Half A Dozen Cupcakes

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June 24th, 2010

The day didn’t start out well for me. There was an unusual amount of hair that had decided today was the day to end it all on the dry salt flats of my pillow. And the pounding headaches of the night before were telling me the poison was doing its work in the swanky penthouse […]

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The day didn’t start out well for me. There was an unusual amount of hair that had decided today was the day to end it all on the dry salt flats of my pillow. And the pounding headaches of the night before were telling me the poison was doing its work in the swanky penthouse upstairs where my brain entertains dignitaries, holds court with Bono and Sting, taps out bestsellers and does things I’ll keep to myself thank you very much.

The last thing I wanted was visitors.https://readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcCupcake_01.jpg

Or cupcakes.

And after my Mom and my niece and my wife came by, my hospital bed shouted to me. That’s exactly when dear friend Patty Montemurri showed up at my room with six designer cupcakes. You have to understand, newsrooms and baked goods go together like Woodward and Bernstein, (or Elrick and Schaefer).

I’m sick. It’s not the Leukemia though, it’s the lack now of an immune system. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t feel like the flu or a cold but if you bring in a stray spore from New Baltimore, it can turn into pneumonia. Not to put too fine a point on it, I have no grime fighting ability; neither bleach nor Borax.

Patty and I chatted, of course. She’s too wonderful a person to blow off. We became buddies at “that newspaper that laid me off.” I heard of the nuns who have me on their prayer wall and the news that the Free Press is turning back the clock and actually adding more sections to the paper. Thank goodness no more layoffs were possible under that plan.

We oohed and aahed over the cupcakes but she kept changing the place of the secondary thing, a large envelope in the shape of, yes, a cupcake as well.

“Get that filthy thing off my bed,” I kept thinking. “Do you have any idea where that could’ve been?” sounding like parents the world over.

It was obvious the gaudy cupcake was more important than our conversation so I reluctantly pulled on some rubber gloves and had a look.

“Great, a card. How nice,” I snidely continued in my head. The last time I got cards and baked goods from the Free Press was a year ago this week as I was shown the door. But the warmth in their greeting card messages then was sweeter and more potent to my soul than the delicious parties thrown for me by two entirely different departments.<

Okay, sure I’ll play the game we all play with Hallmark. You look at the cutesy message on the front and try to figure out what the punch line will be. I didn’t do so well.

Me, the purveyor of punch lines was punched right back with a sucker blow so unseen, so un-telegraphed that now, hours later, I’m astounded at its power. It pushed a year’s worth of anger at my former corporation out into the cancer ward and down into the sewers festering with expelled chemo.

Spilling from the card, along with the extra pages added due to too many greetings, were an insane number of portraits of pursed-lipped statesman Ben Franklin. And they were rectangular. And they were green.

“It’s from everyone,” Patty said, “from those who actually laid you off to people who just care.”

Here’s where I’ll pause for a brief note to all the guys out there. If you haven’t expelled tears or feel weird crying you really need to give it a shot and soon. Yes, you’ll probably do it alone, hidden in some deep corner of thought because that’s the way real men do things. But cry, damnit. Let it out; you’ll feel the positive effect within ten seconds. (Omari, B. Todd, Seidel are you listening?).

Convulsive waves washed over me and after time stopped standing still I went in for the hug. A masked, horrified Patty recoiled due to my litany about germs but there was something cosmically antiseptic in the air right then and I wasn’t going to be denied.

Here’s where I’ll pause one last time to say a cheap, far-too-cliche thank you to everyone at 615 West Lafayette. I don’t know if you realize it or not, but that family you’re part of — that family that we’re part of — sticks with you in ways both profound and pastry.

Okay, I’m looking for a way for Benjamin Franklin to wrap this up but I can’t seem to manipulate any of his quotes to do my bidding.

I’ll avoid that pitfall and just say newspapers are not corporations; they are made from the talent and excitement of individual people. It took me too much time to remember that. Every newsroom I’ve ever worked for has shared surprising and fun moments with me. Oh and the readers too.

They’re going through some intensive search engine optimization this week at the Free Press. I can’t repay my brothers and sisters for their kindness but maybe we can all click here once or twice just as a silent, mass thank you. www.freep.com

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