The Story Behind the Story of a Chocolate Milkshake
Yesterday I met my friend Linda Benson for lunch at Taylor’s in Springfield. To accessorize my loaded double cheeseburger I ordered a chocolate milkshake, medium size. Something as ordinary as ordering a milkshake may not seem noteworthy to you but for me the sweet liquid flowing up my straw was laced with memories and associations.
I was a slender kid with a yen to look more like the well-muscled boys at school. My dad loved chocolate and doted on the milkshakes Mom would whip up for us at home, sometimes several a week. They both agreed that all those milkshakes would help me bulk up and who was I to argue with a sweet deal like that? As a teen I took jobs at hard labor (unloading boxcars, working with a jack hammer, digging ditches, pouring concrete, stacking concrete blocks . . .) to help build strength for my pitching arm, but I relied heavily on those chocolate milkshakes to guarantee success. I was 6’4″ and 157 pounds when I stood at the altar at age 22.
As years passed and my waist expanded, I learned that it was going to be harder to justify the chocolate milkshakes that had always been part of my life. My doctor was the first to bear the news that chocolate and ice cream were not friends to a man who had gained 60 pounds over the years, and my dear M.O.W. faithfully reminds me when I pass an ice cream shop and sigh.
Now put them all together and what do you have? Sitting with my friend at a small restaurant that used to be the place to see and be seen when I was in high school, brings back memories of buzzing slowly around the parking lot to check out who was there; sitting in a booth with Sandy, drinking, of course, my beverage of choice. It made me think of my parents and the times Dad and I begged Mom, always successfully, to make us chocolate milkshakes. I remembered when I was skinny and worked so hard to put on weight.
I promised myself that I wouldn’t order another of these forbidden delights for months, long enough to atone for the current sin. I ordered a medium rather than the large that I craved so I’d at least have that pitiful bit of truth to tell my wife.
None of these thoughts took long. I was, after all, enjoying the company of my friend and our conversation was lively and far ranging. Still, even the most fleeting thought can be enough to enrich an experience. It’s like the cherry on top, of a chocolate milkshake of course.