Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Idea of Ice Cream

This is a piece that was 86'd from my thesis. My mentor [hated]it, so I took it out. But, as I am completely blank this evening I will post it here with all of its uncomfortable metaphors, and with the knowledge that "it wasn't quite there yet." (But, I always kind of liked it the way it is).

Dear Children,

What I have to offer you is not real. I may say that we will get ice cream, but it is the idea of ice cream that you love. The sea green paint color of mint, the pink pearl of strawberry, the creamy drops of vanilla dotted with hints of chocolate chips, or better yet—the polka dots of M&Ms, their shellacked candy shells bleeding out into the stew of it. It is the idea of the ice cream that you love, which is why I do not bother to get you ice cream.
I will offer you many of these suggestions in the course of a day to keep excitement levels high and drive away boredom. Most of these carefully hinted at plans will never come to fruition, or if they do, like the trip to the library, the outing to the zoo, they are an utter disappointment. Someone assuredly falls on his or her head, or in the end does not have the perfect experience that the excursion promised in theory. It is the anticipation that makes the excitement. It is the idea of ice cream that makes it taste so good.
I wonder how old you will be when you start to recognize this behavior of mine as broken promises. These magical whims we have, where I take you to impossible places, and plant notions of glossy maraschinos and bananas drowning in chocolate sauce. When will the day arrive that you notice that there is no ice cream?
Last week was our first visit to the ice cream truck. It was a coincidence that we had four dollar bills at the same time. We were at the beach. The tinny, music box sound of Popsicle Joe was warning siren to all the children. The sound even I was condition to chase after at the first echo, clutching my coins and running after the truck if that’s what it took. I wanted that for both of you, too. So this time we got ice cream.
Son, I carried you on my hip. Daughter, you held my hand, and between our clammy, lake-pruned palms rests the money that we can barely spare. We walked to the back of the truck, music still blasting The Entertainer so loud the pitch is almost distorted (it is the idea of a song, the ostentatious projections, not the song itself that makes it exciting). Anna, you pointed at what looked best: a Drumstick. A dipped cone covered in peanuts. A classic. You get one for yourself, one for your little brother who is begging. I paid, received seventy-five cents change in frozen quarters.
We walked back to the beach towels and each of you ate off every piece of chocolate, sucked out the milkshake-like drops coming from the hole in the bottom of the cone, then someone suggests swimming. With the suggestion of jumping into the freezing, duck filled lake you both chuck your ice cream into the dirty ashtray ground of the public beach, racing to the water, flapping your puddle jumper and pink water wings. But, like the ice cream, it is the idea of swimming. As you shiver in the waves it is the idea of home, of the bath tub, of fuzzy sleepers, that you will protest. You will fight off home for as long as you can until I carry you away, and you are finally warm in your pajamas, snuggled on my lap the same way we do it every night, the way neither of us could end a day without.

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