Somewhere in a rural town, during a global pandemic, a humble young man goes into an ice cream shop, no masks `cause there is no need. There are only two people inside, a mask-wearing customer finishing up his order, and the scooping guy; no masks `cause there is no need. The customer gets his ice cream and gets out. The young man turns to the scooping guy and says “didn’t know we had any of them damn liberals in our town” with a smile on his face showing undertones of anger. The guys says: “I know right? The Gates-Soros-Zuckerberg snowflake generator machine has long arms, man, but I hadn’t seen that guy around before, and our town has only fifty people or so, so I reckon he must be a passerby”. The town definitely had more than fifty people, but the young man understood the hyperbole. “Amen to that,” he said “better keep the town pure. Some people are too eager to give away their freedom quick. One day it’s a mask, and before you know it, it’s a bridle”. They both smile and nod at the same time, creating a powerful moment of synchronous freedom-flavored social cross-validation that makes their hearts tickle a little, but they manage to keep their appearances strong and their gestures composed.
- So, what can I get you, my man?
+ I’m a simple vanilla-or-chocolate kind of guy, but I’m in an explorative mood today, so what’s your favorite?
- We have this new rainbow-colored flavor called the “Flavaganza”. Now I know it looks and sounds too fancy like something a poser would order, but man, I tried it the other day when no one was around, and it’s the real shit, man. Can’t stop thinking about it.
The young man squints in hesitation.
+ Not sure I wanna be seen having that in town.
- I could give you a sampler. It’s only one quick bite, and there is no one around.
The scooping guy shrugs with a half-smirk on his face. The young man raises his eyebrows and sighs.
+ Oh, what the hell! Give me a sampler. It wouldn’t kill me to try.
- It sure wouldn’t.
Smiling and excited, the scooping guy takes a sampler spoon, dips it in the Flavaganza container a little bit deeper than usual, takes it out, walks back to the counter, and as he is about to pass the spoon, his facial expression gets distorted in a matter of milliseconds before he uncontrollably sneezes all over the sample. The sneeze is of the massive kind when you can feel a subtle wave of extra moisture gracefully land on your skin. After a brief moment of awkward silent eye contact, the scooping guy says “Sorry about that, let me get you another one” but his body language doesn’t show any hints of feeling apologetic or any fast movements for correction, as if he is expecting confirmation. “Nah, it’s okay. Don’t worry about it” responds the young man smiling and maintaining eye contact, and with a slight shift of tone that sounds more relaxed and humorous he says: “Your freedom doesn’t offend me”.
The scooping guy extends his arm towards the young man with little change of facial expression, holding the spoon in a slightly unusual position right at the chin-level of the young man where it’s almost exactly halfway between his mouth and his right hand resting on the counter. The young man takes a glance at the lavishly colorful ice cream at the tip of the spoon, so overloaded it could fall off any second, visually screaming to be eaten before it’s too late. His eyes go back to meet the scooping guy’s, and he slowly moves his head forward and a bit downward, only breaking eye contact after his mouth reaches the ice cream when it’s too late to re-asses if the reality of this position is more awkward than the initial assessment done under the tension of the falling ice cream. In an attempt to get it over with, he quickly takes the bite and moves his head backward to normal standing position, as he performs a slightly fake munching motion to signal an honest and open-minded consideration of the taste while looking down and away for a few moments, then looking back up at the scooping guy and start nodding with risen eyebrows as the munching motion fades away into swallowing quickly followed by a “It’s good” confirmation. The scooping guy’s hand is still in extended position holding the spoon up close to the invisible line that connects their eyes. The tip of the spoon is covered in the saliva-coated leftover of the ice cream with a vertically brushed rainbow pattern.
- So you liked it?
+ Yeah, it was pretty good.
“Told you it’s good,” he says looking satisfied. Then he opens his mouth wide open making his tongue visible, puts the spoon on his tongue, presses his lips together, and pulls the spoon so clean out that it doesn’t show any signs of ever being used, at least from where the young man stands. He continues as he holds the spoon up like a token of pride: “tastes like freedom! So, how many scoops?”
The young man, doing his best to suppress whatever it is he’s feeling, takes a deep breath, scratches the back of his head, and says “I think I’ll take a pint to have it at home. Do you sell this in pints?” The scooping guy smiles, throws the spoon in the bucket that says “used spoons”, and says: “I think we do! Let me check the back for you. Just give me a minute. Okay?” and he does his neutrally-gestured confirmation-seeking pause again until the young man nods in approval. Then he opens the door behind the counter, goes to the back room, and leaves the door half-open behind him. The young man looks through the opening and stares at the distorted reflections on the stainless steel freezer in the backroom, trying to make sense of the colors and the movements to figure out what’s going on in the other room.