Plastic Baby Jesus

My entire family is afraid of a tiny piece of plastic. Well, a specific tiny piece of plastic. A tiny piece of plastic found in a cake and shaped like Jesus.

We have no issue with Jesus in general. Not our thing, but whatever. It's just the plastic baby Jesus baked in a cake that makes us nervous.

I don’t know too much about the tradition of the king cake, but I know it’s related to Mardi Gras and has to do with the biblical story of the three kings who brought gifts for the birth of Jesus.  It’s a round cake with a hole in the middle (like a doughnut, but bigger and with better frosting) and usually decorated with the Mardi Gras colors of purple green and gold. Per tradition, a small trinket is baked in to the cake- many people use a tiny plastic baby Jesus. The person who gets the baby Jesus is supposed to buy the king cake next year, and they are also supposed to have good luck for the year to come.

My mother has a group of friends she calls her First Friday Girls. They, of course, get together on the first Friday of every month to, as far as I can tell, hang out, talk, and send their children drunken text messages. Most of the women in the group- with the exception of my much-more-culturally-then-religiously Jewish mother- met while attending the same Catholic university. So sometimes they celebrate using some Catholic traditions- like eating a king cake.

The first year my mother and her friends did the king cake the woman who got the baby Jesus got a divorce. The second year they did it, the woman who got the baby Jesus’s mother got cancer. The third year my mom got the baby Jesus- that was the year that our house burned down.

So we’ve decided that the baby Jesus is bad news and bad luck. It brings some kind of haunted moxie, and we’re not in to it.

When my brother was in middle school, one day a teacher brought out a king cake. He went along with the lesson and the rest of the class and took a slice. He got the baby Jesus, and because he had heard so many horror stories about the little plastic omen of bad luck, he panicked, screamed, and chucked it across the classroom.

His teacher was, obviously, confused. She called our mom, in an attempt to find an explanation for my brother’s weirdness.  “Look, I know that nothing nefarious is going on here,” she said to my mom “but I’ve just got to ask… why did the little Jewish boy throw the baby Jesus across the room?”

My mother’s explanation of the bad luck was probably not what she was expecting.

During my sophomore year of college I was in the dining hall one day, and grabbed a piece of cake. It was midterms time, and my mind was in a million different places, including thinking about the huge study guide I had just typed up and needed to print after I ate. It was late February, and it hadn’t even occurred to me that the piece of cake I had grabbed as I headed back to my table might be the cake that I had been taught to stay away from- king cake only brought bad luck.
Obviously I've locked these text messages.
I sat back down at my table, went to take a bite, and my fork hit something hard and very un-cake-like. I was annoyed, but truthfully not that confused- my trust in my college’s dining hall was fairly minimal.  I was expecting a piece of plastic wrap, maybe a bit of a fork, a chocolate chunk that had ended up in the batter. I was not expecting to look down and see a little plastic baby Jesus.

I did what any normal teenage girl would do when confronted by a small plastic Jesus- immediately send very panicked text messages to my entire family.

My mom and brother immediately replied, equally frightened. My father, calm as he could be, responded that it was just a piece of plastic and that I would be ok.

I rushed back to my room to print off my papers before my exam. And then my computer crashed. And I lost my papers. And then I recovered most of it. And then the printer crashed. So I ran across campus to a printer, and I slipped and ripped my favorite jeans. The baby Jesus was striking and he was striking hard.

I ended up making it to my exam on time, and acing it. I made it through that Fat Tuesday, and I’m sure I’ll make it through the Fat Tuesday’s to come.

But I’m still going to avoid the little plastic baby Jesus. The little plastic baby Jesus is bad news. 

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  1. i've always wanted to try the whole king cake tradition but this has got me scared silly of it now. back luck, indeed!! that's some freaky stuff right there.

  2. You are such a gifted writer and I love reading your post! THANK YOU for always entertaining your fans!

  3. Really a great story. We are not into the king cake and I think it looks kind of messy with the multi-color frosting. But that's tradition I guess. What I really like is the name of your blog - eschew is Dick's favorite word lately. Glad your mom shared your talent. Have a great weekend!! Sheila P. (not too anonymous)

  4. Jordan, I have a spare Baby Jesus saved from a few years back if you need one. I saved it so I can always break it out and say "No, I got the baby last year, so this one doesn't count!"