By Susie Boyce Angerbauer
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Growing up in Stillwater, there were a few absolutes: turtles meandering across the roads every summer, Oklahoma State University’s Homecoming Parade every fall and the neighborhood ice cream shop. Some of my most poignant memories took place there.
The ice cream shop was the undisputed destination after any special event in our family. Such events generally highlighted one of us eight children — concert, recital, ball game — events worth celebrating. Our family had limited funds, so only the special kid got to order anything on the menu. The rest got to choose one scoop and one cone, regular or sugar.
Both decisions were excruciating, taking at least as long as the event that had precipitated the visit in the first place, driving my parents and the downtrodden employees to distraction.
We were all the special kid at some point, so we didn’t mind one scoop. Plus, we knew from hard-earned experience that the celebrated kid would definitely order way more than he or she could eat before feeling nauseous, leaving half-melted remains to anyone with a straw and a strong stomach.
I’ll always remember sitting in the ice cream shop with a group of friends, wishing — as only a young teenage girl can wish — that a certain boy were sitting next to me instead of clear across the room. I dared look in his direction, saw that he was looking in mine, our eyes met — and my heart truly flip-flopped for the first time. Soon afterwards, he became my first official boyfriend. The world was unimaginably glorious.
Until that same boy decided that other pastures were perhaps greener.
I cried over losing my first true love and declared that I would never love another. This emotional resolve was made while eating ice cream at the neighborhood shop with my best friend.
The poor fellow must have had quite a blow when he discovered his mistake.
When I left for college out West, I missed my friends and family. But the fact that my ice cream shop was three states away about did me in. I still celebrated events and cried over boys at ice cream parlors, but my favorite sundae with the pecans and the fudge and the caramel was never on the menu, color schemes were all wrong, and none of those places could offer memories.
Some years later, I fell in love with Jeff. He understood that pastures don’t get any greener and proposed. I brought him home to Stillwater, where I figured he needed to be introduced to my family and my ice cream. The family was immediately sold on Jeff. Jeff was immediately sold on the ice cream.
These new liaisons proved satisfactory on all fronts, so I sealed the deal with Jeff and offered him my heart, which included a lifetime of visits to the ice cream shop.
Because we haven’t always lived close to Stillwater, the gap between visits has been as long as a few years. This was recently the case until a job relocation moved us to within a 10-minute drive from a franchise location of my ice cream shop. Shortly after the move, Jeff came home to find me in a less-than-cheerful frame of mind. I wasn’t coping well after a challenging day.
OK, I was about to lose it. There, I said it.
This was not lost on Jeff. After a few minutes of indecision — these situations can be touchy; one wrong word, and he could be sleeping on the couch — he suggested that we go for a drive.
Jeff drove for a while, he talked, he joked, he got me to crack a smile. And then, without consulting me, he pulled into the ice cream shop parking lot, walked up to the counter and ordered me my all-time favorite sundae.
I met Jeff’s eyes and my heart really, truly flip-flopped. While eating ice cream at the neighborhood shop with my best friend, I renewed the resolve I made 17 years ago to never love another.
Meaning Jeff. But the sundae came in a very, very close second.
Our oldest daughter just made the high school basketball team, an event worth celebrating. We took her to the neighborhood ice cream shop.
She got to order whatever she wanted.
Susie Boyce Angerbauer is a former Stillwater resident who now lives in Highland Village, Texas.