I am baking a cake. A chocolate cake. I start the oven preheating, read the recipe, and gather the ingredients…sugar, flour, eggs, milk, vanilla, chocolate, baking powder, and mix them up in a bowl. Baking time is 45 minutes. When the batter is ready, I pour it into a cake pan, and open the oven door. Just then, the doorbell rings, and when I open the door, you are standing there.
“Hi Clyde. C’mon in. I am baking a cake and I want you to taste it.”
You are fine with that.
“I would like to ask a favor. I want you to do a blind tasting.”
We are friends, so you trust me. Bad mistake. I lead you to the kitchen, you sit down, and I blindfold you.
“Okay, are you ready to taste the cake?” I ask.
I get a spoonful of the batter and say, “Open up.”
And I drop it into your mouth.
You can’t help yourself. You make a face.
“That’s not cake. It tastes like sweet, chocolate-flavored library paste.”
“Okay, okay, sit back and relax. Let’s give this a few minutes, and we’ll try again.”
So I put the cake in the oven, and set it for 45 minutes. The oven timer works in five-minute increments, so I program it for nine of them. To pass the time, we talk about the usual trivia…the weather, Trump’s latest outrageous tweets, immigrant children being raped in detention centers at the border…the usual stuff.
After twenty minutes or so, I pull the cake out of the oven and give you another spoonful.
“Gah! It’s warmer and gooey, sticks to my teeth. What’s is this? I though I was tasting cake. Gimme a glass of water to wash this crap down.”
You’re starting to get pissed, and I try to calm you down.“I’m sorry. Bear with me. I promise you the next taste will be better.”
I stick it back in the oven.
Meanwhile we get into Russian involvement in the election, Trump’s denials that they were trying to help him, Mueller’s report on how he tried to obstruct the investigation, while insisting that he is innocent…all that stuff.
After twenty-five minutes the timer buzzes. I take it out and let it cool for a few minutes and then cut a piece.
“Okay, taste this!”
“Ahh! Finally, it’s real cake,” you say.
“Why did you feed me that other crap? I figured out what you were doing. You were giving it to me before it was done to see if I would know it was cake. It was pretty awful stuff, not recognizable as cake until it finally was done.”
I am nodding. “You’re right. All the ingredients were in those three tastes, but it’s not a cake until it’s done, and comes out of the oven. Until that point, it’s just…ingredients.”
That’s true for many things in our lives, and it causes arguments sometimes.
Some people insist that the ingredients are the same as the final “product.”
And that half-baked is the same as done.