Friday, 19 July 2013

Free Cake

A few of you have sent me the story of the 26 year old Single girl who has been baking cakes and taking them to bars around Los Angeles in a quest to find a husband. Here's her blog. It's subtitled "Attempting to Lure Boys with Sugar", which I find endearing.

It gives me an idea. It's for a dating website for women who want to be housewives.  Normally I hate dating websites because they are ALLLLLL about judging men and women on their looks and spelling, but I would see this as a gift to the women of the world who abhor the marketplace and just want a husband and home to take care of, but are afraid to say so.

I'm talking the women who want to get up at seven to feed the illicit chickens in the shed before before making muffins for the family. The women who actually enjoy doing the laundry and the ironing and the mending. (Mending?) Women who get out there and do the weeding before the sun gets too high and who prefer to dry the sheets out on the line because a dryer would just not replicate that great dried-outdoors smell. Women whose homes smell like lavender and baking and breezes. Women who could run a flat on their grad school husband's measly stipend, and women who could run a house on their blue-collar man's growing zillions. Women whose special joy is making cakes. Women who get that there are groaning millions who dream of staying at home.  Because there are men who want to marry women like that, only they don't know where to find them.

But back to the cake girl.

On the one hand, the cake girl is doing right. She is a Searching Single, so she correctly divines that she has to live in public in order to meet men. You can live in public just by having a popular blog or by writing a column in a newspaper, but the cake girl takes it to the streets or, rather, the bars.

On the other hand, the cake girl is going to bars.

I know women who met their husbands in bars, but those women were the waitresses. The husbands were regulars. The bar was either an extension of the husbands' living-room or the husband came in one day and thought,  "Gosh, this girl is really, really pretty, and conveniently I don't even have to ask her phone number to see her again. I can just come back." These were not men who went to bars to get loaded or have a fling, or to get loaded AND have a fling. Bars are full of men who go to bars with their friends to get loaded or to hunt for flings. They do not go to bars intending to find wives.  At least, I don't think so. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Bars are places of jollity and misrule, and if some zany girl offers you free cake in one, well, that's pretty well in keeping with jollity and misrule. Of course, you are taking a risk by eating food offered by a complete stranger, as a street-person once told me when I tried to offload some day-old muffins on him. But never mind that. If a pretty girl offers you cake, the least you can do is eat it.

On the other hand, cake is not that hard to come by.

Any able-bodied man with an oven, a cake-pan, a bowl, a spoon, butter, sugar, eggs, self-raising flour, and an orange can make a cake. Alternatively, he can go to a bakery and buy one. Of course, a bakery cake might not taste like the cakes his mother used to make because his mother did not make cakes. My mother makes cakes, but my mother was born before the Korean War. The smell of home-baked cakes no longer evokes the memory of a hard-working woman who smelled like lavender, baking and breezes looking fondly at her great-souled, workin'-man husband as he said, "Gosh, Lucinda. This sure is good cake." The smell of home-baked cakes no longer makes a man think, "Ya know, I want a girl who is just like the girl who divorced married Dad." At least, probably not in L.A.

But to go back to the first hand, it's a good excuse to meet people.

But on the other hand again, it's a bad idea to tell complete strangers that handing out cake is your husband-hunting strategy.

If I were the cake girl--and I have a lot of admiration for Cake Girl, and I hope she gets a cookbook contract out of this--I would not give away my cakes for free. I would still take my cakes to bars, but I would raffle them off for a guaranteed crowd-pleasing cause, like the Veteran's Association. This way I would still have an excuse to talk to everyone in the bar, and it would be for a much more noble-sounding cause. A girl in a pretty dress who offers strangers free cake is a zany free spirit, but a girl in a pretty dress who bakes cakes to raise money for wounded soldiers is the female embodiment of America the Beautiful.

To conclude, I don't think creativity, kooky and cake is enough to capture the male imagination. Men respect chutzpah, but they will commit only to character. If I asked, I would recommend that cake girl combine her fun idea with another cause she believes in. "I wanna husband" is not so attractive. "I'm open to meeting great people as I voluntarily--and creatively--raise money for others"--that, if so obvious it need not be said, is attractive.


Jackie said...

Her blog looks like it has some *great* recipes! I definitely want to try baking some of them! And she seems to have a sweet (ha ha!) and generous spirit.

Something I thought of, when viewing her "strategy," were the words of one of my mentors before beginning my own business:

Namely, people LOVE getting stuff for free but they will never, ever respect you for it. People will respect what they had to work to attain. (Interestingly, after I raised my rates, the troublesome clients flew the coop and the ones who remained were MORE appreciative.)

