Fred would have been the perfect catch for any young eligible woman—he was smart, kind, gentle, considerate and rich. His only problem was that he looked like a fruitcake. Not crazy like a fruitcake, but lumpy and round like a fruitcake.
Diane worked at his computer services company. As owner Fred found a reason to go by her desk everyday to see how everything was. She would look up from her paperwork, smile and say, “No problems.”
This smile was kind, professional and beautiful. Her straight glistening white teeth were framed by full red lips and surrounded by soft, clear skin. Her blue eyes showed respect, friendliness but nothing much beyond that.
Fred was devastated. He tried to find ways to show Diane that he was more than a good boss and all around good egg, but she never seemed to notice. He did impress her with his all-encompassing knowledge of the technical world of computers. Diane laughed at all his jokes because he really was a funny fellow. She went, “Aww” when Fred showed her pictures of his nieces, nephews and cousins who were always climbing over him in gleeful play. Diane was the first in line to pet Andy, Fred’s basset hound which he brought to the office often. But nary a romantic glint ever entered her eyes when Fred appeared at her desk.
He hoped that would change at the Christmas office party. Fred cooked all the cookies and snacks each year himself. Besides all his other talents, he was a gifted cook. Fred learned all the tricks of the trade from his grandmother who passed down loads of recipes guaranteed to make guests go “Yum.”
His ace up his sleeve was Grandma’s fruitcake recipe. Even people who hated fruitcake loved Grandma’s recipe.
“It’s good enough to make people fall in love,” Grandma told Fred with a wink. “Be careful. This is mighty powerful stuff.”
The day of the office party everyone had turned off their computers, put away their files and lined up at the long table filled with all sorts of goodies.
“Would you like some fruitcake?” Fred shyly asked Diane.
She shook her head politely. “I don’t eat fruitcake.”
“How do I know this isn’t one of those fruitcakes that’s been mailed around the world a couple of times?” she said with a laugh.
“I baked it with fresh ingredients last week,” Fred replied, trying to hide his hurt feelings. “It’s been soaking in Jamaican rum ever since.”
Diane furrowed her brow a bit. “Oh, I’m sure it must be very good because you made it. Everything you cook is good. I just don’t like fruitcake.”
“How do you know you won’t like this fruitcake?” Fred asked. He didn’t want to sound too aggressive. “I mean, when was the last time you ate fruitcake?”
“I don’t know. An aunt sent it to me for Christmas.”
“Oh, then it must have been filled with all sorts of preservatives and chemicals.”
“You’re probably right about that.”
“Then why won’t you try my fruitcake?”
Diane reached out and lightly touched Fred’s arm. “I’m sure there are a lot of girls out there who like fruitcake and who would take a slice of your fruitcake willingly.” She paused. “But I don’t like fruitcake.”
Fred was beginning to feel a little frantic. His neck was warm, and he was sure his face was turning red. “Of course, everyone has a right to eat or not eat anything they wish.” He stopped and collected his thoughts. “But think of all the wonderful things they miss out on because they just assume everything that looks round and lumpy isn’t right for them.” He looked into her eyes. “Do you like a nice lean steak?”
His heart started pounding. Fred could tell he was beginning to aggravate her. “How many times have you bitten into a nice looking steak and found it to be tough and stringy.”
“I guess a lot.”
“But it didn’t keep you from eating steak, did it?”
Fred took a slice of the fruitcake on a paper plate and held it up. “I know this doesn’t look as delicious as a steak. But it doesn’t taste as bad as other fruitcakes you’ve seen. It’s my fruitcake. It isn’t like anyone else’s. It tastes good. It tastes good every time because I care enough to make it taste good every time.”
Pinching a bite off the slice, Fred carefully held it up to Diane’s perfectly formed red lips and held his breath.
She looked at him and then at the fruitcake, sighed and bit a portion from the slice in his hand. Diane looked up and her eyes widened. She ate the rest of the cake from his fingers, and smiled. Then the smile changed.
In those eyes, Fred could see the respect and friendliness, but now there was something else. Diane leaned forward, gently placing her hands behind Fred’s head and kissed him.
Wow, Fred thought, Grandma’s fruitcake does taste good.
9 ½ MINUTE CAN’T FAIL HOLIDAY FRUITCAKE
2 ½ cups of sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 jar (28 oz Borden’s Mince Meat)
1 15 oz Borden’s Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup walnuts coarsely chopped
2 cups (1 lb. jar) mixed candied fruit
Butter 9-inch tube pan. Line with waxed paper. Butter again. Sift flour and baking soda. Combine eggs, mince meat, condensed milk, walnuts and fruits. Fold into dry ingredients. Pour into pan. Bake in slow 300 degree oven for two hours, until center springs back and top is golden. Cool. Turn out; remove paper. Decorate with walnuts and cherries if you desire.