In Durham, North Carolina, there is a dreamy ice cream establishment called The Parlour. Within 5 seconds of looking at the menu, I stopped at the fifth item and ordered. “One scoop of Salted Butter Caramel in a sugar cone, please.”
I swooped my tongue across the smooth caramel cream and knew I had made the right choice. My coworker behind me ordered.”Rum raisin,” she said. I looked at the menu, two items down from what I ordered, and saw they use the same brand of rum in their ice cream that we drink in our cocktails.
“Dang, I didn’t see that one. Can I try that, Chrissie?” We took a bite of each other’s ice cream and oh my goodness. I’ve never ordered rum raisin before, and after tasting hers, I wanted my own.
“Maple walnut,” ordered another colleague.
“Maple walnut?!” I knew based on the two flavors I tasted that their maple walnut would be exceptional. “I didn’t go far enough down the menu,” I said. “I saw Salted Butter Caramel and stopped reading.” I studied the menu as I licked my cone. I decided we needed to move to Durham for a while.
Aside from frozen custard we’ve made at home, this was possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten.The cold scoops were smooth and creamy, like silk on the tongue, and the flavors were vibrant and authentic: they tasted like the thing they were supposed to taste like (I recognized the Cruzan rum in the Rum Raisin).
I observed the selections of each person in our large group — some had multiple scoops in different flavors, some ate waffle cone drizzled in sauce, some savored a single flavor. If I would have read through the entire menu, I’m not sure how I would have decided. Do you go with what you know you like, or do you take a risk and try something new?
Afterwards, as we talked ice cream, one colleague said, “I love chocolate. It’s my favorite. I know that if I don’t get chocolate, I’m going to be disappointed. But that leaves me locked into never getting to experience new flavors, right?”
I nodded. I know this dilemma. I suffered this very thing just now, tonight, when my family went to the frozen yogurt bar where I always, always get chocolate frozen yogurt topped with wet walnuts and Reese’s peanut butter cups. Always.
Except tonight. I felt like trying something new. I even tasted the frozen yogurt ahead of time. And tonight I made something different: Oreo cheesecake frozen yogurt with crumbled Oreos on top. It was good on the first couple of bites, but couldn’t sustain itself through the whole cup.
“When I order,” my chocolate-loving colleague said, “I get two scoops. I always get a scoop of chocolate, so I know I’ll have my favorite. And next to that, on the side, I get a scoop of something new I want to try.”
Genius. She knows herself well enough that she has figured this out. She has a strategy for ice cream.
I should have followed her lead tonight. I could have stopped with the sample, then ordered my regular, or even split the cup down the middle. I would have saved myself some disappointment. Next time.
And next time I’m in Durham, I will read the whole menu. And when I order, I will order strategically. Next time, I will order two scoops.
For the month of April, I will publish a 10-minute free write each day. Minimal editing. No story. Just thoughts spilling onto the page. Trying to get back into the writing habit.