Does it bug you when one woman takes it upon herself to cut everyone’s piece of cake at a social event? And the more pieces she cuts, the more her fingers get into the cake.
What is it about cake (or pie) that some women feel they must self-appoint themselves as the sole cake cutter?
Where were they when people at the social event or party wanted some pasta, meatballs, beet salad, mashed potatoes or other dish?
Do people at get-togethers suddenly become helpless when it comes to serving themselves cake?
When it’s time for dessert at a holiday party, retirement party, family reunion or other social function, LOOK OUT:
There will almost always be a woman (occasionally a man) standing at the cake, knife in hand, ready to cut one piece after another, place on plates and hand to all the people standing in line.
Usually (at least according to my observations), she is NOT the one who brought in the cake! And she’s usually a guest!
But even if she was the cake-bringer or hostess, that doesn’t change the dynamics of this silly and often unhygienic practice.
Why One Shouldn’t Self-Appoint Themselves to Cut Everyone’s Cake
Did I mention the fingers in the cake issue? Why can’t these cake-serving mavens figure out a way to lift the slice and transfer it to a plate without getting their fingers in it? HINT: Use a second utensil.
You have no idea where those fingers have been.
Were they handling a toddler who had saliva all over himself?
Were they scratching inside an ear, handling a filthy rag, picking goo out of their eye, biting their nails?
And then their fingertips are in the frosting that you’ll be eating? Eeeuuuwww!
Secondly, do you want someone else determining how much cake you get to eat? They didn’t determine how much salad, pasta or roast beef you had. Why should dessert be any different?
What about preventing any one person from serving themselves a gigantic piece, leaving an inadequate amount for the people behind him in line?
I’ve found that this is never the reason someone decides to cut everybody’s piece — especially when the cake is huge and can obviously feed three times the amount of people at the event.
Is it about power?
Years ago at a social event at my parents’ home, there was a self-appointed pie cutter: my mother’s brother’s wife — a very nice lady.
Maybe it wasn’t about power; maybe it was her way of being kind. But she didn’t have to show this by getting her fingers in the big apple pie.
Was it to control the rations? Come on, if someone wants a huge piece of pie, they’ll get it one way or another, even if it means sneaking two more helpings.
She asked if I wanted a piece. I said I’d have it later (and you know why!). She cut a bunch of pieces, fingers all over, and people took them.
I waited for her to leave. Then I quickly grabbed a knife and began cutting.
And by golly, my aunt swooped in from nowhere and put three fingers down on the piece that I was midway through cutting — to keep it steady! Unbelievable!
I certainly didn’t want to be swallowing a piece of my aunt’s fingernail.
Okay, I had no idea where that pie had been prior to all this, but that’s not the point, is it?
When the Cake Cutter Licks Her Fingers Between Slices
This happened repeatedly at a place I used to work. Someone was always retiring, and there’d be a very large, rectangular two-layer cake.
One of the managers would slowly cut one piece after another, licking her fingers in between, and placing those very fingers on the next slice. People commented about it to each other, but took the pieces anyway.
I always waited till she was done and out of there rather than speak to her about it — because she was in a position to fire me!
Once she was gone I’d cut myself a piece, even though there’d always be unclaimed pieces, cut by her, on several plates.
What should be done?
“On a practical level, if one person cuts the cake, then it’s easier to divide it up equally if that is the goal,” says Patricia Celan, MD, a psychiatry resident at Dalhousie University in Canada.
“However, when everyone wants a different size slice of cake, why is it still one person cutting it per the requests?
“Every culture has some traditions that may not make much sense beyond occurring because it has always been the case.
“In some areas, cutting the cake may be one person’s responsibility as is the tradition for the local culture, simply doing what is familiar.
“That is why taking leadership over the cake usually means you are not just cutting one slice, but several slices.”
How about the host exclaiming, “Hey guys, the cake’s out! Come help yourself!”
Or how about nobody appointing herself as cutter of the cake. People will surely notice it and start cutting — and it’s extremely unlikely that any fights would break out over this.
It’s not at all rude for a hostess to cue guests to cut their pieces — no more rude than it is for her to cue them to start helping themselves to the meatloaf, ham, corn or salad.
Dr. Celan is a post-graduate trainee in psychiatry, working in diagnosing and treating patients with psychiatric conditions. She is passionate about psychotherapy, especially in trauma, anxiety and depression.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.