I’ve written over the years about my unabashed, insatiable, down-right fanatical love for seven-layer cake.
At break-fast on Yom Kippur, I don’t consider it sacrilege to eat seven-layer cake before indulging in lox and bagels. And I’m not ashamed to admit — well, maybe a little ashamed — that I’ve left shivahs disappointed that seven-layer wasn’t served.
Conversely, I was so moved once by the availability of seven-layer cake at a shivah that I actually brought one to the following night’s service out of guilt for how much I had consumed.
I will not dare venture into the debate over what local proprietor makes the best seven-layer cake; our society is already mired in too much divisiveness to try and have a rational conversation about that. But within the last couple of weeks, I did find myself in a rather dramatic situation involving 7LC at Diamond Bakery in West Bloomfield. I mention the establishment only as a point of fact, not as an admission of preference.
Turns out this particular seven-layer “situation” was my closest brush with living out a real-life, iconic episode of Seinfeld (Season 7, Episode 11-The Rye.) It was, for me, life imitating art.
In The Rye, Jerry, on a mission to buy a marble rye at Schnitzer’s Bakery, witnesses an elderly woman purchasing the last loaf. He stalks the woman outside the store, even offering her $50 for the elusive loaf. When she refuses, he, in what can only be described as a crime of passion, snatches the bread out of the unsuspecting senior’s hands and runs off into the night. Cut to “real life.”
Several days ago, I entered Diamond Bakery 10 minutes before closing on what was an impromptu visit to purchase just one slice of seven-layer cake which I fully intended to eat at red lights on the drive home. (FYI … I do not text and drive.)
To my horror, the only other patron in the bakery, Ellen, was in the process of purchasing the last two individual slices — one for herself and her friend Pat. I reacted like a deer caught in the headlights as I watched the transaction unfold, in what seemed like slow motion, as I bellowed: “Nooooooooo!”
It turns out that Ellen, a former Detroiter visiting from Grand Rapids, had driven out of her way to pick up some cherished seven-layer as she passed through town. While I never “seriously” entertained the idea of snatching the cakes from this innocent woman’s hands, I did, for a moment like Jerry, consider offering her a generous mark-up on the pieces.
“Feeling my pain,” Ellen, in what can only be described as a selfless act of humanitarianism, offered to surrender one of her slices. Was I tempted to accept her offer? You bet I was. I came “this close” — about the width of one layer — to swallowing my pride in order to have a shot at swallowing some cake. But I saved myself from myself and graciously but painfully declined. For showing this level of restraint, everyone thinks I should win the Nobel “Piece” Prize; though I would never say it.
“Perhaps” I may be overstating the emotional impact this had on me, but having come so close to a piece of seven-layer cake, only to be denied it, gave me a much greater appreciation of how Moses must have felt when God forbid him to enter the Promised Land. Poor Moses didn’t have an alternative. Me? I bought a giant chocolate chip cookie instead.
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Alan Muskovitz is a writer, voice-over/acting talent, speaker, emcee and guest host on the Mitch Albom Show on WJR AM 760. Visit his website at laughwithbigal.com and “Like” Al on Facebook.