At the end of our street is an ice cream parlor. It’s a franchise and it’s one you know, and my kids have always loved it.
I don’t keep dessert in the house but everyone is always welcome to walk to the corner and get themselves an ice cream cone. Up until 2011 the ice cream shop’s owner was a diminutive man with a giant smile. He and his wife ran the shop and employed a teen or two. On more than one occasion the kids or I would be short a dollar or fifty cents, he’d send us off with our cones and we’d return later with the money (plus a generous tip). Even though it was a franchise it was a neighborhood business. It was clean and friendly.
Sometime around the beginning of the year the man stopped coming to work. His wife came out of the back where she’d previously made ice cream cakes to help with the front. New teens were hired, and they were surly and inappropriate. Wholesome was replaced with tattooed and edgy, no one smiled, the store was dirty and closed a half hour earlier than posted.
We’ve started keeping ice cream in the house.
Mr G went to the store the other night and came home detailing all the ways that it’s just not properly maintained. He told me about chairs being put on the tables at 9.30 when there were lines of people waiting and the shop closes at 10. He talked about how rude the teens were that worked there, and that it was just plain dirty. We both talked about how sad we felt about it since our kids had grown up there. We talked a while longer and I realized my husband had a lovesick look on his face.
“You want to buy it don’t you.” I said.
“I think we’d be great owners.”
“It’s not for sale, but she can’t really want to own it anymore. Can she?”
And then we both realized that we didn’t want to be in the ice cream business and there are too many reasons to begin to list them all. We did want to preserve our kids’ memories and our neighborhood. But me, can you imagine me scooping ice cream all day, and being nice to people?