Once upon a time, Julie and Chad ventured out upon an idea. The idea was to craft some delicious and adventurously decorated chocolate cupcakes. Although neither Chad nor Julie was particularly proficient at any kind of culinary art, the two young friends decided that a cupcake mix in a box with instructions on the back would be easy enough to turn into some real, live, edible, scrumptious, and flaky cakey morsels. So, they carried up said cupcake mix from Julie's basement.
It was an ordinary enough cake mix, seemingly harmless. It beamed its Betty Crocker-ed box-front up at Chad and Julie, winking at them, lovingly inviting them to open it up and create. So, they did. Julie cut the bag open, dumped it into the bowl, and then Chad added the water. He glanced responsibly at the back of the box and, nodding dutifully, he went for the shiny, yellow canola oil in the revolving island under the counter.
"Does it really say 1 and 1/2 cups of oil, Chad? On the box? That seems like a lot."
"Julie...(slightly ruffled sigh)...I read the box, Julie. The box says 1 and 1/2. I read it."
Chad moved to the sink, holding the metal measuring utensil and bottle of oil with a purpose. A simian smile covered his face as, with eerie relish, he poured the greasy liquid into the cup.
Chad, having accomplished his purpose, moved quietly to the bowl housing the rest of the ingredients. He dumped in the liquid, laughed, stepped backwards.
"Ok, eggs. Eggs are next," he said, as he slid towards the refrigerator.
Julie had picked up the red, empty box, and turned it around to view its misleadingly simple instructions. Her hands shook in blind, sweaty terror, as she screamed,
"Chad...Chad! It's half a cup! I told you!"
"Julie...wait, what does oil even do? Look it up."
Julie's computer sat on the counter, and she ran to it, running with all the cupcake-hope in her soul. Wikipedia, as it always does, came to the rescue, and it gave the two pioneers of unknown culinary territory some fresh hope. Oil seemed only to be an additive to spread the other flavors around, so they figured that their cupcakes might just be a little more flavorful. Who doesn't want that? The troopers returned to their bowl at the other side of the kitchen, hoping, praying, knowing that the cupcakes would be all right. They would be safely nestled in their crinkly paper cups in no time.
After a sad attempt to siphon some oil off the top liquid layer of the batter
And a just-as-noble attempt at pressing forward with the eggs, Julie and Chad discovered that, when a cake mix has been given too much oil, it can actually resist further ingredient integration. When the egg yolks began to squish around inside the batter, staying yellow and retaining their shape and membranes in the dun-colored, greasy, overall horrifying mess,
It was time to give up.
With a wave, a grimace, and a lot of tears, our two young friends sent their membrany, smelly, oily, unforgiving mess down the drain.
All the while, Julie's sister Jenny Lynn sat by with the silver tape recorder, grinning eerily and recording commentary for her mentor, Alex, who was away serving the Higher Order in a land called New Zealand.
Chad and Julie were determined young people. They ran to the basement, pulled from the lineup a much more promising cake mix named Cinnamon Swirl, and this time, Julie watched Chad, somewhat like one watches a toddler, as he put in the ingredients. Consequently, the pair were able to make some great-looking cupcakes. (Although they looked like bran muffins gone wild and Chad mixed them for about seventeen seconds total so they had grossly swollen lumps of who-knows-what left in them even when they were baked.)
A tall friend named Brett joined the two, as well as Jenny Lynn, who had put down the recorder for a time, and all decorated the branny-cinnamon-cupcake-muffins in a frenzy of marshmallows, sprinkles, frosting, and light.
And it was good.
The little guy on the lower right-hand side is Alex, but I'm sure anyone who's anyone knew that already. Chad did an absolutely beautiful job. And then he started crying.