No, I'm not lactose intolerant. The reason ice cream made me cry is not that straightforward. To explain my bizarre reaction to ice cream I have to go back a few years - to when I first separated from my wife Arlene.
When I first moved out of the house, my youngest was 4 ½ years old and all three of my children were under ten. We didn't do the usual 'one weekend with me, one weekend with you' that a lot of divorced couples do. First of all, I wasn't going to wait two weeks to see my kids. Fortunately Arlene and I had a good relationship (well, maybe not at first) but a good divorced relationship. No screaming and yelling and blaming each other in front of the kids. Based on our schedules I usually took the kids either Friday or Saturday and dinners during the week. Plus, we attended all of the kids' activities without incident.
The days I spent with the kids usually ended up with us going out to dinner, then to Blockbuster (yes, it was that long ago) to pick up a movie. Last stop before home would be to the closest supermarket to pick up dessert, which was usually ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup.
I can't remember the last time we did that; my youngest son will be twenty-one this September. With that in mind, I was quite surprised by what happened to me a few weeks ago.
I was in the supermarket picking up something for dinner when I saw a young father and two kids near the frozen food aisle. Suddenly I found myself holding back tears and this incredible wave of sadness came over me. It hit me that an entire aspect of my life was gone forever. Obviously I knew that before I started weeping like a schoolgirl in aisle two of the Stop 'n' Shop but seeing this father and his kids just drove that point home.
Why now? I've been going to that store for years since I had moved to this town. One reason could be the following:
Recently I came across a small, blue notepad. And in the notepad were pages and pages of my kids names, repeated like a mantra: Amanda, Daniel, Alex, Amanda, Daniel, Alex. When I pulled it out of the closet where it had sat for years, some of the pages fell to the floor. They were water-damaged and dirty, but to me it was like finding the Dead Sea Scrolls.
When I used to pick them up for our Friday/Saturday ritual they would fight to see who would sit up front with me. I came up with the notepad to eliminate all the arguing. I kept it in the passenger door with a pen and each time someone sat up front they would add their name to the list. I loved how they used both first AND last names so no other divorced dad's kids could cut the line. At the top of one page was written 'New Order Alex, Amanda, Dan'; maybe Alexander was feeling slighted at the time.
Two days ago I had my boys in the car with me and I asked them if they remembered the notepad and writing out their names. They looked at me like I was crazy then both said no (ungrateful little so-and-so's).
I think it was this initial flash of the past that prompted the ice cream meltdown a few days later. The universe is clearly telling me to 'get over it already'.
Until then, if you happen to see a six-foot-two man weeping quietly to himself in the frozen food aisle of your local grocery store you can blame Ben and Jerry for those tears.
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