Do you know what this cake says?
Last week I gave a baby shower for an American friend. It's her fourth baby and we just really wanted to celebrate this new life.
Of course, this kind of thing is prime language learning. I met with my language helper and had her give me the vocabulary to order a cake at a bakery. I practiced for a while with her and then we rode off on our bikes to the bakery near my apartment. It was closed. So we rode over to a different bakery across the Northeastern University Campus. Mind you, it was below twenty degrees!
So we go into the bakery and order a cake. I spoke "Chinese" and my language helper clarified in Chinese. I acted out a pregnant woman. I said "cake" and "baby" and "not a birthday." My helper said the same things so that the bakery woman could stop looking so blank and confused.
Baby shower's are unheard of in China. You would never celebrate before a baby is born. So when we looked at the cake book to choose a design, there was nothing with a baby on it. There was plenty of Pokemon and other children's themes but nothing sweet or baby like. So we decided on a semi-attractive theme of blue flowers and clarified again "Not a birthday."
I paid and told them that my husband would pick it up at 5:00. I clarified that he would be a Meiguoren, just in case it wasn't clear.
So at five o'clock, Paul rides his bike over to pick it up. He brings it home and we open it. It's pretty, it's a good size and what does it say? Sheng Ri Kaui Le! Happy Birthday! In characters of course! We even got a birthday crown and candles.
Anyway, we laughed our heads off and were told that every foreigner has a story of trying to order a cake. The cake was delicious, the shower was fun and now we are just waiting for the new baby to be born.