While rushing uptown this morning, I flew into my neighborhood’s most popular bakery to get a spot of coffee. The line was three times longer than I thought it would be. Everyone was ordering bagfuls of overpriced cupcakes that taste as dry and flavorless as something I would bake.
On the weekends, I’m not usually awake and out in public this early. I’ve been known to boycott brunches that are scheduled before noon. Whenever I do have to walk the streets at this hour on a Saturday or Sunday, it’s alarming to see how many young people are doing the same, only looking as though they’ve happily been fucking around town since the sun came up.
When you’re inching through a line like this, you have oodles of time to look around. It wasn’t long before I spied the displays of coffee mugs, lunchboxes, and other paraphernalia featuring the bakery’s trademark logo - a drawing of a cleavage-baring, bowling-ball-breasted, huge-caboosed black woman with big lips, fake eyelashes, an apron with “Aliyyah” written in at the bottom, and a droopy chef’s hat that reads: “I Love Cake.” The candle I think she’s trying to blow out (atop the jumbo-sized cake she loves) looks like a flask. This work of fine art also appears on all the pink plastic bags that the customers’ baked goods are packed into. Pink is my second-favorite color, and the first time I bought cupcakes there I was more excited about the color of the bag than the Red Velvet violence that lurked inside of it. Before I saw exactly what was on it, I planned to reuse that bag for weeks to come. When I used it as a trash bag later that night, I kept it turned around and on the side of my body that was farthest away from the neighbor I passed on the way to the garbage chute.
Aliyyah’s probably a real person who’s either an owner of the bakery or the inspiration behind it, but I know she doesn’t look like the lady on the logo – nobody does. I’m the only one who seems to find this image offensive. Not offensive enough to stop making emergency coffee runs there, but enough to gape at the gimmick whenever it’s nearby. Everyone else in line this morning only gaped at the cupcakes and my henna tattoo.