After watching Cilantro in concert, we parted company with John’s family and decided to end the evening with an ice cream sundae.
There was a small shop just up the street from the park and the first thing I noticed was a number of specialty sundaes for under six dollars. Well, my eyes immediately fell to the peanut butter fudge ice cream, with the peanut butter sauce, covered with nuts. Below that was a sign that said, “If you ordered this knowing you have a food allergy, you’re too dumb to live”.
Let me throw out a disclaimer in case anyone gets offended by that last statement: That sign didn’t exist. But when I ordered the sundae, I assured the server up front that I did not have a peanut allergy, to which she, in good humor replied, “Thank you for letting me know.”
All joking aside, they have to be secretly wondering who is ordering that sundae in the hopes of scoring a major lawsuit somewhere down the road. The owner of the Turner Fishery franchise loses sleep every night, so you can bet this small town ice cream shop does too.
John and I walked up the street a ways and found a nice bench. While we ate, we looked at the shop fronts. there was nothing majorly out of place for a street within walking distance of a college campus. You had the standard beauty parlor with the 80’s window décor, a pizza place, and a second hand clothing store called “Upscale Retail”. Upscale Retail had a touch of the artistic as their window boxes had a piece of foam holding twenty empty wine bottles in place in an aesthetically pleasing fashion.
I know there was exactly twenty there, because when a woman stopped to take a closer look inside the shop (it was closed) I counted them quickly. From the intensity with which this woman tried opening the door only to settle for gazing in through the glass, I realized she was not a local and therefore not familiar with this shop’s hours.
“John,” I whispered. “I’m about to have a little fun.”
John nodded and when the woman took a step back from the store I said, “Well hello there. Have you been in that shop before?”
“No,” the woman said. “I’m from Tennessee.”
“Oh well, funny story, the owner of that shop actually opened for business twenty years ago. And ever year to celebrate their success, they opened up a bottle of wine. That’s why they decided to do that art exhibit to celebrate.” I gestured to the bottles and the lady from Tennessee, noticing for the first time, had no reason to doubt the sincerity of my improvised BS.
I never once let on that I was joking. But we did have a good conversation. For example, she expected us to have a negative opinion of Tennessee and I pointed out that I would never make fun of The Volunteer State. Besides, no one’s state is above reproach. Vermont had a eugenics program going on in the 1920’s, so we’re definitely not winning awards in the human decency contest, even if we did score a couple of major victories in the last two decades.
I could have also pointed out that the very first (and only) lynching to ever take place in New England happened in Northern Maine, but that is a story for another day.