and the incident sounds too bizarre to involve malice) then there's no reason to be her enemy.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:22 PM on September 11, 2009


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