That wickedly funny and creative blogger at Aging Gracefully My Ass has written a most provocative post on the merits, or rather demerits, of ice consumption. I say “provocative” because AGMA has broadcast her dislike for ice in direct and unambiguous language. But for those of us who not only enjoy ice, yet also consider it to be part of the food pyramid, it is imperative to proclaim in a most royal manner that we are steadfastly not amused. Your humble blogger is therefore put into a position of defending the honor of the now maligned ice cube.
My defense, however, is grounded in the somewhat ironic position of enjoying ice inside a glass only. Like AGMA, I am a Yankee who long ago took refuge from the snowy and cold environs of the upper north. My distaste for cold weather is only eclipsed by the thought of having to buy and wear heavy outer clothing because of it. I furthermore find icy roads and sidewalks to be an example of all that is wrong with northern climates. Hockey is my least favorite spectator sport, and I join some in even questioning why ice skating competitions are considered a sport. So I do therefore offer at least some personal bona fides to the ice haters out there.
When it comes to a beverage, however, I most definitely want my ice. While the purest of whiskey connoisseurs drink neat only, I am happiest when I add a large ice cube to my Glenmorangie or Crown Royal. And, please, can you imagine a perfectly mixed Gin and Tonic or Seabreeze without ice? Utter blasphemy. I have even been known to enjoy a morning orange juice with an ice cube or three in it (I can only imagine the shock and disgust in some quarters by reading that).
Still, AGMA’s news that Europe is now embracing the almighty ice cube is surprising. I can recall with faint horror a trip that my ex-wife and I made to England back in the 1990’s. With diplomacy the last thing on her mind, she was bound and determined to shake ice loose from stingy British waiters. Midway into our visit, she became gravely unhappy with the token ice fragments placed in her beverage at each of the eating establishments we patronized. She also assumed the very same “stink eye” expression likewise transmitted by our friend, AGMA. I began that trip as my ex’s earnest and loving companion, morphed into Madeleine Albright to try to ameliorate the tepid iced teas she was given, and ended up becoming Ronnie Biggs as I did my best to eventually flee the country in embarrassment.
I learned fairly soon after meeting my former in-laws that there doesn’t appear to be any genetic predisposition with regard to one’s approach to ice. Where my ex demanded lots of it, her father was ferociously anti-ice to the point of arguing with restaurant help if any appeared in his beverage. In his case, it had less to do with taste and temperature and everything with simple economics: the more ice put in a glass or pitcher, the less of his soft drink he would receive. To further ingratiate himself with the wait staff, he would demand a separate glass filled with ice so that he could then add the “correct” amount to his drink. Watching this, I would slowly morph into one of the Borrowers, hoping that no one would notice me sitting very low in my seat.
Nevertheless, ice can be enjoyed in venues other than restaurants and bars.
I still find staying in hotels to be the highlight of any trip I make for the simple reason that it’s almost always the amenities that make it interesting for me. For instance, even though I rarely buy anything from the in-room mini-bar offerings, my head is almost always inside that little fridge within ten minutes of walking in the room. I carefully consider the morality of the $4.50 Snickers bar, while at the same time rationalize that $11.95 for Toblerone is entirely appropriate if paired with the tiny bottle of $23.00 Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon.
In spite of the enjoyment brought on by such gluttonous mental masturbations, I also cannot ignore the ice machine just outside that room. The grown man I am might be eying the minibar’s Johnny Walker Red, but the little boy in me is itchin’ to get to that ice machine. Hotel ice machines evoke fun and frivolity.
I don’t wish to generalize or appear as anything resembling a chauvinist, but it’s my considered opinion that AGMA doesn’t appreciate the playful nature of boys. Ice machines are fun! With one press of a button, a tremendous crash of ice falls down from the reservoir and into a waiting ice bucket. And just like instant replay, you can press it again and again. Just ask the person unlucky enough to have their room located right across from it. There may be notes to go over for tomorrow morning’s meeting, or perhaps a spouse is patiently waiting to go down for dinner. But for ten seconds there is this opportunity for light mischief and enjoyment.
Be honest: who among you has an ice bucket at home and actually uses it? Most people get one as a wedding gift from clueless relatives, store it in the guest bedroom closet, and it stays there for the next six years until the first garage sale. The hotel room ice bucket, on the other hand, is an object of adolescent amusement for audacious males of any age. That the ice might not be used during a hotel night is beside the point. The delight is in the journey not the destination.
Girls, hrrumph. They’ll just never get it.
I can still recall back in junior high when it was decided by an august panel of our peers that ice crunching was indicative of someone being sexually deprived. Except for the fact that to my knowledge nearly all of my immediate cohorts remained virgins though high school, none of us ever wanted to be identified in that way. So I would always make sure to swallow the ice cubes in my Coke lest anyone look at me in a knowing manner. Later in life I actually looked it up in the DSM for fun — it was just as I thought all along. Those tricksters made it all up. Crunch away, folks. It has nothing to do with your libido.
Ultimately I guess ice really doesn’t need me to defend its worthy place in our glasses, goblets, or steins. An otherwise witty and engaging blogger, I am going to have to accept the fact that on this topic AGMA and I will stay in our neutral corners of opinion. My only bone to pick with her is that she found a way to slip in a decent Donald Trump reference into her post, and as hard as I tried I could not. Therefore, she wins.
Until next time, I’ll take mine on the rocks please.