October 2010
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Ice Cream Catastrophe

A horrible tragedy occurred in our household last night.

Yet the evening started out so well — Janet cooked the best homemade pizza I’ve ever tasted, we took the girls out for a nice walk around the neighborhood in the stroller before putting them to bed, and then we watched some TV. Around 7:15 PM, Janet mixed up another batch of our incredibly yummy homemade ice cream and started up the electric ice cream freezer. Normally, this process should take no longer than an hour, unless perhaps it’s a particularly warm day. Already, our mouths were watering at the thought of the delicious dessert that awaited us… It is rare, in this household, that a week goes by without us enjoying our homemade ice cream. It’s that important.

And so, for the next hour or so, we both dutifully checked on the ice cream freezer periodically, ensuring that it was topped off with ice and sprinkled with rock salt to speed the freezing process. But to our dismay, at 8:30 PM the motor was still running strong, churning away with its annoying drone with no signs of slowing — as if it were taunting us! Well, that’s about the time of night that we wake the girls back up for a nighttime snack, and usually, Janet goes to bed directly after that. While feeding the girls, we both remarked that it seemed to be taking an extraordinarily long time to finish freezing, and still the motor didn’t seem to have slowed in the slightest. Around 9:15 PM, as we settled the girls back into their cribs (to the annoying drone of the ice cream freezer in the background), she said with a dispirited sigh, “Well, take care of the ice cream when it finally finishes freezing…” And then she added wistfully, “Enjoy it.”

With all the rest of the family in bed, I sat down and began playing a video game (all the while listening with one ear for that annoying drone to slow and then stop, which it was obstinately refusing to do). Every 15 or 20 minutes I’d get up to go check on it again, add more ice, add more rock salt… And then I’d just stand there, utterly baffled as to why it was still running!

Did Janet accidentally mix some antifreeze into the ice cream recipe? I reasoned that would explain why the machine was still running, but it just didn’t seem like the kind of thing Janet would be likely to do. Perhaps our ice was not cold enough? I didn’t really see how that could be. It was just regular ice, and I know I certainly wasn’t skimping on the rock salt. The water condensation on the outside of the bucket was freezing up into an icy shell, so I knew it was cold.

And so, as the infernal machine droned annoyingly, on and on and on and on, what had begun as a wonderfully enticing promise of delicious ice cream became an increasingly cruel taunt.

Eventually I glanced up from my video game and realized that it was after 11:00 PM. That stupid ice cream maker had been running for at least almost four hours! Something was obviously wrong; I didn’t know what it was, but I was sick and tired of listening to the damn thing, so I decided that I would just pour the ice cream out into some tupperware containers and then stuff it in our freezer and be done with it for the night, even though I was rather disgruntled at not being able to eat any right then. Besides, I figured, maybe I didn’t really want to eat any until after verifying the antifreeze theory with Janet.

So, with a grimace of disdain for the uncooperative ice cream maker, I yanked the power cord out of the wall socket and then snatched the lid off the canister in order to glare at the ice cream. What I saw within nearly made me cry…

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

The ice cream was, of course, frozen solid. It had probably been frozen solid for at least 3 hours already. The reason that the motor never stopped (or even slowed) was because the blasted thing had stripped away the cheap aluminum post on the dasher and sprinkled a mound of aluminum filings down through the hole in the lid — all over our ice cream! Our beloved ice cream! I was absolutely shocked.

Even at first glance, the situation confronting me was a full order of magnitude worse than anything I had imagined. But as I stood there pondering (no doubt with my eyes bulging and my mouth hanging slightly open), the full depth of the horror became apparent to me. You see, at first I thought it would be no problem to just scrape off the top layer and enjoy the rest of the ice cream. Then I realized that I had no way of knowing when the motor had stripped that cheap aluminum dasher rod. Maybe it happened when the ice cream froze, and all the bits of metal really were in the top layer of ice cream. Or maybe it was stripped right from the beginning and had never actually stirred the ice cream at all — in which case not only would the ice cream have separated somewhat before freezing (which is not good), but the tiny chunks of aluminum might have filtered all the way through the entire mixture (which I think would be really, really bad).

And of course, the final insult — our ice cream maker was now clearly a piece of WORTHLESS JUNK, so when I tearfully dumped this entire batch of ice cream down the sink, I did so knowing that I couldn’t even start over and immediately make a fresh batch to finally satisfy my craving! No…  Now we have to go through the whole painful process of selecting and purchasing a new ice cream maker; and since I’ll probably do that online, then I’ll have to wait for it to be delivered…

Life can be so cruel sometimes.

I Scream

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