SIxty Eight

July 24, 2011
“Do you folks serve banana splits?”

The woman in front of me peered above my head at the menu. Her face was wrinkled and her eyes graying blue. She leaned on the counter, slightly hunched, in a faded purple dress. Behind her stood a man, equally aged, in trousers, suspenders, and a newsboy style cap.

“Yes mam, we do.” I answered her.

Her focused features eased into a childlike grin. “Well I’ll have one please.” Her husband patted her shoulder and walked to a table by the floor to ceiling windows that made up the walls of Carvel.

I went through all the formalities of ice cream and topping choices with her, then as I was slicing the banana she leaned forward and told me her story.

“When I was a teenager, no older than you I reckon, I was a little farm girl. My family almost never had ice cream, because the nearest place to get any was too far away. But then one day he” she gestured at the old man she came in with “asked me to walk with him, and we walked the hour to the ice cream parlor. I’ll bet you can’t guess what we got.” Without waiting for an answer she continued, “a banana split. That was sixty-eight years ago today, and we’ve shared a banana split every anniversary since.”

I smiled and handed her the ice cream. “Well I am honored to have had the chance to make this for you! Happy anniversary.”

“Thank you, dear.” She chuckled.

I watched him kiss her cheek as she sat down next to him. They held hands while they ate, laughing and smiling with more passion than I’ve seen in couples half, even a quarter their age. After they left, I couldn’t help but think how every once and a while we need a reminder that, in this culture full of divorce and infidelity, true love exists outside of fairy tales.

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