"My birthday is Tuesday," Rory says.
"Is it?" Lorelai asks. "I never would have known."
"Mom." Rory draws out the vowel in a high whine, and Lorelai has to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling. Rory looks up at her with those big blue eyes, and Lorelai knows that whatever she's asking for, she'll probably get it. "I need to bring in cupcakes. Laurie Morton's mom made ones that had sparkles in the icing."
"Sparkles in the icing, huh?"
Rory nods, eyes still wide and pleading. Lorelai remembers last year, the two boxes of Hostess cupcakes she'd brought to Rory's first grade class--she was everybody's favorite mom for weeks after that, and not just because she was awesome.
"I'll see what I can do," she says. Rory's lower lip comes out in a pout and Lorelai laughs and gives her a quick squeeze. "There will be cupcakes. I promise."
"I promised," Lorelai says, taking a long sip of coffee and sighing in pleasure. "But I don't know if I want to repeat the great Hostess Cupcake Party of 1990. I mean, once it's a revelation. Twice it's just lazy."
Sookie laughs. "Chocolate, definitely, and maybe raspberries? Or mocha? Cupcakes that look like little cappuccinos?"
"They're seven, Sookie. I don't think they're drinking coffee yet." Sookie looks pointedly at the mug in Lorelai's hand and snorts. "Okay, possibly coffee will be as much mother's milk to Rory as, well, mother's milk, but I think she should at least be in double digits before we encourage it."
Sookie laughs. "Okay, we could do pink vanilla buttercream frosting and fill chocolate cupcakes with raspberry jam? Or, ooh, how about red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting?" She pats Lorelai on the shoulder. "Petit fours? I can whip something up that will make Laurie Morton's sparkly icing look like chopped liver."
Lorelai grins and then cringes, remembering her own mother's competitive streak, the lavish birthday parties that had to always be bigger and fancier than the neighbors', the three-tiered cakes decorated with roses and buttercream, and the catered lunches full of food Lorelai hated.
"I don't know. I don't want to be that mother, you know?"
Sookie smiles sympathetically. "I know."
Lorelai tries. She does. She follows Sookie's directions exactly--okay, maybe not exactly, because she doesn't have a mixer, so she just melted the butter instead, which seemed like a great idea right up until she added the eggs and then instead of incorporating smoothly into the butter-sugar mixture (at least that's what Lorelai thinks the recipe says--Sookie's handwriting was a little difficult to read even before Lorelai spilled coffee on the piece of paper, making the ink run), it cooked.
"I'm pretty sure egg cupcakes were not what I was aiming for," she says when Sookie picks up the phone.
"Oh, honey, you can't just add eggs to hot butter."
"I know that now."
"I can still whip something up," Sookie offers. "Brownies or cinnamon buns? Chocolate chip cookies?"
"Thanks, Sookie. I'll figure something out."
"I'll be up for a few more hours yet if you need me."
Lorelai hangs up the phone and stares down into her bowl of ruined cupcakes. She dumps it out and looks at the recipe again, ready to start over. She takes a deep breath and squares her shoulders. She can do this.
Lorelai pastes a smile on her face before she turns around. "Hey, kiddo, what's up?"
"You know what would be good tomorrow?"
Lorelai blinks and then laughs, pulling Rory close for a tight hug. "You're definitely your mother's daughter."
The grin Rory gives her is way better than one-upping Laurie Morton's mother could ever be.