After dinner last night, I was hit with a craving for some sort of frozen fruit, like a nice sorbet or something, so I told Anne that I was going to run to the store and get some.
"I have a coupon for Cold Stone," she said, "why don't you take the kids and go there?"
The nearest Cold Stone is in the mall, and it's a bit of an ordeal to get there, park the car, walk across the whole place, deal with the inevitable mob of teenagers, blah blah blah get off my lawn, but when I was a kid and my dad took me for unannounced ice cream, I thought it was the coolest thing in the world.
I walked into the living room, and made the offer.
The kids raced to the back of the house in a blur of tennis shoes and falling Wii remotes.
"So that's a 'yes' I take it?" I said to the empty room.
Several mini-ordeals later, we were at the counter. A teenage girl with a stud in her nose smiled at me and asked if I was ready.
"Yeah," I said. "I'd like the Raspberry Sorbet." I stopped myself before I could add the kind that you'd buy in a second hand store.
"What size?" She said.
"Well," I said, "I'd like you to pretend that I'm three years old, and give me an appropriately-sized scoop."
Ryan, standing next to me, slowly shook his head. Nolan said nothing, but I saw his shoulders shake a bit, as he suppressed a giggle.
She scooped me a tiny little bit of sorbet, and held it up in a cup.
"Is that good? Or would you like more?"
It was a perfectly tiny scoop, exactly what I wanted.
"That's perfect," I said. "Thank you!"
She handed it to me, and I took a bite.
"You'd better slow down there, Turbo," Ryan said.
"Yeah," Nolan added, "you don't want to race through your sorbet too fast."
I put my spoon back into my perfectly tiny, little scoop of baby-sized sorbet.
Ryan burst out laughing.
"Dude," he said, "you drove all the way up here, parked all the way over on the other side of the mall so it'd be easier to find a space . . ."
" . . . walked all the way through the mall," Nolan added.
"All so you could get, like, three bites of ice cream." Ryan said.
"Not ice cream," I said. "Sorbet. Ice cream is too sweet."
Now it was Nolan's turn to laugh. "Oh, I'm sorry, Sorbet."
I looked at the girl behind the counter. She was trying not to giggle, also.
"Yes," I said, "three bites of sorbet, and it's exactly what I wanted." I made a show of taking a tiny bite and dramatically savoring it. "Now are you going to order, or what?"
Someday, when they're parents, they may understand that it's not about the ice cream, or the sorbet, or how much of it there is, as much as it's all about taking my kids out on a Sunday night, so we can have a good-natured laugh at my expense.
It was, in fact, exactly what I wanted.