It’s Hard to be Mean

To me, summertime was synonymous with camp and Burbecks.  Burbecks was, and still is, the best place to enjoy an ice cream cone on a summer’s eve.  Located in Lowell, my old stomping grounds, it is right across from the Merrimack River with a great view of Pawtucket Falls.  But more importantly, it dishes out the most outrageous quantities of ice cream you can imagine atop of a cone.  So much so that an extra dish is as necessary as a napkin.  Burbeck’s was an occasional after dinner treat for those in the “clean plate club”, a reward for a good report card and a necessary stop when relatives came to visit.

I almost remember the experience of ordering more than eating ice cream.  I always ordered peppermint stick on a sugar cone with jimmies.  My brother always ordered by color, “I’ll have green please!”.  This type of ordering was for the brave as he would get anything from lime sherbet, mint chocolate chip, or eeekk…pistachio.  Can you imagine getting pistachio as a kid!  Mom always ordered a lime freeze.  I could never imagine not ordering an ice cream cone when at an ice cream shop but I was always jealous when she was still sipping away on the ride home and all that was left of mine was a few jimmies on my shirt.

Years later I would work at an ice cream shop dishing out this delicious treat.  I somehow thought that serving cone after cone would cure me of my love to eat it but no such luck.  I still enjoy a dish most nights!  I used to love to try and guess what people would order.  You could guess just by age.  The older crew, who drove up in their Buicks and then ate in their Buicks with their windows up and A/C on, would order maple walnut, butter pecan, rum raisin or frozen pudding.  The young parents always ordered something coffee, mocha or chocolate (read caffeine in a cone).  College students were usually in the candy category ranging from cookie dough to heath bar crunch.  And little kids ordered by color.  “I want pink!”  Hmmm, do you want strawberry, peppermint stick, watermelon, or bubble gum?  “Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum!!!”  The little boys always ordered Dinosaur Crunch.  To clarify, Dinosaur Crunch is fudge ripple with animal crackers dyed a fantastic shade of cobalt blue.  I was later enlightened from an ordering mother why they liked it so much; “It turns their poop blue!”  That was officially T.M.I. for me, a college student at the time.

Fast forward to a beautiful sunny May day and my husband and I decided to treat our boys to a cone at the Ice Cream Machine.  As we waiting in line, I read from the endless list of flavors careful to skip over Dinosaur Crunch.  My oldest settled on rainbow sherbet and my youngest on chocolate.  I settled on black raspberry.  We had a little stress trying to explain the two different cone types.  I will never understand why they call it a sugar cone.  How about gridded cone, mini waffle cone, brown cone, anything with a better description would be helpful.  But I think my son got it best, “Mom, I want the cone that looks like a triangle”.   Then he proceeded to draw a triangle in the air for clarity.  We ordered correctly and all was well in the universe.

As we were enjoying our cones, my oldest says to us,  “Mom always says; It’s hard to be mean when eating ice cream.”.  I had to smile because my grandmother always said that to us while we were eating our cones at Burbeck’s overlooking the river.