Thursday, October 28, 2010

Soft Serve Ice Cream and American Pie

Last Friday would have been my grandmother Ruthie's 96th birthday.  It was from my grandmother that I learned the lesson that life is too short not to eat what you want.  (Despite some severe stomach problems that should have curtailed much of her diet, Ruth continued to eat Prime Rib, chocolate and ice cream up until the end.  As she liked to tell her exasperated doctor, "The little bit I have can't hurt me."  Unfortunately, it did hurt her stomach.  But I now remember the enjoyment she got out of food, and I don't remember her stomach pain.  This might be different for my mother, who was often Ruthie's caretaker).

Ruth LOVED hot fudge sundaes.  I remember ordering a sundae with her at a Hardee's burger joint when I was about 10, and how she asked the poor, confused, pimply cashier if they had wet nuts.  Nothing but the best for Ruthie.  However, she would always have them hold the whipped cream, because she was on a diet.  No need for those extra calories.

I have certainly inherited a sweet tooth from my maternal grandmother.  I have been known to ask what was for dessert before I have finished dinner.  I've never refused a dessert menu at a restaurant.  My husband has actually made enormous detours on road trips in order to help me find a world class type of chocolate.  Sweets are my downfall.

Now that I am trying to lose some of my baby weight, however, I'm trying to limit my sweets.  This is terribly difficult during the month of October.  Candy and pies are everywhere.  So I give myself a sticker on the calendar for every day that I go without sweets--aiming for three sweet free days a week.  Thank goodness for stickers, because there is no way I could do this otherwise.

On Monday, my mom came for a visit.  Monday was a sweet free day for me, so I had no dessert to offer my mom after we finished dinner.  On Tuesday, we were out and about with LO at the library when a sugar craving hit.  I had been thinking about hot fudge sundaes because Mom and I had been reminiscing about Ruthie.  I asked Mom if she wanted to go to a drive-in for some ice cream.

I have been charmed by the fact that Lafayette has actual, old-fashioned drive-in restaurants.  I've been wanting to go to one ever since J and I moved here, but it's never been convenient.  With LO quiet in his car seat, the sun shining, and stories about Ruthie on our lips, Tuesday afternoon seemed like the perfect time.

We parked the car and ordered two hot fudge sundaes.  We wondered if the car hop would actually be on roller skates and if we should tip him.  LO began stirring and making some initial signs of protest.  We asked him to please give us ten minutes to eat our ice cream--because while it is possible to eat ice cream to the tune of a screaming baby, it is very difficult to enjoy it as it is meant to be enjoyed.

Our car hop did indeed wear roller skates and was happy to take our dollar in tip.  Unfortunately, LO chose that time to let out one of his eardrum piercing wails.  I got out of the driver's seat and climbed in beside my son.  I calmed him, and continued eating my ice cream.

At some point while I was eating, "American Pie" by Don McLean came on the car radio.  According to family legend, my mother used to stick her left leg out the window of her car when that song came on the radio.  (I've never been able to figure out how to do that, but I've always driven compact manual cars.  And Mom would have been horrified to see her teenage driver do what she did.)

Between the hot fudge sundae, my beautiful son, my mom, and "American Pie," I felt for a moment like there were four generations of my family in the car.  It made me realize that I will be teaching my son about the importance of eating dessert, and how "A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile."  And maybe someday, LO will teach his children about the joys of Lafayette's drive-in restaurants bringing it all together.