The Bottom Line? Gelato

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Image via Wikipedia

Today, just when I thought I was beginning to adapt to the lung-crushing humidity and sweltering heat of Italian summers, I realized that I’m not. My ancestors evolved to survive on cold rainy rocks in the northern Atlantic Ocean, and I’ve spent the last couple of decades (read: basically my whole life) in places where summer temperatures tend to hover in the high 20’s Celsius during the day with significant cool-offs overnight.

And then I decided to spend the summer in Italy.

Whatever impulse made me decide this was a good idea was clearly not thinking about the weather. From my first week of work, the camp director would ask me how I was feeling, and I had to put effort into not saying “Like a hot mess.”

Sometime around the middle of July I hit my stride with the whole weather thing, and made my peace with that singularly noticeable drip of sweat rolling down my spine at any and all hours. I no longer immediately assume it’s some sort of creepy crawly, which is a big step for me.

Today, though, my body was just not dealing well with the heat. I sweated bullets, had on and off headaches, and couldn’t guzzle cold water fast enough. Even my South African flatmates have noticed the heat today. “I feel like I’ve hit menopause” one cried this afternoon “I just keep having these waves of heat come over me.”

I smiled and nodded in a commiserating fashion, secretly green with envy. Hot flashes imply that there are times when the overwhelming heat goes away.

This is not my own personal summer, this is regional summer, and it’s basically unbearable. So after dinner, I did what many Italians like to do in the evening (even though my after dinner was about two hours before most of their after dinner) I got an ice cream. When in Rome, after all… or when in a small vacation town on the Riviera…

I’ll be the first to admit that I over-think my ice cream choices. Like many similarly trivial choices that I face on a regular basis in the course of life, the actual consequences of whether I spring for the three-scoop cone or stick with the usual two-scoop are pretty minimal. Likewise, the flavours I choose are pretty much irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. I know both these things, but it doesn’t stop me from standing in front of the display like a moron for several minutes trying to make up my mind.

Part of this is my general unwillingness to miss out on things, including ice cream flavours. I don’t want to miss any that I haven’t tried before, and I don’t want to miss any that might be even better at this shop than at the last one.

Standing in between two ice cream shops I wonder which one I should go to. Is there really any measurable difference between them? Not really.
So I get my little ice cream cone, (two flavours, hazelnut and coconut, from the place on the right-hand side, in case you’re keeping track) and walk towards the shoreline. At this point I could get sentimental about the bright lights, the warm night, the fact that I’m actually being paid (well, not this week, but that’s another kettle of fish) to spend my summer in a glorious, complicated, beautiful country generally goofing off and making an idiot of myself, sometimes on purpose, and sometimes by accident. But I’m not getting sentimental about it. Instead, I’m realizing that all ice cream shops are not created equal, and I picked the one that doesn’t fill up the bottom of the cone with ice cream.

Evidently I did not think this through well enough.


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