CAKE: having it, eating it too, leaving it out in the rain and going the distance

I think the phrase “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” is pretty confusing. It sort of makes me question the role that cake is supposed to play in our lives. I mean, what else should we do with it if we don’t eat it?

By have, do they mean have it for display? (Hopefully it’s not for companionship.) Why the heck would you go to the trouble to bake a cake just for display purposes? Unless you work at a bakery that has display windows and cases.

Maybe the saying was meant only for commercial bakers with display windows. Really only bakers who lacked self control and were always eating the cakes right out of their windows. Perhaps they tried to be covert about it, just taking random bites here and there. Any window shoppers who noticed the missing bites probably assumed that the bakery had pest control problems and stopped shopping there.

But what are we, everyday, normal people types supposed to gather from this advice? (And you do hear it from time to time.) If we can’t eat the cake that we have, does it mean that we should eat someone else’s cake? Or is it a lesson to always bake two cakes: one to have and one to eat?

pound cake

To save you the worry, I looked it up. (Because I’m always looking up crap like this.)

It basically means you can’t have it both ways. You can’t both eat your cake and still have your cake. (Couldn’t ANYONE come up with a better way to deliver this wisdom?)

I assumed it originated from Marie Antoinette, but I was wrong. According to Wikipedia, the phrase was found in a letter dated 14 March, 1538, from Thomas Duke of Norfolk (as opposed to the Thomas Duke of Dublin, GA) to Thomas Cromwell. (No one cared where he was from.)

“a man cannot have his cake and eat his cake.” 

Cromwell probably read the note, muttered something under his breath about Duke’s indecipherable grandiosities and then decided that a piece of cake sounded really good at the moment. So he ate some. And didn’t once stop to contemplate its impermanence.

One thing I do know is that you shouldn’t leave cake out in the rain. Donna Summer taught me that in her hit single “McArthur Park.” I think I was four.

“Why can’t she find the recipe again? Has she even looked for it? And if she’s so upset why’s she dancing around like that?” I asked my older sister Pamela who knew everything.

“It’s not a real cake! It’s about her marriage being ruined like a cake left out in the rain, or something.”

“Well, where’s MacArthur Park?”

“I think it’s in Macon.”

I personally think the songwriter’s use of vague, nonsensical, passive-aggressive metaphors to spew her resentment was a major contributing factor to the marriage’s failure.

“Someone…and I’m not naming any names, left the cake out in the rain. (And left the toilet seat up. And left his dirty socks on the couch.)”

I wonder if a sponge cake would fare better in rain than other kinds. A good soaking might actually help a fruitcake, on the other hand.

I’ve always thought that giving someone a fruitcake for Christmas is a great way of saying “I hate you!”


The band Cake has always been one of my favorites. I once met their drummer on a flight to Sacramento…home for them. He could’ve benefited from being left out in the rain. Or a good pressure washing.


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4 Responses to CAKE: having it, eating it too, leaving it out in the rain and going the distance

  1. Carolann says:

    LOL I love Cake too…yes the band and the actual cake. Good to see you back! And thanks for the explanation of that phrase…I never did know what the heck that meant either lol


  2. Nita Grillot says:

    Just an FYI, MacArthur Park is in LA. And Donna Summer’s disco version was just one among many covers of the song. It was originally sung by The Association in 1968 – I was 14! Keep writing Angela – love it!


  3. Darlene Daniel says:

    Missed you! You are right about fruit cake, and sponge cake. I don’t like either one, they could both use a good soaking with something!


  4. angelaweight says:

    Lol, so true, Darlene. I wonder who invented fruit cake.


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