Friday, July 1, 2011

25,000,000,000 flavors

It seems that whenever someone wants to make a plug for adultery -- or to at least knock monogamy -- he asks "What if you could only have one flavor of ice cream for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE???!!!"

There are so many stupid things about this metaphor, I thought I'd write up a few approaches to answer this.

1) Holding out for better

If we did courtship like we do ice cream, it just wouldn't work for me. Internet dating sites are kind of like that. You see a bunch of guys' pictures and get a little info, and you can pick which one you want to write to. Naturally, it's up to both of you to decide whether you meet, and whether you keep dating, but the initial process seems more like choosing an ice cream flavor or pair of shoes online. When I go in an ice cream store, I never leave because the flavors on offer aren't as thrilling as I'd hoped. I have frequently left online dating sites because the men just didn't interest me.

2) Too many choices actually kind of sucks
I have been eating ice cream for 28 years, since I was weaned off formula.
I've tasted a lot of flavors. I've eaten at local ice creameries that make up flavors each week. I've explored the multiple variants of gelato, yogurt, ice cream, and custard.

I've probably had about 25 flavors in my life, and I probably won't add much more to that.

I like the mint, I like the chocolate, I really like pistachio and butter pecan if I can get them, I like berry flavors and sometimes mango or watermelon.

I've probably sampled over half of the possible flavors. I don't know if I will sample the full range, and I don't care. It's not really a top goal of my life.

I have found that when I visit an ice cream store that offers only two flavors, I don't really care. I pick the one that sounds good, I eat it, I find it cool and delicious. When I visit a place that offers 50 flavors, I actually get kind of annoyed because it is so hard to choose. I only spend about 30 seconds deciding, and about 10 minutes eating it. But when I eat it, I find it cool and delicious, and I don't wish I had actually gone with another flavor.

I have not treated men the same way. There are billions of people in the world, so there are billions of men, and I definitely don't want to sample them all. Ugh. It would be impossible. I actually want to spend more than 15 seconds deciding which one I want. People aren't products.

3) Do you take this ice cream company and flavor?

If I swore an oath and signed a legal document saying I would only eat Blue Bunny Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream for the rest of my life, munching on no other flavor, whether in cold weather or hot, on holidays or Tuesdays, with bananas, toppings or plain, in a cone or a bowl, until my tongue crumbled unto the dust from whence it came,

And if all of my religious upbringing had emphasized the importance of fidelity unto ice cream flavors,

And if Hollywood films for the last hundred, and novels for the last several hundred years, and legends and tales of the last several millenia, had explored the wonders of finding the perfect ice cream flavor and the tragedy of ice cream infidelity,

And if one was traditionally supposed to discern this flavor -- not on tasting it -- but on sight, smell and nutritional packet information alone, because it was gravely improper to eat the flavor without having first sworn the Lifelong Consumer oath, so that a person would not only commit to an ice cream for life, but would have tasted no other ice cream previously,

And if I knew that other ice creams could be tainted, that if I strayed I might get food poisoning because other flavors were not as carefully preserved and other ice cream companies were not as scrupulous about testing,

And if -- should I break my vow and be discovered -- the Blue Bunny Ice Cream company could kick me out of my home, take my children from me, run about trashing me to all my friends and family, keep me in court for months, and send a representative mascot dressed as a mint chocolate chip cone to weep, curse, and throw things at me,

I might occasionally wonder about the other flavors, but I don't know how other ice cream flavors could possibly be so attractive to me that I would throw away my life for a couple of seconds of taste. And in such a society, a person who did would be considered a freak, someone with no foresight or self-control, who lived purely for their tastebuds and was pitifully selfish and foolish.

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