Sunday, May 17, 2009

Good Humor/Popsicle


Some of the best memories are simple. Nothing profound, nothing to analyze at all. Just the bliss of a sunny spring day in an urban childhood. A day for shedding winter layers, for walking in sandals in the park, hand in hand with Mom—who agrees that, yes, it is a day made for ice cream. I remember being in Central Park with my mother, seeking out the ice cream wagons, looking for their boxy white freezers and striped umbrellas. Before the roll-out of the Chipwich, before the advent of the Dove Bar—each of these brands appearing in the decadent 1980s, the first boom decade of "pay more, you deserve it" (these ice cream bars broke the $1.00 barrier of the times)—there was just Good Humor and Popsicle. Simple, affordable, artificial, but still good. I remember Toasted Almond bars (my favorite of the genre now), Chocolate Eclairs, King Cones, and Neapolitan ice cream sandwiches. I enjoyed Fudgsicles, red-white-and-blue Bomb Pops, and the packaged ice cream treat I loved perhaps the best back then: the original Creamsicle. Sitting on a bench, sucking on the icy orange outer shell, trying to resist the temptation to bite through right away to the creamy vanilla center. I always lost that battle with myself, still do. In my world, ice cream knows no patience. I'd sit there with my Mom, do my best to make it last: the ice cream, her company, the rush of cold on my teeth, the sun on my face. Years later, I'd chase down that comfort in the cafeteria of my boarding school. I remember (calories be damned in my dancer's world, I'd shave them off somewhere else) ending up with bowls filled half with orange sherbet, half with vanilla ice cream. I remember closing my eyes, letting a mix of sherbet cream melt on my tongue, and it was bliss. It tasted just like a Creamsicle, tasted just like when I was little, when life was simple, and my mother's hand in mine led me to an ice cream cart on a warm spring day.

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