There might have been some sly maneuvering on my parents’ part that was too subtle for my five-year-old brain, to use the opportunity to determine what Santa ought to be bringing, but I didn’t realize that until much, much later.
The first few pages were always the Barbie dolls. Slim and elegant, with fashion plate eveningwear modeled after real designers with names that I thought were too funny for words: Oscar de la Renta, Oleg Cassini. I never liked those Barbie clothes; I was always more interested in the occupational clothing: the tennis whites, the ballerina costume.
Not so long after the fashion dolls came the One Thing, the crowning glory, the toy to end all toys.
I don’t know how old I was when I noticed it for the first time. But I remember years of Christmases, of the anticipation of turning the page and hoping that it would be there, that wonderful and elusive toy that never appeared beneath the Christmas tree.
The Snoopy Sno cone Machine.
This amazing plastic fabrication was the pinnacle of childhood culinary aspirations, right alongside the Easy-Bake Oven. Better than the Easy-Bake oven, it was covered in Snoopy. How could this thing be any better?
The trouble, though...The trouble was that the Snoopy Sno cone Machine, with its bright red Flavor-Aid syrup, is no friend to the child of hippie parents who demand carob instead of chocolate, who don’t allow soda to pass into their home, who labor to make their own applesauce and fruit roll-ups from scratch because they would never deign to purchase the processed kind.
And so, the Snoopy Sno cone machine was never mine. Never did I have the opportunity to shave a perfect cube of ice into a frosty, sugary-sweet delicacy by turning the crank on a plastic doghouse. I did get my Easy-Bake Oven, even if my mother took away the cake mixes that came with it and replaced them with the all-natural ones from the health food store. And we had plastic popsicle molds that could be filled with no-sugar-added-100%-juice. But it never filled that sno cone-maker shaped hole in my heart.
I don’t remember how old I was when my parents took me to see the circus. Seven, maybe eight? There are only a few things I remember about the circus.
1) There was a lady who dangled by her hair.
2) There was a clown in a cannon.
3) Someone let me have a sno cone.
It’s funny that I remember the sno cone better than the actual circus, but I do, down to the minute detail, the same way that I remember getting ice cream in a baseball cap and a drunk man shouting “FUCK!” repeatedly more than I remember my first baseball game at the old Yankee Stadium.
It came in a paper cone, waxed and twisted together. It was a single ball of ice, prefabricated, not shaved from a block or an ice cube the way the Snoopy Sno cone Maker did. It was grape-flavored, and they put the syrup on it for you when you ordered it, and the grape syrup was more of an inky grey than it was purple, and it tasted more like sugar than any single identifiable fruit flavor.
But it was heaven, and it was mine.
This past Monday, I was out walking, and I came upon a little food fair set up on the street outside a park that my friends and I frequent for lunch. There were all kinds of delicacies lining the street: banh mi, gelati, the most amazing homemade cannoli I’ve ever eaten. And in the center of the space stood a little stand, and a young man with two things that made my eyes light up: An ice shaver, and a giant block of pure, crystalline ice.
This entry is continued at my regular journal, teaberryblue