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Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: Strange stories? This one takes the cake


January 26. 2014 3:37PM

My friend's birthday is tomorrow. I think I will get him a cake. Or perhaps I will suggest he stand at an intersection, holding one of those handwritten "help" signs. Someone may come along and give him a cake.

Like another friend of mine did.

Friend two, we will call him "John," had a dilemma the other day. It was his wife's birthday and he went to the store and ordered a chocolate cake and asked that the baker write "Happy Birthday" to his wife in the frosting.

As he waited, he noticed another chocolate cake, but with much better frosting, the kind his wife really likes.

What to do?

I would have canceled the first cake and bought the second one but "John" being "John," he didn't want the baker to go to the trouble for nothing, so he had the second cake suitably inscribed and bought both.

He then had the dilemma of two cakes and he didn't want his wife to know that he had messed up so ... that's where the story intersects at the intersection.

"John" drives by this guy with the sign on a regular basis. This time, he stopped, lowered the window (in his used BMW), and said, "Hey, want a cake?"

Now, this guy no doubt gets all kinds of reactions from motorists. Some may simply ignore him. Some are probably less than friendly with words or gestures. And some probably do give him the odd dollar or change.

But other than Marie Antoinette, who drives up in their Beemer and hands out cake?

From the suspicious, hesitant look the guy gave "John," it sounded like the Seinfeld episode where Jerry tries to give away his car with the rampant, mutant body odor.

But the guy took the cake. For all "John" knows, the guy may be expecting cigars and champagne on the next run.

Our second story of the unexpected this week comes from a small group of retired teachers who meet regularly for lunch and laughs at a local cafeteria. They were doing so the other day when a woman who had been at another table came over and told them she hoped they were leaving soon because they had been loud and disruptive.

How rude, said one retiree.

But then another said she knew who had shusshed them.

It was a retired school librarian.

Some habits are tough to kick.

Write to Joe McQuaid at or via Twitter at @deucecrew.

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