Do you ever find yourself amused (and amazed) by peoples' white trash antics?
Sunday, December 5, 2010
101 uses for fruitcake
Does everyone hate fruitcake? I know for a fact that my dad loves it. He only likes one kind though, and that's Claxton. Claxton, GA is a little town in middle Georgia. As far as I know, they do not grow any of the fruits typically baked into a fruitcake, but apparently that doesn't matter, because they were grown before any of us was born anyway.
When I was a little girl, my mom used to make all three of us kids go to visit her friend every Christmas, an elderly woman in an upscale retirement community here in Atlanta. She would make me take my ukulele and play songs for her, and we would all get to take a piece of candy off her Christmas candy wreath that she hung on her door. That was pretty much the highlight of our trip. All three of us knew what was coming before we would leave. Mrs. Washington (the elderly lady) would drag out a fruitcake and share a piece with all of us. Not a big deal really, unless you consider all the factors at play.
First, my mother had a hard and fast rule about food offered by someone else: you had to eat it, no matter what. I think this rule is a direct result of her growing up during the Great Depression. Food was never a given, never to be taken for granted. This was a problem for kids of Depression-era parents. We ended up overweight and were conditioned to eat dog poop if someone handed it to us on a napkin.
Now Mrs. Washington's fruitcake was not of the Claxton variety. I'm sure it was a very expensive delicacy, and I am doubly sure it was soaked in rum or brandy. It was crammed with petrified, gelatinous fruits and nuts; there was no eating "around" the fruits, like you can with a Claxton in a pinch. My siblings and I would eye each other as she produced the cake and carefully sliced off a tiny, one-lb. hunk for each of us. We'd try NOT to look at each other as we took the first of what seemed like hundreds of tiny bites, our mother looking on to catch any signs of a gag or an attempt to wad up the confection in a napkin. She never missed a trick. I will never forget those annual pilgrimages to see Mrs. Washington and her never-ending fruitcake, God rest her soul. I wonder if they buried the cake with her.
Second, I think I always left her apartment in the retirement community with a buzz, though I didn't recognize it for what it was at the time. Apparently both rum and brandy increase in potency when paired with candied fruit. Someone asked me the other day that old familiar question, "If you were stranded on a desert island, what's the one thing you'd want with you?" I answered, "fruitcake." Portioned out sparingly, you could live off of just one for decades. And if it's one of those expensive ones, you could keep just enough of a buzz to not care that you were stranded on a desert island.
Because of this childhood trauma that has obviously never left me, I have always enjoyed the seasonal jabs people take at fruitcake. These are just a few of the suggested uses I've heard over the years. Some I've added myself. Can you guess which are original and which are borrowed? . . .
Door stop, paperweight, tire chuck, footstool, coffee table, curling stone (the most boring Olympic sport EVER), Christmas tree stand (just shove the trunk right down into the middle of it), the last gift you'll ever have to give someone, blunt object with which to stun an ex-spouse.
If you have additional uses you'd like to share with readers, please do!