The Pandemic Ice Cream Index
Has it happened to you or a family member yet? So far we’ve escaped, but others are not so lucky–and it’s causing longer, slower lines at neighborhood ice cream and custard stands as well as testing the patience of hardworking scoopers and shake makers.
It happens to all of us at one time or another, but since things have gradually reopened during this pandemic, I’ve been an eyewitness to a new degree of the inability to accurately convey a preference. It’s a malady I can only blame on months of being holed up at home, separated from society without the need to make any big decisions–most notably, regarding frozen desserts.
I present to you a few recent actual events as evidence.
I’m in a properly socially-distanced line at a neighborhood ice cream stand…much like those in the photo above. At the front of the line is a guy who, let’s just say, looks like he comes here often. I can’t hear him order but the efficient worker quickly brings him two shakes. NEXT! Right? Nope. The guy kinda gives the two cups a confused look and asks, “are these mediums?” The attendant replies there are, in fact, smalls. “Aw, sorry…I wanted mediums.” The attendant apologizes and goes back to whip up two larger shakes. Meanwhile the line is getting longer and you figure when the attendant returns with the two medium shakes our guy will be satisfied. Heh. All this quarantining has his mind completely addled. “Uh…jeez…sorry again.” The attendant appears to be feeling around in his pocket for something–perhaps the cyanide capsule he’s hidden in his apron for such an occasion. “Yes sir?” “Uh, didn’t I also order two medium twist cones?” “No sir, you didn’t.” “Aw shit, sorry. Could ya do those too?” The cyanide is looking better all the time. He dutifully makes the two cones but that’s NOT GOOD ENOUGH. “Aw, man. Could ya turn ‘em upside down and put ‘em in cups?” Nah..cyanide is fast, but not fast enough. The attendant gathers himself and returns with the two, now, upside down cones duly placed in cups. Mercifully, the customer accepts them and leaves.
By now, with those waiting standing six-feet apart, the line is roughly 50 feet long and up to the counter steps a skinny codger with a scraggly white goatee. I tell my son, “this guy’s trouble.” Father knows best. Customer places his order. “I’d like two small chocolate cones.” Easy. Not easy. Attendant still recovering from the last customer quickly comes back with two chocolate cones. “Aw, crap. Jeez.” Attendant starting to take on that 1000 yard stare. “ I really wanted TWIST and not just chocolate.” Attendant disgustedly dumps the two chocolate cones in the trash, and remakes the guy’s two cones. Hands them to him without a word. Customer endures hard stares from those in line and submits to the walk of shame back to his car. We all hope the cones melt before he gets there.
My turn at last. The attendant is wary. He’s thinking, “oh shit, another old guy who looks like a Rocky Road short of his 31 flavors.” I pick up on this. I order. “Two small cups of vanilla and one SMALL twist cone.” I see the doubt on his face. I smile, and add, “and that’s my final answer.” He laughed. I laughed. I paid and left. The crowd applauded.
One day this will all be over. Our minds will recover, and it will be safe to once again order frozen desserts correctly.
Parsing the Pandemic
Like billions of people around the world my family and I are trying our best to get through the coronavirus crisis, elbow-bumpin’, hand washin’, sanitizin’ and choking back sneezin’ so as not to get it or spread it.
Of course, this is a serious situation but I always find letting my mind wander a bit helps me cope with tough times, so here goes.
Let me start with something that started with guilt and quickly morphed into a sick moment of entrepreneurial thought. Without getting too clinical, yeah, I was about to use a roll of Charmin the way it’s meant to be used. But as I tore off a few squares I suddenly felt guilty of using what’s become more or less contraband. Fear of long-term quarantine has people scooping up every roll of TP as if two-weeks at home means constant crapping.
Speaking of which, check out this listing on eBay hawking the stuff at 8 bucks…a roll! Some of the comments didn’t hold back on the human sphincter behind the listing.
Moving on..thankfully, I had a scary vision regarding all sports shutting down. We had planned to eat dinner at a popular sports bar. One with dozens of screens all around so you could normally watch hockey, basketball, baseball, golf, soccer, NASCAR, goat roping, ring toss or amateur cherry pit spitting…. all at the same time! With none of those sports, except maybe the pit spitting, off the grid for now, I started shivering in fear I would look up at the walls to see repeats of “The View” and the “Murphy Brown” reboot on every screen. Thankfully, the screens were thoughtfully populated with ESPN sports casts, reruns of key sporting events, and yeah, I think one did have the live broadcast of cherry pit spitting…until one competitor breathed in at an inopportune time and shot the pit into his gullet and had to be given the Heimlich Maneuver. It was fairly exciting and actually have bereft sports bettors something to wager on. His survival was the “under.”
My wife reported to me that eggs were in short supply at the grocery store. Really? It’s not like bread or flour or canned goods. You can’t really stockpile eggs for long. Are people mass-cooking frittatas and freezing them? I dunno. Sounds like a rotten idea.
I know a lot of companies are having their folks work from home. Since I’m semi-retired and mostly freelance I work from home about 99% of the time. If I get sick I figure it’s because I didn’t clean my microwave often enough and whatever’s growing in there is more contagious than “Old Town Road,” but only half as infectious.
Yes, we must be very vigilant to take care we do our parts to stay healthy and considerate during this pandemic. But I don’t let it get me down. In the wise words of Wavy Gravy during Woodstock, “there’s always a bit of heaven in a disaster area.” And probably toilet paper too.
Stay safe and healthy!