The Process of Friendship

My friend Jesse says that “ice cream is the only dessert; all other sweets are merely substitutes.”  I happen to be in total agreement.

Last week our wives decided to go away for the evening, celebrating a birthday or something, so Jesse and I decided to drown our loneliness in ice cream.  Not just any ice cream, mind you!  We remembered from our youth of an old fashioned ice cream parlor that had an ice cream feast: enough for two but often consumed by one.

So we set the GPS and headed for our destination 90 miles away.  “What are we going to do if we get there and the ice cream parlor is no longer in business?”  “It’s the process, not the destination that matters,” we determined.

We each had one of the “Belly Busters,” he had the old time cutie and I had the trough fit for a pig.  Each had six scoops of ice cream along with various other frills.  When we finished the waitress stopped by, dropped her jaw and said, “You ate it all!”  “Yes,” we replied, reflecting the tone of “DUH!”  “I’ll be right back,” she said.

The next thing we knew the siren was sounding and out came our waitress banging on a big drum and announcing that she wanted everyone’s attention.  Calling on us to stand, she then proceeded to detail for the whole restaurant each of the ingredients we had consumed.  She then had us push up our snouts and repeat a piggish confession of gluttony.  She awarded us with ribbons that said something like, “I made a pig of myself at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor.”  Sometimes the line between humiliation and pride is thin.

(Note: The part that bothers me is not the fact that I ate all of it.  No, it was the fact that I didn’t have to force down one bite; it all went down so smoothly!)

Now Jesse and I have been friends since 1981 and in the past few years haven’t spent much time together.  It was time we did.  We talked about families, jobs, retirement, cars, sports, commuting, technology, beliefs, friendship and who we are becoming.  Our conversation covered much more territory than the 180 miles we drove that day.  That evening as we parted, we gripped each other’s hand and said, “We’ll have to do this again … soon.”

You see, it really was about the process; the ice cream was just topping on the cake.

… Tom