Sunday, January 17, 2010

I See... Defeating Mom, the Ice Cream Nazi

Big Mormon families strung out on small budgets produce a wealth of tasty memories for those who survive them; I myself am a survivor of a family of nine. These circumstances transformed Mom into an Ice Cream Nazi, one who had to be defeated at all costs.

In our family of nine with only 1 and 1/2 incomes, clothes were passed down and food was rationed (aren’t you glad it wasn’t the other way around? That would have been too graphic!). Furthermore, there was a direct relationship between the amount of sugar and taste a substance possessed and the degree of control applied. Ice cream was cautiously doled out one symmetrical scoop at a time, with exactly two squirts of an unmarked homemade topping. We kids would watch each other with such intensity as the ice cream was dispensed; you would think we had just pulled a job at the local jewelry store and now were making sure that the loot was divvied up fairly. For kids kept from the riches of sugar-infested junk food, ice cream was like semi-liquid gold. Any hint of one recipient acquiring more cold hard wealth than another could spark several rounds of a civil war in caustic words and whines resulting in banishment from television or to our rooms. Hence, mom would carefully, intently, make her rounds around the kitchen table like a prison guard keeping rival gangs from attacking each in the exercise yard to insure that we kept the United Order of family fun food.

It was in this context one of us boys was inspired to sneak a voluminous strainer spoon out of the kitchen undetected and hide it in the far reaches of the freezer out in the garage. This was no ordinary spoon. It was a spoon so large, so immense in depth and breadth, it could cover half of your face when placed over your mouth.

In hindsight, the fact that Mom kept the family jewels, our stores of ice cream, alone and unmonitored in a freezer in the garage where three growing boys slept, without an assortment of alarms and booby traps to protect it, had to be regarded as nothing less than an incredible but unintentional windfall. Although it was no secret that Mom kept close track of ice cream, our habit of shaving ice cream out of five-pound buckets was premeditated, calculated family food espionage that spanned almost a decade without a single arrest.

We would wait until house activities wound down for the evening. To maintain the aura of a secret mission we were about to launch, we would keep the lights off, tiptoe to the freezer next to the workbench, carefully pull open the door, and stretch our guilty arms way back to far corners of the third shelf from the top. Going past the frozen corn, the petrified meatloaf, and the chunks of

another unrecognizable substance that could draw blood from you if your grip wasn’t steady enough, we would smoothly slide the ice-encrusted spoon out into the open. The James Bond theme song frantically pounded through our heads as we quickly and with evil intent scooped out our bounty straight into our salivating mouths.

I wonder now how many childhood illnesses were passed between us during those years via that frosty ladle; hopefully the extreme cold rendered the germs inactive. We were always very careful to return the spoon to its hiding place deep behind the collections of frozen, aluminum foil-encased mysteries. We had it all figured out: even if there was something of worth in that cavernous corner of the freezer, no one would want to go past what was in front to check it out. We were always clever enough only to extract enough ice cream to satisfy our taste buds but not tempt the ice cream nazi to notice that any had escaped. It took inordinate, unexpected amounts of self-control to just skim chips off the surface and avoid digging out huge chunks. Only years after we all left home (some of us had kids of our own by then!), when Mom was overjoyed to find her long-lost serving spoon during a random search and- rescue mission through the depths of the freezer, did we confess; luckily, the statute of limitations on pilfering ice cream had expired.

No comments:

Post a Comment