Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Ice - Cream

I approach the table to offer coffee and dessert. It’s a party of five, parents and three kids. They are immediately distinguished by the husband being extraordinarily tall. The three kids are spread out in age, the youngest girl about seven or eight, a real cutie, with dark hair, a broad face, and a nose covered in freckles. There is boy a few years older, and then a teenage girl, about fifteen. There’s a clear resemblance between her and her sister. The table seems to be having a good time. I’m carrying the leftover pizza and pasta in takeaway boxes.

“Excuse me,” I say, smiling and placing the boxes on the table, “would you like any coffee this evening, dessert perhaps?”

The youngest child is bouncing around in her chair. “Do you have a tranquiliser?” Mr Tall asks me, laughing.

“Yes sir, we do, it’s called ice cream.” The parents smile. The youngest girl starts bouncing even more.

“Ice cream, ice cream, ice cream!” she calls out. I smile. The older children are smiling too, as though they are well aware of their younger sibling’s oddity. The parents have shared a bottle of wine and are obviously in a good humour.

Mrs Tall turns to me. “What toppings do you have?”

The standard. “Chocolate, caramel, or strawberry,” I reply, trying to engage the little girl, who is giving me a wide-eyed stare. She turns to her mother. Meanwhile Mr Tall attempts to find out if the older kids want ice cream.

Mr Tall is ready to order. He turns to his wife. The girl is whispering to her mother. “She said, chocolate caramel chocolate caramel!” Mrs Tall informs us. She turns back to her daughter, they engage in conspiratorial whispers.

“Well?” Mr Tall enquires, rather patiently.

“She said, can I mush it up, can I mush it up, can I mush it up,” Mrs Tall informs us earnestly.

“Of course,” I say, seriously. “However, first I am going to need to know what flavour topping you would like to mush.”

Mr Tall laughs. It is eventually decided that it will be one caramel and two chocolate for the older kids, with affogatos for the parents, just so they can enjoy the ice cream too.

I leave to prepare the desserts. I can’t help smiling. The family is clearly enjoying themselves, and being together on the holiday, engaging with their children. They seem really comfortable together. Not all families are like that. We see all types in the restaurant. Some of the kids are uncontrollable, some of the parents seem unhappy, some argue in public. The Talls, however, seem perfectly happy and it’s infectious.

So what is the moral of this story? Maybe there’s something to be said for good old-fashioned family fun with ice-cream.


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