From the Sky - Part XVII

I suppose I was the same way when I was younger.

My father would have a chore and I would vanish. I wasn't ducking the work, honestly. There were just so many other things to do, things more exciting than housework, and I wanted to do them all. If my father could track me down, yes, I worked hard for him. Tracking me down was the difficult part. My aunts joke that I am, amongst other things, payback against my father's karmic debts for his tendency to disappear at chore time when he was a teenager.

The last Tarantella picnic was complicated by a pair of weddings, each requiring a cake. The bakery never did wedding cakes on picnic weekend, but this one time exceptions were made. The first cake was for Alberto's daughter, Camille. Alberto, I may have mentioned, was the head of the bakery crew. He'd worked for Grandfather and Uncle for as long as anyone could remember. Uncle Gio once told me a stork left baby Alberto on a sack of flour. He said Alberto made bread from the day he was old enough to knead dough. I never met Alberto. I've only seen his picture. He vanished from the lives of the Tarentella's after the bakery closed. The other cake was for Bitsy Clancy, a councilman's daughter.

Neither exception to the "no cakes during picnic week" rule would have been granted if the weddings weren't Sunday affairs. A Sunday was chosen by the brides for the same reason: nothing else was available and waiting longer would mean letting their wedding dresses out. Way, way out. Alberto was first to ask. Given the delicacy of his daughter's situation and Alberto's devotion to the bakery, Uncle and Grandfather said yes, of course. When Big Jim Clancy came to the bakery a few days later to plead for a wedding cake on the same Sunday, Grandfather and Uncle assented. After all, what was one more wedding cake when they were baking anyway? It would also take the edge off of a very expensive weekend for the business, as the cake for Alberto's daughter was a gift from my family.

Cramming these cakes in on picnic weekend was almost logistically impossible. It meant that picnic or no picnic two huge cakes needed baking and decorating in the midst of all the usual picnic insanity. Grandfather, Uncle, Alberto (who wanted a hand in creating his daughter's masterpiece) and Zia pledged to have both cakes ready on time.

"It made the week all the crazier," Sal once said to me. "But how could Papa and Gio they turn down Alberto? He'd given his whole life to the bakery, after all."

As an added wedding gift to Alberto's family, the reception would be held on the picnic grounds. The boys from the back pledged to stay up all night after the picnic and clean the grounds before going to work in the bakery, which would still open for half-a-day before closing again for the wedding. People still had to buy their bread and rolls after Sunday Mass, after all. Sal and Rae took care of the flowers for Camille's wedding. The caterer, impossible to get for a Saturday on less than a year's notice, was available for a Sunday reception. I'm sure Bitsy Clancy had similar good fortune with her arrangements. Sundays aren't big wedding days, after all, especially in Walnutwood.

With so many plates spinning, the least little thing might send one crashing to the floor. It would take great organizational skill for the Tarentella brothers to pull everything off. These were skills the brothers had in abundance, and they were buttressed by the similar and formidable skills of my aunts. It was a challenge, to be certain, but one well within the scope of their capabilities. The results? Well, let's just say they were mixed. Now let me tell you why, with two exceptions, it was a very bad weekend for love in Walnutwood…

Broken Hearts...


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