One of the guys in the detachment celebrated his 39th birthday today, which coincided with our "personal maintenance day", so a party of sorts was in order. We've had a few birthdays among our crew, but either work interfered or the birthday person was reluctant to celebrate. Actually, the dude today didn't want a party, but we ignored his wishes because we wanted to eat cake.
I volunteered to procure said cake, having seen them in the freezer at our Post Exchange. Our mess hall also is supposed to make cakes for unit celebrations, but they require 30 days notice, so that option was a big no-go. I stopped by the PX after work last night, grabbed the only pre-decorated cake available, and headed for the cashier. Mind you, this was not a big spectacular cake, it was only about the dimensions of my laptop computer, just a couple of inches thicker. Back home, this quarter-sheet cake costs about nine bucks, and there was no price tag on either the cake or the shelf. When Muhjibar from Mumbai (I'm not making that up) scanned the bar code on the package, he gasped and pointed to the display. "Sir, this appears to be a $40 pastry...do you still wish to purchase?" I thought Muhjibar was messing with me, so I responded, "Gee, at that price I'll take five!", but then I took a closer look at the cash register and uttered my favorite German phrase..."Heilige Scheisse!" I don't believe Muhjibar speaks German, but my shocked tone was multilingual,, causing Muhjibar to shake his head and growl, "Bloody rip-off wallahs!" Once we ascertained there was no mistake, I decided to complete my purchase, as there was no reasonable alternative. (Everyone chipped in, so I didn't lose my shirt on the deal.)
The next day, our party was typical deployment style. We got Iraqi pizzas to go, went back to the office and watched a movie, "Team America, World Police" which is the perfect birthday party flick, ("Durka durka!") and did the traditional "Happy Birthday" song while presenting the cake (sans candles, which are prohibited for some odd reason). So, how did that $40 cake taste? Well, everyone had two pieces, it was that tasty. It was baked in Germany, had whipped cream frosting, and was pretty fresh considering it had been frozen a couple of weeks ago, flown to Kuwait, and then trucked to Baghdad. The Birthday Boy was happy, which is what really counts.
Now if we were on the front lines, I suppose we could have taken an MRE pound cake, mixed up peanut butter and cocoa powder frosting, and lit a piece of C-4 for a candle, but since we are on a civilized base, acting like infantrymen in a foxhole would have been kind of poser-like. (Credit for the combat cake recipe goes to Chris and Ted...Thanks, guys!)