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Who Doesn’t Love a Cake Walk?

posted Monday November 11th, 2013


Last Friday night was the school fall festival — which really means only one thing, if you’re Sophie.

Last Friday night was the cake walk.

For the uninitiated: A cake walk is painfully simple. Each player (a dozen or so can play at a time) stands in a big circle, each on top of a different number on the floor. Music plays. You walk around the circle and when the music stops, stand on a number. This is not like musical chairs; none of the numbers disappear. You stand on one number and someone pulls a number out of a coffee can (it’s always a coffee can, even though I don’t know anyone who buys coffee in a coffee can anymore, so that’s a mystery) and there’s a winner.

Ray and I tag-teamed last Friday, so by the time I had picked Annabelle up from ballet and arrived with her at the fall festival, Sophie had already played the cake walk, oh, about a million times.

And she hadn’t won.

The prize, as you might have guessed, is a cake donated by a parent. When I was a kid, the cakes were all homemade and very fancy. These days they’re usually store bought and not so fancy. Still, it’s pretty cool to walk up to the table and pick your very own cake from an assortment of dozens. I still remember how exciting it was and so does my sister, who texted me in fury from her own kids’ festival a couple weeks ago, horrified because the woman running the cake walk was choosing the cake for each winner, instead of letting the kid choose.


Anyhow, back to Friday night’s cake walk. Sophie hadn’t won, and she wouldn’t leave the school gym. I handed her ticket after ticket and she walked under the fluorescent lights, her Yo Gabba Gabba tennies just a little too big, glasses sliding down her hopeful face, the fingers on each hand crossed and then her arms crossed over each other for good luck.

No win. After an hour or so, as tends to happen with Sophie, I noticed from my perch in the doorway that she’d made some friends. Someone got smart this year and got the members of an ASU sorority to volunteer at the festival, instead of parents, which at first made everyone do a double take. (“Where’d all the hot moms come from?” I imagined one dad asking another.)

The girls were young and sweet and they all had really long hair. They gathered around Sophie after each loss, hugging her and cheering her on. Finally, one of them took pity and I watched her eye Sophie’s number, pretend to draw from the coffee can, and announce with a little extra gusto, “Number 2!” Sophie’s number.

Typically I’m not in favor of cheating, but even I had to admit that it was time. The crowd was growing uneasy, watching those crossed fingers and arms.

You would have thought Sophie won the Powerball. She marched up to the table and after much deliberation chose a mangy looking homemade bundt cake with a sheet of Saran Wrap floating on top, not quite covering the cake. “Straight to the trash,” I muttered to myself, grinning and hugging Sophie, who posed with her cake as I took a photo.

“Hey, will you take a picture of us with her?” one of the sorority girls asked, holding out her phone.

“Ugh,” I thought, still smiling. Time for a split-second decision. These girls didn’t know Sophie, and now she was going to be on their Facebook pages and their Instagram feeds, their little mascot for the night. Poster child from a feel-good 15 minutes.

“Oh Amy,” I thought. “Get over yourself. For once, don’t be such a bitch. Just do it. They love her. What’s the harm?”

So I did it. And felt kind of gross about it, but decided by the next day that Sophie’s more of an ambassador than a mascot. Right?

Oh whatever.

I’d all but forgotten the whole thing by Sunday afternoon, when Annabelle, Sophie and I met our friend Abbie for coffee. Abbie is a freshman at ASU.

“Hey, my friend Chloe sent me your picture from Friday night,” Abbie said. “That’s so cool, you won the cake walk!”

I should have known. Sophie has fans all over town, and once they meet her they don’t forget her. Last month we walked into an ice cream parlor we hadn’t been in for at least a year and the owner said, “Hi Sophie!” (This could also be due to memorable bad behavior, but I’ll give the kid the benefit of the doubt for the purposes of this blog post.)

Very small world. Slightly chagrined mother. And days later, Sophie’s still telling people she won the cake walk.

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Tags: Filed under: Down syndrome by Amysilverman

3 Responses to “Who Doesn’t Love a Cake Walk?”

  1. Sooooo….did you keep the cake?

  2. What a positive-uplifting post. I do so enjoy hearing about Sophie. Wish we all had the same kind of attitude~ Go Sophie!!!

  3. While I understand what you’re saying as far as the mascot thing goes, to be fair, college girls take a MILLION pictures at every event.

    I was a camp counselor at that age, and later went on to become a teacher. There were tons of kids I took pictures with, simply because it was a great day, we had lots of fun, and I always wanted to remember that. Truth be told, you know Sophie’s enthusiasm is contagious, and they probably loved seeing her so happy.

    At least, that would have been my motive in asking for the picture when I was that age :)

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