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Tuesday, May 3, 2011


So here we are.
The past seven days have been, to say the least, chock-full of important news. Devastation and death in the South, the marriage of a future King, the long-form birth certificate, and of course, at long last, the elimination of The Elusive One. Heady, heavy stuff, all of which will wind up in history books.
While the masses waved flags and breathed sighs of relief mixed with anxiety, I found myself vexed by the whims of a cupcake truck.
Before your commenting fingers get all judge-y, consider the following: the cupcakes were free, and they were from Sprinkles. 
I’ve sought out Sprinkles cupcakes whenever my travels have taken me to Los Angeles, and after years of patient waiting, their gradual expansion has finally brought them to my backyard. Their NYC location opens on May 13, and to publicize that, the Sprinklesmobile is in town this week to hand out free treats. You can chant “U-S-A!” all you like, but nothing screams sweet freedom quite like free deliciousness. 

You snark about cupcakes. I know you do. When I say “you,” I mean the royal you, but probably the specific you as well, because there’s quite the cupcake backlash afoot these days. It doesn’t surprise me, as this city has been overrun with what I like to call “pretty girl cuppies:” cute and lovely little pastel-dolloped cakes that are all sugar and no substance. Sprinkles passes my strict, Inspector 12-esque standards in quality, size, flavor, and frosting-to-cake ratio in a way that few others do. I fear for my waistline and wallet, but that’s another bridge and another blog.
For now, there was a truck to find.
This thing called Social Networking had informed me that the truck’s first stop of the week would be at Bloomingdale’s, but there was no time frame listed. So my husband and I made a simple plan on this day that we both happened to have off: to have lunch near the store, and then casually see if the truck was out. No biggie. If we got a cupcake, swell. If not, meh. 
The noon hour passed over lunch. Then we strolled to Bloomie’s. 
Here’s something you need to know about the Bloomingdale’s flagship store: it is an entire city block between 59th and 60th Streets, flanked on the East and West by 3rd and Lexington Avenues, respectively. So we walked around the block, just to make sure. There was no truck.
We ran a few errands and browsed the Container Store, then rounded the block again. It was 1:45. Still no truck. 
My husband suggested that perhaps we’d missed the truck. I disagreed. “No detritus,” I said.
“Detritus. No detritus. No wrappers or boxes or napkins stuffing up the wastebaskets, no frosting on the sidewalk. You give away free food in this city and it’s going to leave a trail of detritus.” 
(I love the word “detritus.” Use it and you’ll agree.)
I checked the Social Networking several times during this outing. Nothing about the truck. A million tweets about a dead terrorist whom everyone already knew was dead, but not a single one about a truck full of carbs.
So we headed home, making plans to pick up a loaf of bread on the way, when we saw it round the corner of 3rd and 60th: the Sprinklesmobile. It was really more van-like than truck-like, but no matter. Seeing the truck, seeing that it existed, changed everything. Now we simply had to see it through. I squeezed my husband’s hand and gasped. “It must be parking on Lexington,” I said, and we walked along 60th, following the truck as it crawled west in midday traffic.
But it didn’t turn onto Lex. It kept going. So we followed it until it turned north onto Park Avenue.
“Oh,” I said. “It was in the wrong lane and couldn’t turn onto Lexington. It’s going to circle around, up Park, across 61st, and then come back down Lexington.”
But it didn’t do that. Suddenly it was circling back to Park, then ambling across 59th Street, heading east.
“Oh,” I said. “Maybe it’s parking on the 3rd Avenue side of the store.” 
So we trekked to 3rd, keeping eyes on the truck, which then proceeded to continue east on 59th Street. We stood there, confused.
This went on for longer than we care to admit, and while the details of our journey aren’t important, they did involve my husband and I keeping watch on separate corners and communicating via cell:
“I have eyes a block south.”
“Standing by.”

“Wait, that’s a negatory, negatory... it is a sausage truck... I repeat, it is a sausage truck...”
Being as we’d lost sight of the truck, and that we are not as hearty as the Navy SEALs, at 2:30 we eventually abandoned our mission and headed up 3rd Avenue towards home, by way of picking up that loaf of bread.
Two blocks later, that damned Sprinklesmobile came out of nowhere and passed us. I stood there, frozen, gaping, not knowing what to do. My husband looked at me and laughed, because apparently I’d turned into Ahab, chasing this white whale. Without a word I stared at him, grabbed his hand, and turned back towards the store.
Two pointless circles around the Bloomie’s block later, having “lost eyes” again, I muttered, “I hate that truck.”
I didn’t hate that truck. Still, as soon as those words came out of my mouth and my husband dissolved in laughter, I knew it was time to just get the damned loaf of bread and call it a day.
My husband kept telling me what a great blog entry this story would make. I’m not so sure. 
I mean, it has a happy ending: eventually, Social Networking caught up with the truck once it found a place to park, which wound up being much closer to home than Bloomingdale’s was. We did each score a free cupcake at 5:15 PM, and it was delicious. 
Then we came home from that successful cupcake excursion to find a message on our machine -- yes, our old-school landline answering machine -- from a dear friend who is an L.A. transplant telling us that she’d just passed a Sprinkles truck in our neighborhood. (Now that’s social networking!)
But I’m not sure what the point of the story is. Is it that cupcakes taste better when you’ve walked around like a fool for more than an hour? Or is it just a tale told by an idiot whose priority is deliciousness, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing?
In any case, it’s free, and you didn’t even have to chase a truck.
Yes indeed. Welcome to me. 

Yes, I used the Social Networking today (thankfully you don't have to be on Twitter to look at Twitter) and even though there was no epic chase involved, I once again found the glorious Sprinklesmobile, driven by the fair Ellen -- or was it Emily?... oh dear, my brain is sugar-addled -- whom I shall now refer to as "my dealer." Some might call her "my pusher," but she really doesn't have to push this particular merchandise. She did, however, ply me with heretofore untasted flavors, and thusly I shall never be the same (size) again.

Like they say, first one's free. (Or first six.) Sorry Nancy Reagan... I cannot "just say no." I am not "above the influence." This is my brain on cupcakes. And yes, it does look like a fried egg.


  1. I did not know that it was possible to use Social Networking to get free cupcakes. I thought it was only for running fake internet farms and keeping track of people's birthdays.

    Could you do some kind of wiki on how, exactly, one uses the inter-ma-net to get free cupcakes? Thanks in advance.

  2. I'm sure a hard-won cupcake is the sweetest kind, and the calories were thoroughly pre-burned!

  3. It is for people like you I will never not cook. I'm glad to know the money I have spent going to pastry school is not for naught.