The Purple Rain cupcakes are simple but delicious. For the chocolate cake I used a box of Duncan Hines’ Devil’s Food cake mix, a small box of instant pudding mix, 1/3 of a cup oil, a cup of whipping cream, 4 eggs, and a generous tablespoon of vanilla. The frosting is buttercream, which includes a large sack of powdered sugar, a stick of butter, a stick of butter flavored Crisco, 1/3 of a cup of whipping cream, and another generous tablespoon of vanilla.
I went to Spun Sugar and got the shiny purple cupcake papers, purple food coloring (there were at least 5 purple choices and I don’t remember which one I chose. I don’t think it matters), and the purple sprinkles. There was much hemming and hawing over what to decorate with.
There were just a few issues. My friend and co party planner D brought champagne with her and I drank a lot of it. I’m pretty sure this enhanced my baking abilities, but I never tried one. My Williams-Sonoma frosting tip was nowhere to be found. I think my friend S might have hid it so as to avoid me leaving sticky spots all over his kitchen. I had to use the star tip. The sprinkles did not want to stick to the frosting. I should have picked lighter ones I think. Sprinkling was D’s job. She made an admirable effort.
I haven’t been dancing IN YEARS. My friend L told me at WeWork’s new member brunch yesterday (hey croissant breakfast sandwiches) that she wanted to go. I was intrigued. Nobody seemed to know where to go dancing outside of San Francisco. I remembered that my friend N likes to go dancing and gave her a call. She was in.
She chose Era Art Bar and Lounge in Oakland’s Uptown. I decided that dancing was an occasion for kohl eye makeup (fail) and my highest heels. I love being 5’11”(success, then later fail). N responsibly drove us there in the rain. We picked up her fucking amazing sister T and got a spot right in front of the club! I believe that good parking comes from returning your shopping cart at the grocery store to the corral in front of the store (not the lot corral and definitely not wedged between spots or worse).
We first went for drinks at a new place called Small Wonder, formerly the Loring Cafe. T said it looked like different people had decorated different parts of the bar. We were in a quiet corner on vintage couches kind of crammed in next to a big round vintage wood table with mismatched everything (chairs, plates, napkin rings etc.). The bartender was very talented. N and T had sidecars (he gave us the extra in a couple of small glasses) and L and I had the signature cocktail. My friend S (the hottest person in the Coast Guard), L’s new dude person, and his random (at first I thought he had just come over to hit on S) friend joined us.
Era was super cozy and the DJ was great. I woohooed when he played Rihanna’s Work. I danced. I thought I couldn’t dance. There wasn’t much room to move so I swayed about sexily. It was very ambitious of me to try this in very high heels. At one point I fell on my ass. My friends know that despite growing up a jock, I’m terribly uncoordinated. T took me upstairs and convinced me that everyone could care less that I fell. Then we got back to it and danced until the lights came on.
I had a lot of fun. Nobody touched me inappropriately. Nobody kept trying to hit on me after I ignored him the first time. I met a lot of N and T’s amazing friends. I saw my friend K and her boyfriend briefly on the dance floor. Someone bought me a glass of champagne. My friend’s shared their water with me. I used to be too something for dancing. Judgmental? Grumpy? Fucking afraid? In fact, if I guy mentions dancing on their Bumble profile I usually swipe left. Other than my sore tailbone today, it was great! It feels so good to be a positive fearless yes sayer. Always swipe right on dancing.
I always wanted a pet name. As a freshwoman at Barnard College in fem lit, I dutifully wrote about how Ibsen’s Nora was made to feel insignificant by being called “chocolate chippy squirrel muffin,” so she busted out of that hellhole Dollhouse. I still longed to be endeared.
My quiet desire for a pet name persevered throughout my dating life. An ex used to occasionally call me “Honey Pie Pie,” but that was the closest I’d come. I once surreptitiously read a card that my friend A or “Bunny” received from her boyfriend. One intellectual person calling another intellectual person something so fuzzy compelled me. It was their sweet secret.
I was jealous of their relationship. Later he went on to cheat on her repeatedly with Thai prostitutes, so I was just jealous of the pet name. I wanted to be “Bunny,” and I coveted that title for years. In fact, when I first met my next boyfriend and learned he called people “Rabbit,” I thought I was just a hop away from home free.
Many Pesachs in the past, I went to my student L’s for a seder. In the kitchen I met L’s grandmother. I instantly liked her because she’d been a 4th grade teacher and had just returned from travels in New Zealand. “Schlückie it’s time for champagne,” she called to her husband. I was curious. Schlückie? What’s a schlück? I knew what a schmuck was. Trust me I knew. “Why Schlückie?” I asked. She smiled, charmed that I’d picked up on this bit of intimacy. It turns out they’d been calling each other that for two of my lifetimes “Schlückie” means a sip of wine in German. It was the most romantic thing I’d ever heard. Fuck “Bunny.”
So why was “Schlückie” the best term of endearment ever? “Schlückie” is sexy because wine is sexy, the redder the better. Imagine Schlückie one and Schlückie two are sitting together in a dark wood low lights bar. She crosses and uncrosses her legs, takes a sip, and licks her lips. His eyes twinkle just for her as he takes his sip. The tacit agreement between their wine soaked lips? Soon, there will be Schlückie Nookie.
Enter boyfriend P. He called me “Peanut.” Now, some have disparaged the name, claiming I should have aimed for a higher order of nut such as “Cashew,” but I loved being “Peanut.” His “Peanut.” There were many variations of “Peanut,” such as “Peeny,” “Peiner Weiner,” “Pea Nut Nut,” “Peanutter,” “Peanutska,” and the most exuberant “PEEnutly.” I loved them all. I loved being “Peanut” because I loved being with P and I knew he loved being with me.
Next I was Sweet Pea. I wore a pea sized green pearl and gold necklace, which I told him to buy for me. Ex boyfriend N called me Sweet Pea when he was baby talking, which was a lot because his little pouty face was how he got what he wanted. He was always trying to get me to call him him Pingu. His wife had called him Pingu because he looked surprisingly similar to the claymation penguin. Weird. It wasn’t a very good relationship and I never think of myself as Sweet Pea anymore.
I asked some friends about pet names. Many were opposed to them entirely. L said, “thank goodness no.” KA said, “I’ve never been a nickname user; it just doesn’t come naturally to me. The one ex who gave me a pet name is a guy I cringe to think I ever went out with…he somehow started calling me baby bear, which occasionally morphed into bay + [other animal]. It was goofy, not my personality at all, and I did not like it.” In Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Nora felt marginalized, minimized.
My friend M said, “the first one, with my ex, was one we made up, so I don’t really want it published. I kinda regretted it it because it opened up the door to baby talk, which was not sexy, eroded our attraction to each other and made for a more sibling-like dynamic.” Some friends “hated” pet names and others had been called generic ones such as Sweetie and Babe.
A few people thought these names were too personal to share including the new guy I’m dating. He did share that long ago he’s called a redheaded girlfriend Honeybear. Most guys have not been given a pet name and I’ve never given one. I’m thinking of calling him Pigwidgeon (Pigwidgie for short) from Harry Potter because he likes owls. I’m a nerd.
Is there something wrong with me for liking pet names? Mine have been adorable and made me feel small, cute and adored. I did some online research and there’s a lot out there telling me that pet names are sneaky ways of dominating women in a sexist society. My co worker calls his girlfriend gThang, Gabbers, or booger EATER. Love is so confusing sometimes.