OPINION: You scream, I scream, and that's enough

·5 min read

Oct. 2—You've heard the saying, "You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream." I'm here to tell you this old saw is spot-on.

In my family, you are expected to love peanut butter so much that you'll eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon. There are arguments about brands. My husband and son are Skippy men; my father pledges fealty to Jif; and my paternal grandmother and those she "trained up right" go for Peter Pan. An "off brand" of PB has no place in the Poindexter clan.

I don't like raw peanut butter. At family reunions, I used to hear my mother insulted in whispers by relatives who suggested I might not be a "real" Poindexter. But I do like the other requisite that's part of the gene pool: ice cream. And as with peanut butter, Poindexters are particular about flavors, and the types of nuts and chunks deemed acceptable. Once we've battened upon a flavor, we've been known to eat straight from the carton until it's empty. Some Poindexters are borderline bulemic and will thrust fingers down throats and throw up in shame. Others just sit around, miserable, and silently pledge to do better next time. I belong in the latter category. While I love ice cream the first time around, I have no interest in the regurgitated variety. Besides, bulimia suggests the traditional Poindexter trait of frugality is lacking. Tossing your cookies — or your ice cream — is a waste of money.

While PB loyalties never change, allegiance to ice cream flavors can. At the moment, I prefer vanilla ice cream with raw cookie dough chunks, and if there are ribbons of caramel or chocolate fudge, so much the better. I like any caramel, and although I am not a PB fan, I won't turn up my nose at chunks of Reese's peanut butter cups — or any candy bar. Chris and I do not agree on ice cream. He leans toward rocky road, pistachio almond, neopolitan and sherbets, or even plain vanilla.

My dad used to make homemade ice cream in the summer, using rock salt and "junket tablets." My mom skimmed the cream off the milk we got from an old Jersey cow named Suzy, and the thick, rich stuff was used in the ice cream. Sometimes we got chocolate or strawberry, but more often, vanilla — until my dad began to take advantage of our pecan orchard and concoct banana nut. We kids never cared for that. We suspect this is why our father often made it; he didn't want to share, and who could blame him? In later years, when he gave up churning, he began purchasing a flavor of Page Glencliff ice milk called "Lemon Twirl." All three of us older kids hated it, since it tasted like frozen lemon juice mixed with nonfat-dry milk, and maybe a little urine.

Sometimes my mother took us to Mac's Drive-In to get malts after school. I chose strawberry; Lisa and Kevin ordered chocolate. My mom opted for vanilla (so does Chris, in the malt world). We didn't tell my dad. Mac's also had that chocolate stuff that you dip an ice cream cone into, and it hardens into a crust. On the other side of town was Brown's. They didn't have dip cones, but they instead offered the vanilla-chocolate swirl, or better yet, the "krunch koat." The ice cream cone was held inside a device that looked like a mini Ferris wheel, and it sprinkled small bits of nuts and candy onto the soft-serve.

I can't say this is entirely a Poindexter trait. Although my paternal grandfather always had either a carton of Neopolitan or plain vanilla — with Hershey's syrup, in the can — my maternal grandfather was a Braum's loyalist. He usually had butter pecan in the freezer, but sometimes he bought black walnut. We could always count on ice cream to be around when we visited. All four of our grandparents understood.

My son inherited the addictions shared by most Poindexters: peanut butter, and ice cream. I used the Oxford comma so readers wouldn't think I meant peanut butter ice cream, although in my dad's case, it could be. He likes to smear PB on his ice cream. As for Cole, he used to hide evidence of "sneak eating." Several years ago, he tried to camouflage a raid on a carton of ice cream. Instead of scooping it out and dropping it in a bowl like most people, he "skimmed" off the frozen treat in layers, leaving the surface smooth — like a drawer with a false bottom in a Nancy Drew mystery. He apparently hoped the next person to open the carton wouldn't notice the decrease in volume. He was wrong.

Recently, we had a couple of cartons of ice cream we got on sale at Reasor's: rocky road for Chris, a mixture of nuts and chews for me. We were supposed to be sticking to a liquid "juice" diet, but my husband decided instead of the pulverized kale, he'd go for ice cream. He reasoned this was liquid enough. So we wound up eating nothing but ice cream for dinner, two nights in a row. This reminded me of the first time we visited Venice in Italy.

On Facebook, I revealed my source of shame: "What do you suppose will happen to you if you eat nothing but ice cream for two days? The first time we were in Venice, we ran out of money so we ate nothing but gelato for three days and I survived..." I was surprised to get a sage response from Chuck Hoskin Jr.: "It's not a perfect analogy, but probably gives you some clues: Once, about 15 years ago, I ate basically an entire strawberry pie after a strawberry auction. [Wife] January was able to get a few bites in. My only regret was that I did not have four of them. Anyway, I ate basically the entire pie, did not get sick, and am now Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Most of this is a true story. All I can tell you is: Go for it."

That's all I needed to hear.

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