2003.11.05 Life serves up a scoop of the unexpected

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

The only hope for me in this life is that I sincerely want to be a better person. I want to be more organized and get more accomplished in a day. I want be a member of the early-to-bed, early-to-rise club. I want to do the things you’re supposed to do in a logical, sensible, efficient fashion. Really, I have good intentions. But then I do things that make me question if I’ll ever use my time wisely.

I know it’s outright absurd to head to Toledo at 3:45 p.m. on a Sunday to go shopping at the mall, especially when you think the mall closes at 5, but I do it anyway. It’s pleasant to discover the mall closes at 6, but it’s such a waste of gas to go that far and spend so little time there, darting from store to store with your daughters. You can’t help but wonder if the purchase of brilliant yellow shoes with silver stripes will lead to buyer’s remorse. Perhaps if we’d had a little more time, they would have seemed a touch too bright and remained on the shelf.

We dash to Target and proceed to Meijer’s, trying to cram as much shopping in before heading home at 8. But first, a pit stop for sweet treats at Beaner’s coffee shop, on, hmm, is it McCord? We find our way to Sylvania Rd. and I direct Rosie to drive west. After some distance, I sense that she is changing lanes. She’s merely moving out of the “right turn only” lane, but I think she’s heading south to Meijer’s.

I look up from the magazine I’m reading, quickly glance around assessing our location, and scream, “No, no! Go right! Turn right here! We want to go to Beaner’s!” But I’m obviously disoriented because when we turn right, Beaner’s is not in sight. We are on the wrong street. Maddy, who had noticed an ice cream parlor before we made the turn, is thrilled. Back when I was yelling “turn right,” she was yelling, “Forget Beaner’s, let’s go there! They have ice cream!”

We find ourselves in the parking lot of Barry’s Bagels and wend our way into the ice cream parlor parking lot. What the heck, it’s not often we can make Maddy happy in the food department. We bound out of the vehicle to discover a great ice cream joint, Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream and Yogurt. Right away, I find the most exciting item on the menu: a Handel’s Pop, a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream on a popcicle stick, dipped in Belgian dark chocolate.

I can’t tell you the history of the place, except that it was started in 1945 by some woman. That’s as far as I got reading from the paper pasted on the side window. It was one of those long, wide paragraphs, like Rosie’s practice AP English tests. Long, single spaced paragraphs just make my eyes glaze over. When I took social science policy classes at MSU’s James Madison College, we had to read original works and they always had just massive paragraphs filled with many big words looped together in a fashion that made you wonder if this really was English you were reading. I’m sure it was really great writing of perhaps great literary worth, but frankly, if  a book doesn’t have a pretty cover, I’m not picking it up unless it comes highly recommended. But, we were eating ice cream...

“This is serendipity, you know,” I say, as the three of us sit on a bench in front of Handel’s, blissfully enjoying our treats.

“We never got to eat there,” Rosie reminds me. Serendipity is the name of an ice cream parlor restaurant in New York City where we almost spent a lot of money, but David refused to wait 40 minutes to get seated.

“No, I meant that we ended up here unexpectedly and it all worked out really well,” I say.

Later, I look up the definition of serendipity (the gift of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for) and have one of those “ah ha!” moments. A new life plan! I shouldn’t seek to be a better person. I should just let the forces of serendipity unfold. Don’t look for it and it will come to you.

It works for ice cream.

    – Nov. 5, 2003 
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