September 26, 2011

Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold.
— Johnny Cade’s dying words to his friend Ponyboy
in The Outsiders, a novel by
S.E. Hinton, b. 1948
American fiction writer

Lynn DeAngelis, my Wonderful Wunski, turns twenty-six years old today. Although I’ve had this space for a dozen of her birthdays before this one, I’ve only written about her on this day five times. In a 1999 post called “Two Birthdays and a Funeral,” I sandwiched an observation about her birthday between one concerning the birthday of someone who was then absent from my life and a lament about the death of someone I had known only online but whom I had loved. In 2001, I wondered “What Happened to That Funny Face?” In 2005 I noted that her twentieth birthday was the first one on which I would not be physically with her. In 2009 I talked about how the cynical friends who had warned me that my life would never be the same when I became a first-time mother at nearly 40 were right, but not in the way they had expected. And last year I recalled a dream I had just before I underwent amniocentesis, in which the fetus I was carrying pleaded to “Just let me be me.”

I have tried to do that, tried never to impose my tastes and preferences on her. I never had an interest in field hockey or science. Lynn excels at both. She’s not an avid reader, especially of fiction, a fact that disappoints me not at all, even though some people assume that it does. (One woman actually used the word “heartbroken” to describe what she thought I should or would feel concerning this. I’m not sure I ever spoke to her again.)

cakes_basket_smallNevertheless, I am happy to report that Lynn’s latest venture is a mixture of the two of us. Last year, casting about for something to do while her boyfriend, having lost the second half of his freshman year to illness, was taking extra classes so he could graduate in June, she undertook a cake decorating class. An early example of her work can be seen at left. Out of that was born her home business, Lucky Duck Cakes. She pursued getting licensed as a home bakery, secured a domain name, and a custom logo.

She brings to this endeavor her knowledge of science and her habits of precision in measuring and pouring, as well as her early passion as an artist. Left alone in the kitchen, I will always turn to baking instead of broiling or basting as a means of culinary expression. That Lynn is exhibiting this aspect of her maternal heritage pleases me greatly. (Commercial announcement: Her work is lovely, and tasty. If you’re in or around the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area, do consider a Lynn DeAngelis/Lucky Duck cake for your next celebration.)

Despite my identification as someone who knows a lot about books, especially books aimed at the age group I used to teach, I have never actually read S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. I suspect that Lynn has not, either. It is, however, one of those books I know a lot about, and I once kept a sign in my classroom with Johnny Cade’s words writ large. As Johnny lies dying, he makes a reference to Robert Frost’s notion that “nothing gold,” that is, nothing fresh and new and unsullied by cynicism or disappointment, “can stay.” Johnny hopes that his friend Ponyboy can stay gold.

Today is Lynn’s golden birthday — she turns 26 on the 26th. Below is the picture her cousin Annie chose to post this morning on Facebook. It shows them on the beach at Margate City, New Jersey, in 1989. Lynn is almost four, and Annie has just turned six. They were golden then, and they are golden now. May they always be.


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