Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ice Cream Personality Insights

The weather's been so amazing the last few days here in the Chicago area--highs up in the 70's yesterday--and when it's warm out, we start craving ice cream. We usually have a couple cartons in our freezer at home, but one of the joys of summer is taking a walk and going out for a cone or a cup.

We were talking about this the other day and kind of micro-analyzing our ice cream vehicle preferences. I'm a cone guy. My wife always gets hers in a cup.

The cup, says she, allows for greater control. She does not enjoy the anxiety-producing pressure of having to maintain the cone, so as to prevent the rapidly melting ice cream from dripping all down her hand.

For me, on the other hand, that's half the fun. I like the "challenge" of working the cone in just such a way that it prevents the ice cream from getting all over the place, and I've developed kind of a system that combines a steady lick-and-turn technique with the occasional large chomp off the top of the cone which I've found to be a rock-solid method of dealing with even the sloppiest of double-scoops.

What's interesting, though, is that these dueling mindsets are perfect insights into our respective personalities. I'm much more of a figure-it-out-as-you-go type of person, and this drives my wife crazy. She likes to be fully in control, to know what to expect and how she'll handle it. Conversely, her need to plan everything down to what seems to me to be the tiniest little inconsequential detail drives me nuts at times. So she finds the control and the ease of use of ice cream in a cup to be comforting and I find it to be boring, compared with the hands-on wrangling of random ice-cream drip patterns that typify summer cone-slurping.

There's even a product (of course) that attempts to solve this dilemma via a motorized rotating "cone". Ugh. How lame.

I will not be purchasing such a product, because I'm one who values attaining learned skills that take time to acquire. Cooking and playing guitar are both skills that took me a lot of time, effort, and dedication to become good at, but the learning process was enjoyable, and the skills, once attained, are useful and were worth the effort (in my opinion). It's really a basic philosophical difference about how one approaches life--do you want to do the work required to attain the ability to do things The Way They're Supposed To Be Done, or do you just want to take the easy way out and have your ice cream spoon-fed to you all your life?

Despite my clear opinion about which choice is superior, both are valid options. We're all entitled to order our ice cream in whatever form brings us the most enjoyment. Add kids to the equation, though, and things get interesting. Both of us engage in lighthearted "lobbying" to convince Henry that our preferred method of ice-cream delivery is superior, and the subsequent reasoning and explanation that derives from this is pretty hilarious.

I've opted out, to some extent, because in the rare cases that I've managed to sell Henry on the idea of getting a cone, I've found that the constant coaching that's required (" turn it. No, turn the whole cone. And then lick. Keep going....good.") is somewhat exhausting and I tend to neglect my own cone. I also usually end up eating a good bit of his cone just to "help" him, which I really don't need to do.

He also seems to prefer the cup. Or maybe that's just my wife's doing.

But beyond the essential question of cup vs. cone, there are plenty of other choices involved with going out for ice cream that can also be viewed as a window through which to view one's personality; flavor choice, of course, is huge. Or the question of soft serve vs. scooped ice cream. Toppings as well. To jimmy or not to jimmy? That IS the question.

You may not have previously considered your ice cream choices as so completely elemental and indicative of your personality, but, really, think about it. Are you someone that always orders just vanilla, amidst thirty other nutty, chunky, rainbow-colored options? Do you (like me) always tend towards whatever flavor has the most "stuff" in it? Have you ever asked them to hold the cherry off your sundae? Or do you ask for extras? Does the instant gratification of soft serve do it for you, or do you prefer the denser, richer product that scooped hard ice cream offers? And how does Italian gelato even factor into the discussion?

I'm feeling like I've opened a can of worms here, and that this blog may not even be big enough to tackle the subject. Perhaps this is doctorate thesis material.

I lick, therefore I am. But what am I? And what does how I lick--and what I choose to lick--say about me?

Enjoy the weather.

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