March 22, 2004
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz
210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.,
Madison, WI 53703
Dear Mayor Cieslewicz:
I am sure you get many letters of request from constituents making demands on your time and energy. Some ask you for clemency, others for money, others for endorsements, and some for empathy. I am writing with one simple favor that will not take very much of your time. I would like you to send me a birthday cake. Allow me to state that I am not being metaphorical; I mean birthday cake, the kind with a lot of sugary, fluffy frosting.
Asking you to send me birthday cake will undoubtedly bring up many questions for you. You will likely wonder at first why you should send me a birthday cake. Well, the obvious first answer is because it's my birthday. Moreover, the role of mayor is to respect the desires of the people in his or her town. Where the mayor can act to create happiness, the mayor should do so. I remember a newspaper article during the mayoral elections. You and other candidates were asked what you would do if the Girl Scouts were not allowed to hold a bake sale in Monona Terrace because it conflicted with their catering policy. You replied that you would discuss it over Thin Mints with the Scouts. I applaud your choice of cookie as Thin Mints are superior to other cookies, namely the new shortbread lemon crèmes, but mostly I want to remind you of those words you spoke. You implied that you would be committed to bringing delicious baked goods to deserving citizens.
During your mayoral term, you have tried to make Madison a healthier place. I applaud you and realize that cake is not considered a health food. I would like to point out, though, that stress is a major health risk, and the stress of not having cake can very easily be alleviated by having cake.
Also, people who are busy eating cake are people who are not committing crimes. Those people will set a fine example for others. There is an issue of finance here. Should the city of Madison pay for my birthday cake? No. Should you pay for my birthday cake? If you want it to be a little birthday gift from you to me, I would gladly accept such a tasty token of thanks for lending some of my good karma to your town. (You must concede that I have contributed goodness to the town, if only you have smiled once in the reading of this epistle.) If you would rather use your income for other needs, I am sure one of our fine local bakeries would be happy to contribute a single cake to the cause. They would be glad to do a favor for you and for me, and maybe even to get some publicity.
You may be inclined to deny my request because
if everyone in the city asked you for a birthday cake, you could not fill such
requests. This is a valid point, but I ask you how many people have come
to you during your term to request cake and only cake. If the answer is
less than five, I see no reason for not honoring my request. If the answer
is more than five,
consider that the city would be a happier place with the addition of free cake-kitchens scattered along the isthmus. Regardless, you must currently consider people's requests on a cake-by-cake basis.
If you worry about logistics, be assured that
a cake can be delivered to me at my office. I will see that it is not
intercepted by anyone attempting to sabotage your offering. You may contact
me by phone or email as well if you would like to arrange a time for me to pick
up the cake somewhere, which I would be happy to do. You may have some
anxieties about selecting
the proper cake, which is natural. Yellow cake and vanilla frosting is the ideal combination, but anything besides coconut will be eaten with delight.
Frosting is of the essence; fruitcake or other bread erroneously called cake will not do. There are many fine sources of cake to be had in town, such as Carl's Cakes, La Brioche, or one of our grocery stores, namely the bakery at Copp's. Should you wish to brush up on your culinary skills, I would be pleased to consume a homemade cake instead of one made elsewhere. My precise date of birth is April 2 but cake will be accepted on any date. I think you will find that the high caliber of local cake, compounded with my flexibility, will make this task, well, a piece of cake.
I feel that I have made a strong argument for cake. In a world where Yasser Arafat can win a Nobel Prize and the Terminator can win an election, why would I not deserve a birthday cake courtesy of your office?
Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you in the future. Should you choose to send cake, I would be grateful and would even share it with you if you would like. It might be one of the most pleasant tasks of your incumbency.
Erin L. Martin
* * * * *
Office of the Mayor
David J. Cieslewicz, Mayor
I get all kinds of letters complaining about my positions for or against various proposals, complaining about some City service that didn't get provided promptly, requesting City funding for some project or complaining that taxes are too high.
Yours was the first request I have received for a birthday cake. It was well written. It was clever. And in a stack of correspondence filled with problems, your letter made me smile. So, you got yourself a cake. Show up at the Mayor's Office on April 2nd, and I will present you with a cake and a handshake. Linda Lewis from my office will be in touch to arrange an exact time.
And Happy Birthday!
David J. Cieslwicz