By Nate Odenkirk | STAFF WRITER
There’s nothing better than spoonfuls of ice cream on a snowy December day. As you sit there with your two boys, Jeff and Stanley, in your hat closet, hiding under dozens of socks for warmth, you make up your mind right there on the spot. “I deserve a treat!” you scream out loud, waking your children from peaceful slumber. And yes, you do! It’s been exactly one year since you last indulged in ice cream. The boys, who are 14 and 12 now, are old enough to finally try it, too. You can trust them. You hope.
The five flavors – vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, peanut butter swirl, and French onion soup (you like raspberry) – each have an irresistible tang that will no doubt have Jeff and Stanley forgetting all about the freezing winter outdoors. But you are, of course, out of every flavor. You swore it off after you crashed your grey ’02 Sedan into a fire hydrant because you were distracted thinking about ice cream.
Time to go on a hunt.
You saw one of your Facebook friends post something about a “Museum of Ice Cream.” It sounds educational, but at this point you’re willing to take that risk. With a renewed sense of purpose, you quickly stand up and put on your fanciest hat and socks. The boys are very excited—it’s time to make some dreams come true.
You and your boys hop into the ’02 Sedan and speed off. You’re seven miles out of town before you realize that you have no idea where you’re going. Luckily, you’re speeding at 90 miles per hour and a friendly police officer pulls you over to help with directions. After giving you a 75-dollar citation for being a great dad, he tells you he has no idea what you’re talking about and threatens to administer a breathalyzer test. You laugh it off, because you haven’t had any ice cream today.
You haven’t slept at all, and you’re pretty sure you left your garage open, but no matter.
It’s three days later. You’ve crossed six state lines looking for a sign to point you to the fabled Museum of Ice Cream. You haven’t slept at all, and you’re pretty sure you left your garage open, but no matter. The boys are having a great time. You can hear them in the back talking about what kind of ice cream they’ll try first and arguing over who gets the bowl and who’ll be stuck with the waffle cone. They’re good kids and it comforts you to know that someday they too will own their own hat collection and won’t have to borrow from you anymore.
Suddenly, a lightbulb turns on in your head. You pull off the nearest interstate exit and race to a mid-sized supermarket. It looks promising, but you’re not going through the front. Instead, the ’02 Sedan barrels through the parking lot, coming to a screeching halt by the ice machine and generator in the back. You get out and sneak up to the back door, and it opens! Hurrah! You run inside, with the feeling that you are closer than you’ve ever been to the ‘zeum. After days of searching, it becomes clear: The Museum of Ice Cream is nothing more than the walk-in freezers located in every American supermarket.
Yes, of course! It makes so much sense! You shiver while you walk through the exhibits. Everyone is a little disappointed. It looks more like a place to store ice cream than anything you’ve ever seen in a museum, but you were never much of an “art” guy anyway. Jeff and Stanley dig into industrial tubs of vanilla as you do the same with your freezing hands. It’s one of those “interactive” exhibits. You’re all having a great time eating the store’s ice cream, and you’re wondering why you can do this for free before you remember lots of wealthy people donate to museums all the time. They’re clearly not doing this for profit.
Stanley gets a ham sandwich from the deli, and Jeff opts for a cheese string. You get a snow globe.
You and the boys end up consuming every single display of ice cream in the museum. You feel cultured. You feel metropolitan. You feel sick, and you’re not sure why. It may be the ice cream. You all leave the gallery (walk-in freezer) and walk into the museum gift shop (the grocery store), allowing your sons one souvenir each. Stanley gets a ham sandwich from the deli, and Jeff opts for a cheese string. You get a snow globe. As you’re checking out, the docent at the register asks if you have a membership card. “Oh, no thanks, we don’t go to museums enough for a membership. But we do love ice cream,” you say, smiling at the confused tour guide. You all climb into the ’02 Sedan and drive home, ready to get back to your warm hat closet.
A relevant thought enters your mind—Aristotle probably never had ice cream, or he would have written about it. You’re not sure where it came from, or even who Aristotle is (you don’t follow sports) but maybe it had something to do with the memory of getting lost in that ancient history museum back in the second grade. There you were, eating a bowl of raspberry ice cream, staring at a head of a scary Roman man. Transfixed by his steely eyes, you stared into him as the ice cream melted and your class moved on, without you, to the Native American art section. The ice cream started leaking through the thin paper cup you were given and onto your nice shoes. All you recall is finally looking down and seeing everything below the waist absolutely drenched in thick melted ice cream. All that cream wasted because of some stupid field trip. That’s ice cream you never got to taste.
Your car careens into a fire hydrant. ♦