AUSTIN, Texas -- The past can be elusive.
Particularly when it involves ice cream.
Mine is filled with gallons of it. Wait, vats of it. Nay, tankers of it. I was an Amy's Ice Creams scooper. Never heard of it? Then you haven't been to Austin.
Amy's is an institution since 1984. Velvety ice cream with just about any candy confection imaginable either already stuck inside or at the ready to be crushed in by the scooper. Back in the day, when there was just the one store on Guadalupe, instead of 15, the line for service would double back on itself and go out their door till after midnight.
On Wednesday's if you got stuck inside at closing time -- midnight -- Rick Redman and I used to make you do the Time Warp before you could leave. Come to find out there are very few Cinderellas in Austin.
Yep, that was me. Hippy hair. Goofy hat. Literally a Goofy hat. Ears and all. (Seriously, check the Austin-American Statesman archives circa 1989. Somewhere there is a photo of me slinging through the stuff. I remember it as a six-column wide section front. Might've just been a mug shot.)
It was with four years of experience and some lingering scoop swagger that a call was placed to founder Amy Simmons about the upcoming Amy's Ice Creams Trick Olympics. It was the eighth annual gathering of these athletes and they are, let's see here, unusual? No. Unique? Nope. Eclectic talents. That works. And this time I was going to join the fray. Cue John William's “Summon the Heroes”.
Or maybe just Richard Dawson saying, “Survey says?”
“You'd better practice,” Amy told me when I sprang my brilliant idea on her. “These guys are good.”
Pshaw. I was fastest scooper two years running. (Yes, it is a real award and I had the trophies to prove it.)
“Maybe you should just come to a store and work on some tricks,” cautioned Aaron Clay, Amy's right-hand man in all things dealing with publicity.
C'mon. Have a little faith. There was a time when I could throw a scoop across Guadalupe. Even threw one into a moving jeep one time. (By the way, Belgian Chocolate flies the best. Something to do with the lack of viscosity and the way it came off the shovel-like implements of destruction we scoopers used called spades.)
So it was with no practice and two decades away from the counter that I stepped into the arena. The trick, as I learned, was to do my 10 tricks before any of my three competitors did their 10 tricks.
“A decathlon,” Clay joyfully explained.
“Of death,” I ruefully mumbled.
I'm not going to go into specifics. If it's one thing I've learned in two decades of covering other kinds of games, the losers rarely do. Maybe my tie might have gotten in the way. That and the fact it was definitely not Belgian Chocolate we were working with. (And for that my dry cleaner thanks you, Amy.)
Still as scoop after scoop flew off my spade and into the abyss of failure -- also known as the asphalt of Waterloo Records’ 6th and Lamar parking lot -- it was impossible not to think how fleeting the past was, especially as it was melting right before my eyes.