While we were lying in bed last night, I asked my wife what she thought I should write about, and she said, “Why ice cream comes out the bottom of the cone and how that’s a metaphor for life.” I said sure and wondered what the heck brought that on. I know she thinks things like that but rarely says them, preferring to say things like, “I don’t care what kind of car I drive as long as it has four doors and a trunk,” and “Why don’t we just kill everybody we don’t like?”
If ice cream cones had Kryptonite, it would be heat. The sun, an open flame, and your crotch all produce heat. If you think it’s absurd for your crotch to destroy an ice cream cone, you’ve never had to signal while merging onto the highway and needed someplace to put your ice cream cone while doing it.
To demonstrate the danger of heat, one afternoon when it was a hundred degrees in Texas, which is like a thousand degrees anywhere else, my wife and I were walking across a parking lot. I swear we hadn’t lost our minds. In fact, we’d found an ice cream shop. I won’t name the shop, except to say it was like the Marble Slab, in that it had the words “Marble Slab” over the door. It was the kind of shop where they sell you an ice cream cone for two dollars more than it should cost because they crush a quarter’s worth of M&Ms into it. You don’t have to get M&Ms. You can also get Butterfingers, or chocolate chips, or marshmallows, which don’t crush all that well to be honest.
We bought chocolate ice cream cones with stuff smashed into them, because we like chocolate and stuff, and the nice high school girl behind the counter handed us cones with ice cream the consistency of instant pudding. The store was having air conditioning problems. The kind of air conditioning problems that destroy ice cream. Our ice cream! Frantic to protect our ice cream, we charged outside, which was slightly cooler than the face of the sun, and we tried to eat our ice cream within 17 seconds. That’s the time it takes $5.00 worth of ice cream to melt all over your shoes. Seriously, it was like trying to lick the sides of a volcano oozing Swiss chocolate and spewing Reese’s chunks instead of half-molten boulders.
A glob of chocolate ice cream as big as a cockroach hurled itself down the front of my wife’s shirt, and she flailed around like an octopus having a seizure. Well, that part didn’t really happen. The seizure part. Actually she went back inside and threw a bowl of those little balsa wood sampling spoons at the high school girl, and she told her that she was pretty god damned lucky because her husband disapproved of just killing anybody she didn’t like. Well, that didn’t really happen either. I’m not even positive that any cockroach-sized ice cream flew into her shirt, but I am sure we were sweating like some kind of jungle animals. Which may not sweat, now that I think about it, but you get the idea.
So, how is this a metaphor for life? It was all my wife’s fault. It was her fault because she drove the car that day. She bought the ice cream, too. And she didn’t threaten to kill a blonde 11th grader with a pair of ice cream scoops and a napkin dispenser, which might have redeemed the day somewhat. Therefore, I declare the entire wretched event to be her fault, and I am innocent of all wrongdoing. Because I’m writing the story of what happened that day, and I get to assign the blame.
That is how a drippy ice cream cone is a metaphor for life.
And life is not like a drippy ice cream cone. That would be a damn simile, not a metaphor.
I realize I didn’t say anything about why ice cream drips out of the cone. There’s a hole in the bottom of the cone. I shouldn’t even have to say that, except maybe my wife was really asking why there’s a hole in the bottom of the cone. The answer is “cheap cones.” Ice cream shops have to make back that quarter they spend on M&Ms, so they sell us structurally unsound cones. We just keep buying them like pigeons trained to peck the red light. But I can say for a fact that if you make a joke about there being gravel in the Rocky Road, the people at the Baskin Robbins down the street from me will poke a hole in your cone as soon as you walk in the door, so try not to do that.
If you think my explanation is lousy, just consider that instead I could have written about stuff coming out of your bottom, so hush and be thankful.
Photo by Ziko van Dijk.