These weren't just any sno-cones he was serving. They were made with all-natural syrups in grown up flavors, like Jalapeño, Barlett Pear, and Rhubarb, a far cry from the Flavor-Aid of the Snoopy Sno-Cone Maker. I'm not even sure if that stuff had a specific flavor besides "Red." What was it, Cherry? Strawberry? Raspberry?
I ordered one, and anyone who knows me well would know that I ordered rhubarb. Rhubarb is one of those flavors that I positively lust after in the winter months when the real, fresh stuff is just a tangy and perfect memory. My springs and summers are full of rhubarb pies, rhubarb compotes, rhubarb custards, rhubarb crumbles, rhubarb cocktails. I had my first strawberry-rhubarb pie of the season last weekend, and I can still taste the way the sweetness of the berries sets off the tartness of the rhubarb.
The man at the booth picked up his shiny silver ice shaver and went to work.
The shaver made a soft, rhythmic scraping sound as it moved back and forth across the surface of the ice block in smooth, fluid motions. As he worked, the sno-cone man seemed to find his rhythm quickly. He looked about, grinning, as if there were no place in the world he would better like to be than right there, shaving ice. His pace quickened, in a way that is difficult to describe without making it sound like a trashy porn, even though there was nothing sensual about the way the ice shaver stroked the surface of the ice, and the sharp scraping sound that went along with it would definitely be jarring alongside that sort of description. But still, he worked up to a fever pitch, and the booth began to jostle and shake with his every motion, until one of the glass bottles of syrup flew from the table and crashed into the ground, shattering on impact.
He apologized profusely, and dropped to one knee to pick out the largest shards of glass before anyone stepped on them. He fished out the bottle label and held it up.
"Bartlett Pear," it said.
"Which flavor did you want?" he asked.
I laughed. "Rhubarb," I said. "So we're okay."
"Yes," he agreed. "That I can do."
He went back to work, more carefully now, pausing between strokes to check the table's balance. Finally, my little cup of ice was full, and he poured rhubarb syrup over top.
"Sorry for the delay," he told me, nodding to the shining glass fragments still on the ground.
"No problem," I assured him. "Sorry about your pear syrup."
He grinned. "Don't worry," he said. "I have another one."
I wandered off between the stalls and crowds of people, savoring my sno cone and the peculiar thrill that comes from being alone, anonymous, in a crowd of strangers.
There's a very important thing to know about eating a sno cone. It's that the first half is going to be a little bit sweet, and very icy, and your tongue might get numb and you might think to yourself that it's not worth finishing. It might be a little bit boring. But then, once you get past that top half, the second half is sweet with all the syrup that seeped down into a pool at the bottom of the cone. Every bite is sweeter and drippier and more delicious than the one before. And that is the best part.
I've been competing in therealljidol for the past several months on an alternate account at the_vernacular This is the second half of an entry begun here: here.