The Problem With Ice Cream Cakes

I think we can all agree that ice cream cake is one of the best things in the history of really good things, right? Of course we can. Because who doesn’t enjoy layers of ice creamy deliciousness packed between moist cake? No one, that’s who.

While it’s a scientific fact that ice cream cake really is the gold standard of frozen desserts, there is still come contention about where the best ice cream cakes can be obtained. Some argue that Dairy Queen, that infamous monarch of lactose, leads the pack when it comes to ice cream cake artistry. Others still swear by the work of Carvel or Baskin Robbins, especially citing the latter’s thirty-one flavors as the basis for their claim. While I agree that these purveyors are skilled in the craft of ice cream cakery, they pale in comparison to the pure ambrosia coming out of Cold Stone Creamery. For the eater, their cakes impart the purest of joys that is unmatched by lesser cakes. But for someone like me, that joy comes at an uncomfortable cost.

For whatever reason, I am overcome by a deep sense of discomfort whenever someone sings in public. I know, it’s weird. Some people don’t like public breastfeeding, others hate public displays of affection. Me, I don’t like when people sing in public. Maybe it’s the spontaneity of the situation that makes me uncomfortable or that people with poor singing skills seem to be the ones most drawn to strong-arming me into being their impromptu audience. Either way, I don’t like it, which makes going to Cold Stone a serious test of my character.

If you’ve ever been to a Cold Stone then you’re probably familiar with the disgusting “tip for a song” policy they enforce on their employees. If not, it’s basically this: for every dollar a grateful patron drops into their tip jar the Cold Stone employees are forced to croon some familiar tune (i.e. that old classic, “Zippety-Doo-Dah”) that’s had its lyrics twisted into a heaping scoop of propaganda by their creamy corporate overlords. Still, I feel obligated to tip them because of the overwhelming sense of gratitude I feel whenever purchasing one of their cakes. Well, that, and I don’t want them to think I’m cheap. I’m essentially forced to choose between the lesser of two discomforts, which is in itself a source of a whole other discomfort. The whole thing really puts me in quite a pickle.

I haven’t found a clear path to deal with the situation yet. Thankfully though, there’s still one slice of ice cream cake left in the freezer to help me think. There’s a decent chance that I might need more to help solve this problem, but let’s all pray it doesn’t come to that.


We’ll All Laugh About This Later: Sleeping With the Fishes

Everybody has a few painfully awkward memories. You know what I’m talking about. They’re those times you think about and feel a little flush in your cheeks. The kind of stuff you hope no one saw, or at least that no one remembers.

Looking back on my childhood, I can’t help but feel like the universe heaped a few extra on me. I was always an awkward kid–the tallest one in every class from Kindergarten to high school. When other kids were shedding their baby fat I seemed to pick up a little more every year until I was the tallest and the widest kid in every class picture. But wait, it gets better. Mix that combo of fat and tall with a love of Star Wars novels and you get yourself a real winner. Sad sight, right? From there, all you need is a sprinkle of puberty pimples to build yourself a real-life nerd.

Yep. Welcome to the best years of my life.

There’s one gem in particular from those years that stands out in my memory like no other. Actually, I just lied. There are a lot¬†of memories that are equally bad, but I can’t stand the shame of spilling more than one at a time.

It was the summer between freshman and sophomore years and I was working on the campus of my Jesuit prep school to help cover tuition. Dave the groundskeeper had just sent all of us po’ students off for lunch, and being a socially awkward teen I needed to find somewhere private where I could munch on the P B & J my mom had packed for me. With only half an hour to eat I knew I had to be fast else I suffer the stinging wrath of Dave. I hoofed it across campus looking everywhere for a place to be alone, until I spotted a shady nook under the awning of the science building.¬†Perfect, I thought. Save for a few lonely orange cones, the place was totally deserted. I broke into a trot, aiming to claim this new hiding place before anybody else showed up.

As I got about ten paces from the spot a very strange thing happened. I sunk. No, I don’t mean that I fell or anything like that. I mean I literally sunk. You see, someone had recently been doing a bit of concrete work near the shadowy spot I had my eye on. Unfortunately for me, whoever had laid the concrete had neglected to put any sort of barrier around their work. Apparently they’d thought that a trio or orange traffic cones was enough to deter people from stepping into three feet of wet cement. No one must have warned them that I’d be on campus that day.

Here’s where you’d think it couldn’t get any worse, and here’s where you’d be wrong.

Just as I stepped in the cement–I mean the very moment that my foot hit that pool of grey muck–the foreman of the concrete crew came back from his lunch. It should be easy for you to imagine his irritation at finding a giant teen stomping around in his fresh work. Dave showed up soon after and immediately assumed that I had done it on purpose. Really, Dave? Who would do that on purpose? Nevertheless, the school shot out an angry call to my mom, who I’m sure explained the problem with her son.

“No,” I imagine her saying. “He actually does this sort of thing all the time.”

Man, what a bummer that was.

But alas, it’s not all bad. Even though the stepping-in-wet-cement story didn’t come up until I we were already married–whew! dodged that bullet!–my other adventures in embarrassment actually paid off in the long run. On one of our first dates, my wife was actually impressed by my extensive knowledge of all the goings on in a galaxy far far away (everything post-Return of the Jedi, of course). She actually thought it was cool that I knew so much about a made-up place full of made-up people. Plus, without all those shameful moments of adolescent shenanigans I wouldn’t be able to write my characters into painfully embarrassing scenes–something I enjoy doing quite a bit. And who knows? Maybe stepping in wet cement will pay off one day. We are planning to have kids, and if they’re anything like I was then I know there is going to be some cheek-flushing experiences in their futures as well.