Custard’s Last Stand




Yesterday in Palm Beach, I made my pilgrimage to Carvel, my favorite ice cream on earth. I don’t live near a Carvel in L.A. or N.Y., so when I work in Florida I am totally, probably too, excited to get to go to Carvel. They make the famous “Brown Bonnet”, a cone dipped in warm chocolate that immediately hardens into a delicious shell. My problem is, I like the cone handed over in the seconds before the chocolate solidifies. It’s the most delicious thing on earth, and stays soft only a few seconds. For me, there is no comparison in nirvana between the soft warm chocolate on the vanilla Carvel, and the few seconds later when the shell hardens. The problem is, the ice cream can fall off the cone if they hand it over before it’s settled, so it takes a lot of persuading to get them to take the risk, dip it and immediately swoosh it over to me.

I always approach it the same way: I walk in, slap down a ten, tell them I need them to hand it over as soon as it’s dipped, the ten is theirs, and if it falls off I’ll pay for it and buy another try. They are always sweet young girls who of course give each other looks, but they’re always willing to try. So yesterday I walk in, slap down my ten, explain my urgent need, stock up on napkins as the young lady takes the vanilla cone over to the magical Brown Bonnet cauldron. As she does, five young women come into the store and wait their turn along the counter, looking at the ice creams and reading the menu. The girl dips the cone, but then loses her nerve. NO!!!!! She is standing there holding it, afraid to move as it might fall off. This was not our agreement and the chocolate is hardening. The chocolate is HARDENING!!!! Like the madwoman I am, I start screaming (I’m not proud) “Hand it over!!!! HAND IT OVER!!!!!” With that I hear things dropping next to me. I look over, and all five young ladies have dropped their purses and with looks of terror on their faces, have their hands up.

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