How does this relate to cake girl, I wonder? Your idea of raffling towards a good cause is so fantastic, because the cake becomes much more than a freebie. (And brings about good by raising money for a cause in the competition for it.)

I guess I'm just thinking, Wow, this girl is ponying up a lot of time, $ for ingredients and in a hot kitchen in July no less.

I am thrilled she is getting tons of press and hope she gets her book deal. I just would hate to see some girl following this strategy, knocking herself out in a hot kitchen for a bunch of strangers in a bar who will gladly eat free cake without a second thought.

Doing it out the goodness of one's heart is one thing. And a wonderful thing at that! Doing it to somehow entice a man, "lure him with sugar," - the only thing you'll know for sure is he is a guy who likes getting nice things for free.

(Sorry if this comes across as negative! I don't mean to be down on generosity. I just feel like I see *so* many girls giving, giving, GIVING good things for free. All in the hopes that it will "earn" them commitment from a man. And it never seems to work that way.)

Magdalen said...

I remember something about a "no baking just for Single Men" rule, and I've definitely stuck to it, happy to bring things to parties and potlucks that I've baked, but never to bake them specifically for a young man unless he's my young man ;)

Seraphic said...

Jackie, exactly right. People tend not to value that which they get for free from strangers, whether it is sex or cake or whatever.

Yes, I am thinking of the cost! Quality ingredients are expensive! It's not a cheap hobby, cake-baking.

Magdalene, I'm glad you remembered my rule. No special baking for single men! Bring great baking to parties so all to enjoy and admire!

TRS said...

I'm game for the housewife dating site! I've considered the theory that one should dress for the job they want, not the job they have... So I've considered wearing yoga pants and spit up stained shirts because the job I want is stay at home mom!

Julia said...

TRS, you made me laugh a lot with that one!!

One of the 'housewife' stereotypes around where I live is that she's in her mid-thirties, white, tall, slim, wears her blonde hair in a ponytail and is constantly out jogging in a pink tank-top and yoga pants while pushing around a double-decker pram. She has a postgraduate qualification and is married to a stockbroker, and spends time drinking lattes in cafes with other women like her.

Jackie, I agree that there are women who give waaay too much, especially to men, and not only physically/sexually. My guess is that the best thing that could come out of Audrey Shulman's strategy is that book deal. I think gaining a husband out of this is a little unlikely, maybe especially since she's revealed that as her aim, but I would love to hear that she's signed a book deal.

Julia said...

Just to be clear, TRS, you made me laugh in a good way, not a condescending way :)

Seraphic said...

Wow. The stereotypical housewife sure has changed! Evidently that stereotypical housewife has a nanny.

I recommend vintage. As nobody can actually say "I want to be a housewife!" the only thing she can do is evoke the early to mid 20th century. Maybe she could drop into conversation the latest piece of Fiesta-ware she found at a junk sale, or describe her victory over spilled wax with a cool iron.

Julia said...

Yep! That stereotypical housewife would have a nanny and probably a cleaning lady too.

Actually I read an article about two months ago in a weekend magazine that's part of a major national newspaper and it was about women who have left high-status, high-paying jobs in order to be at home with their children and be 'traditional' wives. So I think that a shift in attitude regarding 'housewives' might be happening. However, these women are VERY privileged and financially secure, so their experience of being a stay-at-home mum seems to involve running a 'mummy blog' and making biscuits rather than stretching a budget.

Seraphic said...

That's not such a great stereotype either! It does, however, suggest that women long not just to be rich and pretty but to stay at home with their children as a kind of almost-impossible fantasy, which is sad. Not all housewives look like slatterns, and not all housewives live lives of untroubled ease. My housewife mother, who has five kids, was kept very busy with cooking, cleaning, banking, grocery shopping, our doctor's appointments, our hockey practice, etc., etc., and went out for cappuccinos with "the girl" exactly never. The closest she came to that sort of thing was the annual Catholic Women's League convention.

Urszula said...

Wow, thanks for bringing this to our attention - a very interesting idea! I agree with you and the other commentors that as a male-snagging strategy it's probably not the best. For me, it comes across as slightly desperate (really, will men only like her because of her baking skills? What about her sweet character, fun sense of humor, general zaniness?). I would be a suspicious of a man who fell for this strategy - it would likely be someone who wouldn't really want to make an effort for anything.

I like your raffle idea and I've always found baking cakes and cookies for potlucks (or even regular parties - nobody ever complains if you bring cookies instead of beer!) is always appreciated. I also like to feed people (part of being Polish?) so I routinely bring baked goods to work. It's a nice way of showing my colleagues I appreciate them.