smooth, cool, drippy ice cream. in the dead of summer, those 95-degree days when the humidity is so high that your sweat can’t even ooze out of you pores because it has no where to go, the best place to be during the eveningtime, after supper has settled in your stomach and your tongue is craving something sweet, is dairy queen.
nowadays i get a hot fudge sundae, hfcs-laden as it is, but back when i was small, and trips to the DQ meant driving across austin to the west-side of town (the posh side), usually funded by my aunt colettie, i got a small vanilla ice cream cone dipped in chocolate shell. the DQ was small, and normally so packed that we would take our cones outside and sit on the hard, plasticated metal picnic tables that left diamond shaped red marks on the backs of my legs from sitting on them.
before the ice cream melted, you had to lick it up, starting with the tiny droplets of white ice cream creeping out the pores in the chocolate shells. starting at the top, you bit into the shell, taking a chunk of the white ice cream with it, and suddenly your mouth was quelled; the coolness slipped down your throat and brought a shiver of delight in the middle of the hot. but you couldn’t dwell too long on the feeling. you had to beat the heat.
licking along the top of the cone often to lap up the ice cream, you slowly ate away all the shell, leaving a small mound of ice cream atop the beige cone, always one step ahead of the heat. sometimes you just licked at it. sometimes you bit a chunk of ice cream off the top, leaving teeth marks in their wake. eventually you were down to the cone, and it was pretty smooth sailing from there (unless, of course, you waited TOO long and the cone started disintegrating).
crunching your way into the cone, you eat your way to the bottom, where the criss cross of cone helped keep disintegration at bay. usually at this point the ice cream was gone – the shivers had subsided and even thought the heat was still heavy, you were a little less hot with the cool ice cream in your belly. at this point you had two choices – throw the nub of remaining cone in the trash or jam it in your mouth, drying out the last remnants of sweetness still hiding in crevices. usually i couldn’t throw it away – it felt like a disservice to the cone.
sticky fingers, sticky mouths, but sated, it was time to peel the backs of bare legs from red plastic and back into the reality of heat. it was a short respite, but it was a respite.