In the world of things I might be reflexively reactionary about, let's just say that at FIRST GLANCE, "cakebarring" hits the mark on a couple levels: A single woman + baked goods + marriage desires + bars + gotta get out there and do what it takes to get that man. Seduction by cake! How progressive! Would she, having successfully lured a boy with sugar, go on to be an ironic housewife? But like so many things, cakebarring is as mysterious and multilayered as a, um, layered cake.
When I first read about cakebarring, naturally, I had questions. Questions like…
So what's this cakebarring thing — is that like some new barre move?
Cakebarring, a term coined by Audrey Shulman, involves taking a homemade cake to a bar and then offering it to people, people who might be dudes, dudes who might want to marry you and have your cakebabies. Think of it as a bar prop, like arming yourself with a "sugar front" to have an excuse to talk to cute boys. WAIT WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THIS IN COLLEGE INSTEAD OF ALL THOSE PROP RUBBER CHICKENS.
How'd it happen?
Like most good ideas, accidentally/serendipitously. This one time, Shulman had a leftover homemade cake with her, she ended up at an LA bar, offered it around, and apparently everyone went apeshit and the place turned into Cheers faster than you can say gluten-free. Shulman says her friend then jokingly suggested she should try it as a thing to meet guys.
Why does she need a 'thing' to meet guys?
Everybody needs a thing. Sheesh. No, see, she's 26. She's single. She wants to get married. It hasn't happened so far. What of it?
How long will she keep this rom-com caper up?
It's been six months, but she intends to do it for a year. Fifty cakes. Fifty bars. One man. One sweet tooth. Er, two sweet teeth?
Has it worked out well so far?
Eighteen cakes and 18 bars deep, Shulman says she's had "varying degrees of success," such as:
I've gotten three phone numbers, a business card, a new girl friend, an almost boyfriend, and consumed enough cake to bring on what I'm sure will be a frightening yearly check-up at the dentist.
Isn't it like, embarrassing, or something?
Reading Shulman's blog, there never seems to be any shortage of people having a good time enjoying the cake. Plus, they've already been warmed up with booze, 'member? This ain't cake at AA meetings.
But how am I supposed to FEEL about it?
First you're supposed to go WUT THE HECK IS THIS LADY DOING. WHAT NEXT? SEDUCTION BY STEAK !?
Wait, genuinely wondering if taking grilled steaks to bars would work better. Not as cute, but more effective? But actually, in spite of how contrived it might seem to roll up on a bar with a frosted trojan horse, it appears this whole crazy cake run happened pretty organically. Shulman really did already like baking, so it's not like borrowing a friend's dog or baby or some other absurd thing just to make someone think you have added depth. Also, she offers the cake to anyone who wants it, believing that any chance meeting can open up new doors to potential romance.
Also, my bracing cynicism was misguided: I don't even know Audrey Shulman and now I want to go to one of these bars in LA and be her cake friend. Because she comes off as impossible not to like. Like a really smart, funny lady just doing a thing. She has a great attitude, a refreshing honesty about what she wants, and a certain fearlessness. And yes, I mean fearlessness. Because it's hard enough to admit what you want in this life, much less when it's something regarded as "traditional" or "old-fashioned."
As my friend Alexis who sent me the link said, "I think it's a great example of a woman getting creative to get what she wants."
Of course, not all women want husbands, but meeting people is hard, and being creative about it is difficult, especially when you could be at home with your cheese (cake). (Nonetheless, I wouldn't advocate pre-heating the oven just yet, singletons: I say wait to try this until after she finishes the experiment and nabs a dude.)
Shulman also acknowledges that your sugar targets might find the whole thing pretty transparent:
They May Be On To You. While enjoying your cake, boys may ask you things like, "Do you just bake cakes and hang out in bars?" You can scream laugh and say no, or you can be upfront and reveal your entire scheme. Your choice.
I have to wonder what would happen if you said in a mock demure voice: Yes, yes I do. See, I want to get married. It just wasn't happening out so I started making cakes — long story — and here I am hoping that a bite or two of my confections more might spark than between us than just our taste buds. Too forward?
But she ultimately concludes that, even if the jig is up, you have nothing to lose:
The best thing that can happen is you meet someone. The worst thing that can happen is all the people in the bar are gluten-free. More cake for you.
The cynic in me that never leaves so easily says: Well, there's your teeth to lose. And all that cake ingredient money, which you could put into a cake business so if you wanted, you could lure men directly to your workplace, thus saving you time and money. But something tells me that with her attitude, Audrey Shulman is going to pull it together just fine either way.