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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Penelope Memoli

We talked about it at first, how rude it would be to eat cake and leave. Then we joked about actually going to the people-next-door's party, eating their cake, and leaving. Then we actually went. And we thought we'd talk to the people there, but then we saw the lame dorm party with that creepy boy who touches everyone. Last night (drunk) Erin accidentally made out with him, and when she sent him away, he grabbed her boob on the way out. "Hey, I love you!" he'd said before honking and exiting.

Then we saw the cake, golden yellow, made by Stefanie who had made the last cake that wasn't for us. The people next door's cake was an 18 incher decorated with blue and white frosting, warm and gooey on the inside and crunchy on the outside because it'd been left out too long. Three girls, two napkins, one plate, half a phucking phat cake. Man that was a good cake, and I don't even like cake. It looked like crap cake, the kind of cake you find at school orchestra pot lucks and poor kid birthday parties, but it wasn't crap cake; it was a version of crap cake that didn't taste like crap. It looked cheap, sitting there in the dented old pan, black with decades of old grease. But the cake contained therein was solid but light, and it didn't fall apart and what did could easily be glued back on with yummy frosting. About three minutes later when it was all gone, we scraped the sides of the pan and mashed what was left into a big ball. And while we did all this we were trying desperately not to spit chewed up cake out of our mouths from laughing too hard at the thought of how rude we were being. The dorky people at the party thought we were crazy, watching us pig out from where they sat on the couch with their second beers, huddled around an Adam Sandler movie. Maybe we made them feel better about themselves; like, at least they aren't acting like us. Then we started babbling about how we should make a movie about going to the room next door to eat cake and leave and it would show us eating cake and leaving and between the eating and the cake and the leaving it would show us saying that we should make a movie about eating their cake and leaving and then in the movie we would talk about how we could talk about making a movie about it in the movie. It'd be like one of those infinite things; like when you look at a mirror in a mirror and it goes on forever.

Cake goes on forever. When you move in with a cake girl, you get lots of cake. Yesterday was Stefanie's birthday and her mom made her a big cake. Imagine, a cake made by the person who taught the girl who makes the best cake in the world how to make cake! Yum. It was decorated plain yellow, and encased in a clear plastic box looking deceptively like a shitty cake from the outside. But when we saw it come in that morning with Stefanie's parents we knew it had something to do with her, so it had to be a good cake. And it was in an 18 inch pan, so even if it was a crappy cake, at least we had a lot of it. The only thing between us and the cake was the awful fact that Stefanie was drunk in a room somewhere and couldn't be found; so we couldn't ask her if we could eat her cake. We went from floor to floor listening by each door for a party and checking each one for the curly haired girl in the tiara. We couldn't find her anywhere. So we started to think of a plan to get her cake.

We could say someone stole it. Yeah, some thugs came and started a big party and a bunch of bad kids came and stole your cake. Or we could cut it in half and take a long skinny piece from the middle. But it was in the same pan it was baked in; she would notice if the cake was suddenly too small for the pan, and besides, that would never be enough cake for four girls, especially since two were on the rag. We could say that girl Lindsey with the pear shaped head came over and ate it all, we don't like her anyway.

But it didn't matter. It almost seemed as though we might just end up telling her Kari ate it. The plastic lid clicked open with a snap. Kari was poking her skinny hippie fingers into the cake. She licked icing off of her dirty finger nail.

"I messed up the icing you guys!" Kari yelled from the kitchen. "We might as well just eat it cuz it's totally fucked up!"

"Kari, NO!"

"Kari, there's birthday candles next to that cake, we think they're going to decorate it, it's not for us!"

We rushed into the kitchen to see the damage. It wasn't anything we couldn't fix with a butter knife, which we did. "Here Kari, eat a donut, you won't be in as much trouble if you eat that."

Stefanie's family came back the next day with presents and streamers and balloons and even happy-birthday tiaras, since Stefanie doesn't like to wear hats. They're such a nice family. They thought it would be nice to give her a party in her dorm room with her dorm friends, just like they would if she was at home. They didn't know that she'd had her real party last night, the effects of which were still pounding in the back of her head.

"Stefanie, where is your birthday cake?"

Stefanie ran into the kitchen to show her absentminded mother the yellow birthday cake sitting on the counter. But it wasn't there.

Penelope Memoli is addicted to chapstick. Contact her w/ e-mail: princesssmoon@hotmail.com.