The experience of a baby boomer at an ice-cream shop.
Unfurling my light days for scope when there is room
I'm moon in the making, a moon yet to bloom
I just wandered in and out of shops, finally landing at the basement to look in at Big Bazaar as I usually do, and get lost there, which again, I usually do. Then I went into the Ice-cream Shop. For a moment I felt like I had gotten out of a spaceship that had landed me in the future. The guy showed me a row of cups and looked questioningly at me. I smiled back at him and said candidly, "I don't know how to do this." He gave me a quirky, gentle smile, and chose the smallest cup there. "Holds two scoops," he said. "I'll have one." "Which one?" Which one was purple, yellow, pink, green, white...all colors of the rainbow. "Butterscotch," I said. People never change, especially if you're a baby boomer who's seen only vanilla and butterscotch.
He moved to the next counter. "Cherries!" I cried. He added those. I pointed to some stuff. He shook his head. "Nuts?" I asked. He added some nuts. I pointed to some more stuff. He shook his head. "Caramel," he said, and squeezed some liberally all over the ice-cream and gave it to me. I knew how to take my own spoon and tissue paper, yey!
A couple vacated their seats, and I sat down to eat my ice-cream and get on my favourite hobby horse of watching people. A couple and a little girl, about ten years old, sat at the table in front. The woman was young...too young...and pretty...even beautiful. She had done something interesting to her hair, stuck a pair of dark glasses on them too, her dress was different, it was flowing, laced and neither a skirt nor a gown, and it was light lime coloured, the kind that sets off any woman's even non-existent charm. She had a dimple too! She simply could not keep her hands off of the man and kept brushing his cheeks lovingly with her palms, smiling at him like he was a child, giving him adoring looks. The guy, who really looked like a well-nourished puppy, lapped it all up. "Not married," I decided. "Definitely not married. Can't imagine a married woman doing that or looking like that at her hubby. Before the second brush of the palm over the cheek, the married woman would remember he hadn't helped with the laundry that morning." Yes, of course, I'm biased and wrong! There are good marriages! It's just that I've seen so many break down....or just die a silent death...
The little girl watched on indifferently, eating her ice-cream with the slow assessing precision of the connoisseur. Who was she? Not a sister, definitely. There was none of the supervisory admonishing attitude in either of the couple. In fact, they tended to ignore her completely. A tag-along, I decided. Didn't want to bring her, but she tagged along. Good for her. She had her ice-cream, and some free romance to watch. I would have done the same at her age.
A father and a little girl of about 8-10 years old walked in. The mother tagged along a little behind, a dead-pan look on her face. "What ice-cream will you have?" asked the man, loudly. "Papa, I will have the pink one! I love all things the color pink," replied the child. She was quite cute, fair, and wearing...ah, a pink dress that was at once skimpy and cute. She had a Barbie in her arms, also in pink with a pink bow. The father looked around proudly. His daughter spoke English! Just as well, because the other couple near the door, whose little son was eating ice-cream like it was the last meal he was ever going to have, immediately turned in the direction of the voice that had spoken such 'perfect' English. They gave the parents an envious look and stared at the little girl, surely wondering which school she went to. The mother of the little girl, an older version of her, sat in a corner, smiling, and ate the ice-cream the man brought her. He had not asked her preferences, so either he knew what she wanted or she didn't care much and let him decide. Certainly, she did not display any of the bright-eyed excitement and expectancy for ice-cream that mysteriously defies the laws of aging. And yet, there was a kind of lethargy in the woman's face. She was bored... Was my own depression making me presume a reflection in others?
I wondered at what point she would narrow down the boredom to depression. Maybe never...