I Bought Old People-Flavored Ice Cream
Last week I turned 44, and this week I bought old people-flavored ice cream. Butter Pecan.
You think I meant to say the flavor of ice cream that old people eat, but if a milk cow gets in the garlic, her milk tastes like spaghetti, so I'm just connecting the dots here.
I remember my dad eating butter pecan in that slow way he eats everything sweet, relishing every bite. And I remember thinking how goofy that was to go about it so patiently because butter pecan tastes like nothing. Well, maybe it tastes like that sticky part you lick on the back of an envelope. Or maybe lotion. And why would anybody put pecans in ice cream? That’s like celery in ice cream. It’s just morally wrong.
I don’t do patient when it comes to ice cream. I’m more the kind of person who stuffs half a bag of grape Big League Chew into her mouth at once. I won’t do that in front of you, of course, but I'll shut a door and Big League binge when nobody's looking.
It’s that same joy of going on a road trip by myself and eating an entire Whopper in the car alone, mayo and tomato and hamburger juice running down my face. Glory, glory. It’s an episode of National Geographic.
Half a bag of Big League chew, and your salivary glands release everything they’ve got at once, and you have to kind of throw your head back and slurp so sticky stuff doesn’t end up on your shirt. Major adrenaline rush, folks. For about ten glorious seconds, you’ve got Big League Chew heaven.
But butter Pecan is eaten with little tiny spoons in real glass bowls, and you have to eat it slowly, so it gets all melty at the bottom. That stresses me out so bad, I can’t even talk about it.
I didn’t mean to even buy this stuff, but butter pecan was the only flavor I could find in the cool plastic jar, and these Talenti jars make the best take-a-salad-to-work containers ever. They are just the right size. I needed another one.
I looked for something like Chocolately Chocolate Fudge Cocoa Bomb, or Iced Coffee, or even Raspberry Cheesecake, but the only flavor in the case was butter pecan, so there I stood, 44 years old, wearing a compression undergarment that is supposed to melt off water weight, and wishing somebody would offer to rub my legs and feet because I’d been walking around on them all day, and I have this sciatic nerve thing...
Not that I’m old or anything. Young people get sciatic nerve things, too. Right?
My eight-year-old was mumbling something about the rocket bombs or the big momma ice cream sandwiches, but they came in cardboard boxes. And my husband likes butter pecan. He likes old people stuff, and I thought that was cute when he was 24 -- a sign of good character like getting your shoes resoled.
“He’ll eat it,” I thought. “I’ll keep the cool plastic jar.”
But a few minutes ago, I was about to take a bite to him in the basement, and I dug my spoon down in that caramel ribbon and pulled up an entire pecan.
Straight out of the freezer, and it was already melty (does this stuff just not freeze?), so I caught the drop with my tongue to keep it off the floor.
Immediately I saw the front porch of my great-grandmother’s house in Western Kentucky with her wide porch swing. I was sticking my bare toes through a crocheted yarn blanket, and I was resting my head down on her lap. We were holding hands, and I was using my fingers to trace these beautiful big old purple veins on the backs of her palms. I loved those veins then, and she would laugh and tell me someday I wouldn’t like them so much. I’ve got those veins now, and she was right about how I feel about them, except that remembering hers tonight made me see my own a little more gently.
And I remembered the smell of fireworks shot on our back patio. Dad smoked a cigar once a year to light them, and there was that sweet mix of sulfur from burned fuses, and tobacco, and hamburgers finished grilling, and the tink of spoons in the bottom of glass bowls, picking up what was left of the butter pecan.
And I remembered two bowls on the counter in the morning, Mom’s and Dad’s, from where they’d shared dessert after we’d gone to bed. I wasn’t jealous, because I didn’t like that kind of ice cream. But it was comfortable to see how they’d spent slow time together, and here was the evidence.
Before I took that spoonful down to my husband, I stole a little more off the end. Rolled the cold around in my mouth. Then a little more, just the cream, smooth and simple as an undyed linen shirt.
A whole pecan. I went for it. A little bitter against all that sugar. Resistance against compliance. I flipped it over and let my tongue find the ridges on the back of that pecan, then I bit it in half.
Lately I’ve had to hold papers far back to see them. My close vision is leaving me, even though the doctor told me my eyes were young for my age. I’m going to have to get readers, which will slow things down, like sciatica slows things down, like looking back on life slows things down. I can’t run on four or five hours of sleep anymore, which slows things down. And my goodness, there’s just so much that’s going to be different if this whole pattern keeps up.
But I'll admit this much. Butter pecan tastes better when you eat it slowly. That’s one thing I learned tonight, and you know, it makes me wonder what else I missed by taking too much too fast.