If by chance you’ve had the opportunity to view the John Cusack/Kate Beckinsale movie Serendipity, then you’ll remember the beginning of the movie and you don’t have to read the rest of this paragraph. If not, drop everything, come over right now, and I’ll show it to you so you understand the rest of my story. Or just read this brief synopsis: at the end of their serendipitious meeting, Ms. Beckinsale writes her name and phone number on the inside cover of the book Love in the Time of Cholera and tells John Cusack that the next morning she is going to sell it to a used book store. If he finds it, then fate will bring them back together. Fast-forward years and years and see Mr. Cusack as each time he passes a used bookstore, he picks up Love in the Time of Cholera and looks inside for that phone number.
For years and years.
Dear John Cusack, I get it. I have been on such an adventure.
It was summer, 2002. Avril Lavigne was demanding to know why we had to go and make things so comp-li-cated and Leonardo DiCaprio was taunting us to catch him if we could. And most importantly, I walked into an Albertsons one afternoon and unsuspectingly picked up a carton of Blue Bunny Ice Cream’s limited edition flavor…Lemon Zinger. And my life was never again the same.
Lemon Zinger was a concoction of lemon ice cream, vanilla wafer chunks, and delicate lemon truffles -- all swirled together with lemon meringue. We ate it exclusively all summer.
And then it disappeared.
Yes, Blue Bunny had warned us that it was a “limited edition,” but I refused to believe it. I thought it was a “limited edition” the way that the Las Vegas Athletic Club has a “limited time $5 enrollment.” (That “limited time” has been running the entire 13 years I’ve lived in Las Vegas.)
Fast-forward years and years. It is now 2011. For nine years, each time I have entered a grocery store, I have walked the ice cream aisle, hoping against hope to find Lemon Zinger on the shelf. Not once.
Have other flavors come into my life? Oh, heavens, yes. Are they superior to Lemon Zinger? Most likely. But how could I know? To not be able to have it – that is what pained me. It became my crutch. “I’m sorry I’m being so cranky today – I haven’t had Lemon Zinger in 8 years.” “I would do the dishes, but it throws me into bouts of depression since none of the dishes are dirtied with Lemon Zinger.”
It finally came to a head last January. For work, I happened to be at a grocer trade show, here in the L. V. Low n’ behold, Blue Bunny had a booth. I approached. A Blue Bunny employee stepped up and smiled. “Can I help you with anything?” she asked. Always the professional, I looked her directly in the eye. “Here’s why I hate you,” I started, and then began an emotional diatribe about my long-lost Lemon Zinger that had been festering in me for almost a decade. It ended in tears. She tried to console me with a Blue Bunny ice cream sandwich. Through my tears, I unwrapped it, held it in one hand and crushed it into my other palm, like a cigar. I didn’t even blink or look away, even though it was cold and stung a little. But I was enraged and had a point to make.
“I’m sorry,” she said, motioning for security. “But there just wasn’t enough of a demand for it.”
“Not enough of a demand?” I loudly and indignantly barked. “Lady, let me tell you a little story about a TV show called Seinfeld. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Then perhaps you’re aware that the first season or two there was no demand for Seinfeld. Believe it!. But NBC kept it around, giving it some time to catch on. Some time to be appreciated, recognized, and develop a following. And maybe – just MAYBE – it developed SUCH a demand that it became the most widely successful television show OF ALL TIME! How’s THAT for a demand, sister?! Lemon Zinger could have become Blue Bunny’s Seinfeld. But now…now, you’ll never know. You blew it. I hope you can live with yourself. You disgust me.” I turned to walk away, but went back. “If you still have any of those ice cream sandwiches left, I’d like one, please. And I promise not to smash this one into my hand.”
I share this experience now because about two weeks ago I stepped into a Baskin Robbins to get a birthday surprise for a friend. The Baskin Robbins lady was preparing my order and asked, “Would you like to try a sample of our Flavor of the Month?”
Well, I’m not the world’s most passionate guy, but I’m not stupid either, so I said, “Alright.” She handed me a spoonful of what appeared to be ice cream, and I shoved it in my mouth.
It wasn’t ice cream. It was heaven-churned heavenliness of frozen heaven. The taste came right back to me.
“What is this?!” I wept, and ran to the counter to read the label. Baskin Robbins Golden Oreo Gold Rush. Lemon custard ice cream and Oreo icing ribbon, topped with Golden Oreo cookie pieces.
Is it exactly the same? Not ingredient-for-ingredient. Does my mouth know the difference? No. No, it doesn’t. Spoiler Alert: John eventually found his book… and I have found my ice cream. I have been to Baskin Robbins several times since then. And I hope May never ends.