The Watering Hole Blog

The Christmas Cake Incident

Christmas Cake & the Art of People-Watching


MA at the Pink Gazelle Cards & Creations table, Calgary Christmas Market

“You can observe a lot by just watching.”

– Yogi Berra

I may need to leave my writing hobbit hole more often…

My social graces seem to be slipping. Case in point was the Christmas Cake incident at the Calgary Christmas Market this past weekend. All in all, it was an excellent four days. Sales at the Pink Gazelle Cards & Creations table were strong and plenty of my Calgary peeps stopped by to say hi…it was one reunion after another as well as a few first-time meetings!

There were, however, some periods of down-time – during which I would either Instagram to my heart’s content or people-watch…which I should know, by the age of 50, is an art. Done correctly, it can be a brilliant study in anthropological behavior. Done poorly, it can quickly denigrate into just plain rudeness. I shall leave it to up to you to decide which category the Christmas Cake incident falls under ☹

Picture this, if you will: there I am, sitting at my table in the aisle, minding my own business and contemplating which snack to eat next, and up walks this beautiful bi-racial young family. The guy is black, handsome and massive. The woman is white, pretty and proudly carrying their new baby in her arms. Their 3-year-old adorable little boy toddles alongside, toy truck in hand. Another white guy, about my age, follows behind. He seems to be with them but doesn’t say much (I eventually figure out he is the woman’s father…not because I’m brilliant but because she said, “Dad, do you have seventy-five cents?”).

Anyway, they all stop at the vendor across from me and proceed to have an in-depth conversation about whether or not to buy a vaporizer. For some reason, I find this family absolutely fascinating. But I don’t want to be rude and stare too much, so I reach into my backpack and pull out a piece of Christmas cake and in between bites, sneak glances at them.

Now bear in mind, they are only two feet away from me. I suspect my fascination trumps my ability to be discreet because right after I take a very large bite of cake, the guy turns around and looks right at me. Unfortunately, I have bitten off more than I can chew (which happens more often than not, with both food and life in general), so at the very moment he turns around to look at me, there is a large piece of Christmas cake half in my mouth and half out.

Our eyes meet. I am mortified. Busted!

Then he takes a step towards me. So I bite the damn cake in half, madly chew the part that’s in my mouth and put the other half back into the plastic wrap in my hand. By this point, the guy is now standing about a foot away from me and says, in a deep rumbling voice, “Is that rum cake?”

I shake my head, wide-eyed. I can’t answer because my mouth is full (which would be rude…oh, like I haven’t been rude enough?!).

He takes a step closer to get a better look at the remnants of crumbled cake in my hand. “It looks like the rum cake we have in Jamaica,” he says.

Then the little blonde head of his tiny wife peeks around her massive husband and she adds her two bits to the conversation. “No,” she says, after a quick assessment of the situation. “That is not rum cake. That’s Christmas cake.”

Then she turns back to the business of choosing a vaporizer. The man looks at me and shrugs. The conversation is over. As are my days of staring at people…unless I’m wearing sunglasses.

A few photos of the Pink Gazelle Cards & Creations table and some of my visitors:


L to R: Ashling, MA & Rebecca


MA & Cheryl


L to R: Camille, Danielle & MA

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life.

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6 thoughts on “The Christmas Cake Incident”

  1. hahahahahaha…great to hear from you, Jennifer! Have a wonderful Christmas and I look forward to seeing you in 2019 when I am out East again!
    Take care,

  2. I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically wrong with watching people. As long as you aren’t being invasive or creepy, you can do with your eyes as you please.

    Being out in public, you almost need to have the expectation that people will look at you, and it’s not necessarily unhealthy. Perhaps it is more healthy than many people who take no interest in others.

    Perhaps they were just as interested in the woman with the voracious cake eating behaviour.

    Are you sure you were self-conscious about the event for the reasons stated? :p

  3. I will have to think about your question further! I did feel a bit uncomfortable with myself for being SO fascinated by this couple. But it also made me realize that getting out in public (versus staying at home) more often is probably a very good idea. It is a big world out there 🙂

  4. I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all in what you were doing, but the picture you’ve painted is absolutely brilliant and I can imagine it now. You certainly have a way with words. 🙂

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