The final weekend of July took me to Ohio for my cousin's surprise 60th birthday party - one that set me on a mission to bake the perfect birthday cake to commemorate the occasion.
After various searches on craft and baking websites, I devised the perfect idea for Doris's cake. Since she had always gloried in the fact that she and Barbie were the same age, I came up with the plan to make a three tiered cake with an aged 60-year-old Barbie as the highlight. The way a 60-year-old Barbie should look, not the ageless slim blonde with waist length hair, long eyelashes and perfect flawless arms and legs that is displayed so prominently at certain stores!
Since I support buying local for our economy, I searched for a Barbie to fit my needs. Although Barbie has lead a full life with every possible vocation from a Bob Mackie model to astronaut to veterinarian to school teacher, she obviously still looks so young because she never married and never had children. The only glasses she's ever worn are sunglasses, and even though she's 60 now, she obviously never lost her original hair color or developed wrinkles or all the things that mark the aging process.
I therefore set out on a mission to transform Barbie into what she should look like at her age.
There have been few females who haven't fought aging and Barbie was no exception. I should have recognized and taken warning of that from the get-go, but I was on a mission and believed myself to be unstoppable. Barbie, however, had other ideas.
The first challenge came with cutting the waist length blonde hair to shoulder length. I commend those young girls who take on that task, since that hair simply slid through the scissors despite repeated attempts. It finally resulted with cousin Geri holding the hair out straight before we could maneuver the chopped crop style. Then came applying the silver metallic paint to the blonde hair - an effort only achieved by applying globs of paint onto the hair until it was stiff. An eyeliner pencil offered the application of lines on the forehead and eyes, even adding some "laugh lines" around the mouth. Whether it was the hot Ohio weather or Barbie's overall resistance to aging, the eyeliner smeared but refused to wipe off, giving her a rather blotched complexion that could have fit an older complexion.
Then came the task of the "granny" glasses that nearly every 60-year-old wears at some point. Cousin Rob found some copper wire, but my attempts to shape that wire into tiny hoops for glasses showed my lack of professional artistic training. For over an hour I worked with those glasses before making some semblance of tiny lenses, only to discover that the ends would not hook over her ears. A half hour later I was finally able to pierce a hole in each side of her head to hold the glasses steady on the bridge of her nose.
While I was struggling with the glasses, Rob was whittling out a walking cane to symbolize her true age.
The tedious ordeal left me exhausted so I decided to complete the decorating early Saturday morning since the party wasn't scheduled until 5 (6 for Doris).
But once again, Barbie had her own ideas.
First of all, she was too tall for the inverted pan that was to serve as the skirt of her outfit. I'd planned to add a chuck of cake to the back for the "middle age spread" so commonly associated with women. But the icing was too soft and began to slide down the cake! Then the back end came tumbling off, falling in a clump at the bottom. I had already revised my plan on the skirt, choosing to make it look like it flared out at the knees rather than the waist as originally intended. I carefully matched the floral design of her dress to the icing - which quickly slid into a heap at her feet. Then I tried to thicken the icing and stick it to the plastic wrap of her outfit and make the back flare out but that didn't work.
Geri and Rob meanwhile had left for the reception hall to decorate while I battled with Barbie to complete the cake. I reached a stopping point, cleaned up the kitchen, carefully carried the boxed cakes to my van, buckled them in the seat belts (yes, I really did!), and arrived just an hour before Doris was to arrive.
Imagine my utter humiliation when the Barbie cake was unboxed and we discovered that the icing really hadn't thickened - and the mixed yellow and chocolate cake had caused the icing to absorb colors, leaving a soiled trail down the back of Barbie's skirt along with the blob of icing that was supposed to represent the widened backside of aging Barbie sitting on the bottom of the box. Even more to my dismay was the fact that I always take extra icing for emergency repairs, but this time I had tossed all the extra icing into Geri's garbage can before leaving for the party. Panicked and furious, I scraped up some of the icing and did repair work as best I could and hoped others wouldn't know the difference.
Then came the task of putting the tiers together - another disastrous attempt. The columns simply would not fit onto the bottom of the cake plates regardless of several attempts, even from others already arriving at the party site. Another fruitless half hour passed before I disgustedly decided to set the second layer on the bottom layer and put Barbie over to the side.
The cakes, however, were good, despite all the frustration that Barbie had caused me, but the entire ordeal left me wanting to hide under the table rather than admit what a disaster the "perfect" cake had been. But it was with great pleasure that I packed the layer of Barbie cake into a box at the end of the evening, jerked the doll from the middle and told Doris, "She's all yours, now deal with her!"
Next, I'm writing Mattel to complain. If Barbie is really 60, she should have to show some signs of aging instead of turning my hair gray!