This whole story begins because I made a promise to myself to get more exercise even though it’s still hot but I needed a destination. A drive-by encounter with a friend who is running her snow-cone stand gave me this motivation.
So Friday I walked distance long enough and hot enough. In her ‘box’ she and I visited and caught up on grandchildren between customers. Background note for my northern readers: these snow cones are not crunched up ice it is ice shaved so fine it’s like perfect snowball snow but if you had to shovel this kind of snow, it would just suck.
Now, back to 95 degrees and I’m sipping something my friend handed me, wasn’t sure what it was but it was kind of like ice-tea over snow. A young couple came up, you know those people who are attractive and self-possessed, with social graces. They made a point of telling my friend this was their favorite snow-cone trailer and they go out of their way to get there.
I was feeling chatty I made a comment, she asked a question and then I found out they spent their honeymoon in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. . . apparently Thailand is over-rated, Angkor Wat was all they really saw of Cambodia but Viet Nam was amazing. Another question and then conversation ensued about the use of dash vs a parenthetical expression or when can one actually use a dash.
The well toned good looking new husband turns out went to Wesleyan University in Connecticut. . . BA in Arts and Letters. “Wait, you have a degree from Wesleyan and you’re asking this question? What do you do?”
“I’m a cop.”
“Really, Austin Police? You’re kidding.” And his wife say, yup, he’s a cop who has a degree in arts and letters. Now here I was thinking: this feels almost like a joke. So we’re sipping snow, she had cream on her pina colada flavored and I am thinking I need to try that.
The young husband says: “So have you read much French or Russian literature?” I am at a corner of busy and high traffic, the trailer on the far corner of a large parking lot for a Tex-Mex restaurant, rush hour has more and more cars on the boulevard, and he says: “Have you actually read ‘Proust” and finished it?” He slurps a spoon of red snow and all I can do is laugh our loud.
Proust. “In all honesty, no, I haven’t,” I finally reply, “Great sentences though and I love madelines”. He admitted to the fact he keeps trying. We both have read Victor Hugo and talked about how bawdy the Medieval writers could be. (My mind going: you’re an Austin cop!) And then we talked about Dostoyevsky, Gogol and Tolstoy. I told him about the newer translations by a married couple.
He said he was going to try “War & Peace” to which I told him I refuse to read that but I am giving “Ulysses” a try. And then they were done with the snow in the Texas heat and took off in their modest dusty vehicle.
I did not ask the questions I wanted to: Why a cop? Why Texas? I grew up not many miles from where they attended university as did my husband. But these two are my son’s age and could have followed a more traditional path, what used to be a path to upper-middle class homes in towns with good public schools. A path of a year in Europe immersed in a language and culture, or law school.
I wanted to but I have many younger friends who took that path and are in serious debt. I didn’t ask his wife what she did, maybe they live here because she’s a doctoral student. But I didn’t ask because when I blurted in my oh so graceful way: “Wait. You’re a cop asking me about parenthetical expressions?” and his wife looked at him and said, “Yup! Degree in Arts and Letters and he’s a cop,” her expression both amused and proud.
After they left, I tried another new food. . .snow cone with peach syrup topped with cream. Oh yum. Austin at it’s best.