The Tell-Tale Boob

On the way to the birthday party, I could not have guessed this was the day I would commit my first crime.

My parents said I should attend the party because some girl invited me. I could have protested. Should I jump off a cliff because someone invited me? But that wouldn't have helped. So here I was, clutching some gorpy present, walking the six blocks to a party I didn't want to go to in the first place.


The Birthday Girl met me at the door when I reached the house. She grabbed the present and added it to the pile with a curt, "Thanks for the present. Here's your hat." A birthday hat. Just what I needed to make this disagreeable event even worse. As instructed, I put the hat on and immediately consoled myself by casing the house for an early look at the all-important cake.

The cake was one of those square, single-layer pan creations. And here's where geometry becomes all-important. Knowing the three different ways sheet cakes can be cut is essential. Pieces of cake cut from the center are the worst, with icing only on the top. Pieces around the outside edge are much better, with icing on both the top and one side, making them twice as desirable. But the real prize is one of the corner pieces, triple winners with icing on the top and two sides -- The Holy Grail of cakedum.

The corner of this cake was covered in triple frosting and topped with a beautiful red rose. Now that was the prize of prizes. Scoring the corner piece with the all-important frosting rose became my instant obsession. With the goal set, my plan evolved quickly. Things were definitely looking up.

Cutting and serving the cake would have to begin with a corner piece. The rush-to-be-first crowd would make that coveted selection almost impossible to grab. So I formed a much better plan with a higher chance of success. Instead of competing for the cherished first corner piece and possibly losing everything, I would go for a sure win for the second corner with the rose. I estimated carefully, comparing how many pieces it would take to reach the next corner and how many people were in line ahead of me waiting to be served.


Counting carefully, I casually moved into position. Six people were ahead of me in line, and six side pieces were to be cut and served before reaching the second corner piece with the rose. Five-five, four-four, three-three, two-two. It was working out perfectly. I waited in delightful anticipation: the next in line as the cake-cutter person turned to hand me the corner cake piece with the prize of prizes, then suddenly...

"Birthday Girl goes FIRST!" she demanded as she elbowed me -- actually elbowed me -- out of the way. She grabbed the corner piece (frosting on two sides, rose on top) and pranced away triumphantly. I begrudgingly accepted the following offering: a side piece with one layer of frosting and no red rose.

I considered retrieving my present from the still-unopened pile near the door and leaving. Or "accidentally" elbowing Birthday Girl and dumping her ill-gotten cake with triple frosting and rose on the floor. But could I be convincingly clumsy? Oops, I didn't mean to. Oh, I'm so sorry. May I get you another piece?


Party games were next. Opening the presents happened. Then more games. The party, finally, was beginning to wind down. Then quite suddenly, a new opportunity presented itself. Sitting in plain view was a nearly empty cake platter. Though the cake and frosting were gone, a coveted icing rose remained, sitting alone, all by itself. Abandoned? Discarded? Unwanted?

Motive and opportunity converged in an instant. I moved quickly, almost without thinking. NOW! Deftly snatching the frosting rose, turning slightly towards the wall for concealment, I stuffed the prize in my breast pocket to complete the act. I had done the deed. I waited as seconds ticked off in delightful silence. Nothing. Still nothing. Nobody saw it. Act normal. Don't panic.

"SOMEBODY STOLE MY ROSE!" shrieked Birthday Girl. The room froze in horror. People stood motionless with eyes darting left and right, hoping to discover the culprit.

There was a very brief moment when I might have acted quickly enough to do something, anything, to repair the catastrophe. A quick confession, bathed in innocence, might have worked. Oh, is this yours? I didn't mean to... I thought that... Maybe... Sorry... Oops...

But the opportune moment passed, replaced by cries of "Thief! Thief!" escalating the situation beyond reasonable resolution. It was suddenly and decisively way too late for innocence. My fate was sealed.

Concealing my crime was all that mattered now. I glanced down at my chest to see if I had successfully hidden and disguised the theft. No, I had not. The protruding bulge in my left shirt pocket was a dead giveaway. Big enough to reveal a stolen rose. Big enough to be the envy of every prepubescent girl in the room. Big enough to get caught!

disguise 2

I moved swiftly. Folding my arms as casually as possible, I pressed against my chest, hoping to smush and flatten the tell-tale protrusion and avoid detection. But smush was hardly the response. Though it was made of frosting, the dried-out rose was hard as plaster. Smushing wouldn't do it. With a more robust effort and an even tighter squeeze with both arms, I shattered the rose with a satisfying crunch, stabbing my chest with rose shards. Concealment completed. Evidence disguised. The deed is done.

Meanwhile, the party had become a disaster. People were hunting for the missing rose, reassuring Birthday Girl that there was another rose with lots of frosting. Regarding each guest, including me, of course, as a possible suspect. Act natural. Just be yourself. Don't look guilty.

Disguise became essential. Quickly altering my persona to avoid detection, I became Mister Cool. Casually sauntering toward the door, without a care in the world, I joined several other guests preparing to escape the catastrophe as quickly as socially acceptable.

A final survey of the room revealed no pointing fingers or sideways glances in my direction. Not the slightest suspicion as my getaway continued, undetected, with just a few more steps to go. Real and imagined fears raced through my mind as I continued my escape. Would somebody suddenly point at me and shout, "It's HIM!"? Would the dreaded Frosting Police burst onto the scene with handcuffs deployed, police van at the ready?

But all was quiet. I remained undetected as I mumbled, "Thanks for the party," to complete my escape, exiting the front door without incident. Nobody suspects. I've done it. Success! Caper completed!


Any possibility of detection soon vanished. When I reached the sidewalk and headed home, anxiety gradually gave way to a growing satisfaction. I was breathing quite normally again and becoming somewhat pleased with my success.

Critical events of the evening flashed through my mind. The combination of opportunity and motive coming together at just the right instant, quick action to capitalize on the moment, rapid and effective concealment, and finally, stealthful undetected escape with swag intact.

I had committed the perfect crime. On my very first attempt!

But there was more to recall. Birthday Girl sobbing in the corner, unconsoled by the ample supply of cake, frosting, and even two untouched corner pieces still intact. I realized crime needed more than skill and stealth: a successful criminal required a victim, and I wasn't all that happy about ruining Birthday Girl's party over a rose.

Pulling off my first crime without a hitch was a significant achievement. So how did I celebrate my newfound skills and somehow avoid the darker side of a criminal career? The solution was simple; Then and there, I decided to become a successful criminal -- retired.

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