You’ve heard of an ice cream social — an event in a home or elsewhere, using ice cream as its central theme, dating back to the 18th century in America.
Thomas Jefferson became the first president to serve ice cream at the White House in 1802. An epicure, Jefferson had his own personal recipe for vanilla ice cream.
Now, in the time of COVID-19 and President Trump, there are ice cream anti-socials.
These events feature meltdowns by customers in ice cream shops over having to wear face masks, having to stand six feet apart waiting in line — or even having fewer flavor choices on the menu. No Peanut Butter Caramel Cookie Dough? What’s America coming to? As Trump might tweet, “So terrible!”
The latest reported ice cream anti-socials in New England happened at Brickley’s, an ice cream shop with locations in Narragansett and Wakefield, R.I. In early May, one at Polar Cave Ice Cream Parlour in Mashpee, Mass., described by its owner as “insane,” made national news.
The Brickley’s events mirrored the one in Cape Cod in the rude, crude and socially unacceptable behavior of some customers.
Steve Brophy, who owns and operates Brickley’s with his wife, said in a June 22 Facebook post, “Over the last two weeks at both our locations, we have experienced on multiple occasions customers who will not wear their mask (asking us to show them the law) or are angry they can’t get exactly what they want due to the reduced menu. I, personally, had one man yell at me, ‘What’s your f—ing problem?’ because I had told him he needed to move his car which was blocking traffic. A few more expletives hurled toward me and I (for the first time in 26 years) told him to take his business elsewhere.
“Some of these customers are being verbally abusive to our young staff. That is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. I cannot ask our high school and college (age) staff to police the behavior of some who choose to ignore our rules.”
As if what these boors said wasn’t enough, Brophy also said in the post: “Another customer, who could not get exactly what he wanted, told our staff member, ‘You are babies. Are you going to let Gina hold your hand all summer?’ and ‘I hope you go out of f—ing business.’ ”
By “Gina,” the customer was referring to Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island’s Democratic governor, who issued an order on May 8 requiring all residents over the age of two to wear face coverings or masks while in public settings, whether indoors or outdoors. It’s the law.
The simple pleasure of going out for an ice cream, an all-American summer activity, is being taken away from adults and children, who’ve been holed up during the pandemic, by foul-mouthed people, partisan or not.
If they want to signal their vileness, maybe an enterprising one of their lot should open an ice cream shop: no masks, flavors like COVID-19 Cookies and Cream, and all abuse-spewing patrons welcome.
These ice cream anti-social events are likely to happen all over the country, especially as the summer and the 2020 presidential campaigns heat up.
July is National Ice Cream Month. I propose, a chilling out, a time for Americans to reflect on the nice tradition of ice cream socials and going out for an ice cream.
Don’t be a jerk. Stop hurling expletives and politics at shop owners and staff: high school and college students who are trying to make a buck by scooping your ice cream, making your life a little sweeter.