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And the lickin’ is easy

By Ann Beattie | July 1, 2021

Summer! Time to get in touch with your inner ice cream desire. How best to express yourself, with number of scoops, sugar cone vs. waffle, and—ha!—the amount of money in your pocket? Should you accept both the cone and the “safety” dish? How many napkins, huh, Virgo? Gemini? You Geminis might be juggling a pizza slice and beverage with that cone, huh?

Stride right up to that window! Gone is the protective Plexiglas, though a frightened teenaged ice cream server still wears … a mask printed with ice cream cones! Nobody can hear easily under these circumstances; it’s not your age. (No, the boy with the pink streak in his celadon hair and the nose ring is not muttering about what you weigh! He (assuming this is his chosen personal pronoun) is saying, “Hey!” as a conventional greeting instead of the outré “Hi.”

It’s fine to ask what size a small is. That’s why there’s a blue plastic container holding a cantaloupe on the counter—it’s not some vegan alternative. And, okay, if that’s too large, there’s probably a kiddie. That would be the green plastic dish holding the grapefruit. It’s also fine to ask if there’s anything smaller. Maybe there’s a thimble with an M&M in the bottom. Kidding. Go for the junior kiddie, which is kiwi-sized, or maybe opt for (those flies! poor kid!) the princess and the pea, minus, of course, the princess, who’s probably off riding My Pretty Pony. Or maybe she’s hard at work rehearsing for the next season of The Crown. You don’t want a pea-sized scoop? It’s even smaller in diameter than the kid’s nose ring? You’ll be in luck if they’re offering the maxi pea, which is strawberry size.

How about some sprinkles? Choose from tsunami (whoa! look at those grackles taking flight!), mini tsunami, rogue wave, or simply rolling wave. And don’t forget the napkins: pull out at least three, then remember that you have to clean the windshield and also blow your nose because of all the allergens—it’s more likely you’ll need three or four more (of course, some tear in the pulling).

How to tip? It’s always unclear: Whether it’s up to you to fill in the gap between the employee’s salary and a living wage, or whether it’s the employer’s problem (we know how that will go). Don’t mess up, though, and put your generous dollar bill in the wrong jar. college fund is what you’re after, even if it doesn’t seem that likely. If you deposit your money in the help hubert jar, accept that you had every chance to notice, on the front, the photo of the dog with bandages wound around its head. This might be a good reminder to swap sunglasses for reading glasses during a monetary transaction.

Reach out—as we’re told every day—and embrace your cone. You deserve it—as we’re told every day. Don’t squeeze! Don’t lick until you’re out of sight of other sweating, envious customers. And if you regret not getting the banana split? Guaranteed: they would have been out of bananas, anyway.

Bananas. That’s what the scooper was referring to—not your mental state, not the state of the world, or even a moment of reflection on how he’s spending his summer. Also, it’s on you if you spent more time thinking about the serving size than the flavor. You knew you really wanted chocolate, so what was with that panicked reaction, opting for Thai basil sour cherry with tsunami sprinkles?

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