In the car today while driving my kids to Skyzone—a trampoline park-- I heard this Journey song on the radio. Immediately, the kids went into conniption fits and started frothing at the mouths so I had to turn it off…but not before it spurred a memory.
I remembered flipping the collar on my jean jacket with the cross-stitched American flag on its back, and how I secretly liked Bon Jovi and Journey and Lionel Richie, though I pretended Depeche Mode was far superior.
The specific memory from that Journey song, was this:
It was a gorgeous summer day in 1995ish…(and not 1980ish when the song first came out). My college boyfriend and I were walking in Eastown and having a fight. I wanted ice cream. He thought we’d had enough pizza and crap already. But by god, I wanted ice cream and I was going to have it.
I told him to just stop being so negative and live a little. “See,” I said, “Here’s an ice cream shop right here.”
“This is a Chinese restaurant.”
“Not anymore,” I said, and pointed to the hand-painted sign that now covered I Ching with I ceCream.
“I don’t know about this,” Paul said, but Paul was from Detroit and was negative about everything…except (ironically) Detroit. Whatever.
“Ice cream. Now.” I huffed and pushed open the door. It creaked. It actually creaked and I think I knew then that I had made a bad choice. A. Bad. Choice.
Dust covered the red booths. It was eerily quiet.
“I don’t think it’s op…” Paul started.
“Of course it’s open!” I snarled, because I knew everything. “Hello! Anyone here?” I called. The ice cream cooler was in the back of the restaurant. Like the coolers had been bought at an auction and squeezed in among old takeout containers and a fake-jade Buddha. We peered at the ice cream. There were twelve flavors but you couldn’t tell what they were because they were covered with a thin skin of freezer burn. “Uh…” I started…but by then it was too late.
“You want some ice cream?” A man barked. He pretty much just appeared and scared the hell out of me. I should’ve turned away then, but I was determined to prove a point to Paul. It wasn’t even about ice cream. I just wanted to prove that even though he was brilliant, I was also smart. I mattered.
“Yes!” I said cheerily. “How about chocolate.”
I heard Paul chuckle. Then I looked at the man with a stained apron and a slightly ripped white paper hat. He held the ice cream scoop like a hook. But that didn’t bother me. What bothered me was his weeping eye.
“Chocolate,” I whispered and gulped.
The man nodded and shoved the door to the cooler open. He scraped for about five minutes while Paul silently smirked. I could hear his thoughts. I shouldn’t have pushed for the ice cream.
While the Weepy Eye dude scraped my ice cream, I imagined infection dribbling down onto the cone. I couldn’t breathe. He handed me the cone. I thrust a wad of bills at him and ran out of the restaurant. Paul followed me. “That ice cream looks pretty good,” he said, all proud of himself.
I dumped it in the trash. “I’m not hungry,” I said.
A week later, the ice cream shop was back to a Chinese restaurant with new owners. I have never eaten there.
This is the kind of thing I think about when I listen to the radio. Huh.