he doors that slid open looked like two giant ice cream sandwiches, and I stepped inside the building with a sense of entitled glee. This was my favorite place in the world. This is where dreams happened. Or my dreams, anyway. Not yours. Mine.
“Welcome to Wonky Wallace’s Ice Cream Emporium Deluxe!” a shriveled old lady greeted me as I entered. Her image didn’t differ much from the peanuts they sprinkled atop their sundaes on Level 5. I thought her the most beautiful woman in the world.
“Is there anything I can help you with today, ma'am?” she asked. I raised a single hand and shook my head.
“No, but thank you. I know my way around the block,” I said. She hurriedly nodded as if she understood. She was young once too.
“If you are interested, there is a special on rocky road dipped cones on Level 8. Half off original price until six,” she said.
I jerked my head in her direction and gave her a wink, pulling down my sunglasses to do so. “Thanks! I’ll keep that in mind,” and flashed her a smile, along with the greatest hair-flip in the world, probably. She smiled back as I proceeded toward Level 1, the colorful food court at ground level. Level 1 only features soft serves, but that is 1,024 different flavors to chose from, mind you. It is usually swarming with small children and old folk such as the Peanut from the front door. It is massive. It is impressive. It is introductory stuff. I ducked left for the two elevators on the other side.
Level 4 is my jam. Level 4 is where you go after a long day of work to get flipped up, if you know what I mean: Dippin’ Dots. Dippin’ Dots out the wazoo, for days to come, until you can’t see straight from so much artificial sugar intake. It’s Heaven. Wonky Wallace’s Ice Cream Emporium Deluxe, which basically is Heaven, is the last place in America that they sell Dippin’ Dots, and their sweet spherical stash could only be accessed via Level 4. It had been a long day at work. DD’s had been creeping into my thoughts and distracting me from my workflow since noon-o’-clock. Worst part, it was only a Tuesday. A fix was necessary.
But life has a way of kicking you in the Dippin’ Dots when you least expect it. A man sat in my usual seat at the counter of Level 4’s Dippin’ Dot parlor. A gorgeous man. He did the usual action of scooping up said Dots with his little plastic spoon and popping them into his super perfect mouth like Xanax, but he did it with such grace. He was like the antithesis of the Peanut downstairs, a perfect vibrant supple gummy worm that the Emporium sprinkles over their MudBuster Parfaits. I thought him the most beautiful woman in the world.
New objective: hit on Gummy Worm Man.
Original objective: acquire Dippin’ Dots.
Doing both in the same hour: priceless.
I knew what to do. Like a giant ice cream sandwich shaped sliding door I slid up next to him at the counter all smooth-like. I placed my hand under my chin, squinted my eyes a little. Spoon in mouth he looked over at me, probably confused as to what this amazingly attractive woman was doing sitting right next to him.
“What up Gummy,” I said. “How you diggin’ those Dots?”
He swallowed his current round of ice cream micro beads and lifted an eyebrow. “Excuse me?” he said.
“You been here before?”
I slapped the counter and snapped my fingers. The server recognized me and set down a fresh cup of Dots upfront. She handed me a spoon and went back to her busy work.
“Don’t you have to pay for those?” Gummy asked.
“I have a tab here,” I said.
We ate our Dots in silence. I could see him occasionally stealing glances from my peripherals, but I just stared straight down the barrel of my cup and continued to gobble. I finished before him, slamming my cup down on the counter.
“Well, have a good day Gummy.” I made my way back to the elevators without looking back. Before the doors closed I could see him back at the counter, jaw hanging open as if I was a hot tomato. Which I was.
The doors opened up to reveal Level 1 again, and I could see children running around screaming with little gobs of soft serve all around their little mouths. Peanut was still at the entrance, hands behind her back waiting in silence. She peered over at my direction and I gave her a nod. She nodded back.
The other elevator dinged. Gummy stepped out. He looked like he had been running, which was strange because it was an elevator, but I’m not one to judge.
“What’s your name?” he asked. I told it to him. He commented on how it was a beautiful name. I agreed and said it was pretty dang spunky. I asked Gummy his name. He gave it to me but it wasn’t as exciting as “Gummy”. Gummy swallowed.
“Uh, so... Uh... Do you think you’ll be here tomorrow, same time?” he said.
I peered at him, cocked my head to the side.
“Why so buck-a-roo?”
“I was wondering if we could eat Dipping Dots together again.”
I frowned. It wasn’t “Dipping”, it was “Dippin’”. That “g” was a deal breaker if I ever saw one. I looked down, shook my head.
“No can do Gummy, I work alone.”
He looked down as well, perhaps a bit disappointed, but he would live. Gummy seemed resourceful. I patted him on the shoulder.
“See you ‘round, partner.”
I exited through the ice cream sandwich doors and left Wonky Wallace’s Ice Cream Emporium Deluxe after having consumed sixteen ounces of Dippin’ Dots from Level 4 and ten-point-five ounces of Gummy’s heart from Level Love. I’ll never forget him, even if his real name is more than forgettable. Who?