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I Don't Want to be Just Plain Vanilla

     Once upon a time there was a little boy who lived in the state of Ordinary.  He was an average kind of kid who did average kinds of things.  He had an average family who loved him in an average sort of way.  No one was stingy, but no one was extravagant, either. 

     In the summer of his 14th year, a friend invited him to an Ice Cream Parlor.  It was his first experience in a place that had ice cream.  He never forgot the first time he tasted the cold, sweet cream.  The soft white cloud of sweetness floated down his throat and thrilled his heart like nothing he had ever eaten before.  It was refreshing and at the same time, he wanted more.  He soon became a regular at the Ice Cream Parlor.  Before long, his whole family joined him each week for a regular dish of vanilla ice cream.  It was always vanilla because that is all the ice cream parlor had… lots and lots of vanilla.

     Soon the boy realized that there were places that had ice cream all over  town.  There was the Ice Cream Parlor he and his family enjoyed each week.  There was also an Ice Cream Creamery.   Another place was called Cold Stuff, which tried to appeal to the younger crowd.  They used fluorescent cups but it was still just the same vanilla ice cream.  There was also Vanilla Assembly.  He laughed to himself as he passed First Vanilla Center each day on the way to school because he reasoned they must think that they were the first to ever serve ice cream.  He felt sorry for Second Cream Creations because they apparently thought themselves a little less than the guys at First Vanilla Center.

     He and his family remained loyal to the Ice Cream Parlor where they were first introduced to ice cream.  He had no desire to try other establishments – it was all the same ice cream.  He had learned early on that the Ice Cream Maker lived in the country of Extraordinary – a place the boy had never visited.  In fact, he was content not to think about it too much.  He didn’t really care how the ice cream was made or how it got delivered or how many people all over the world were eating it.  Sometimes he noticed that his parents would give a little money to help send ice cream to a place that had never had it before.  Sometimes he would ask friends to join him at the Ice Cream Parlor and sometimes they would and sometimes they were too busy.  The boy didn’t seem to mind either way.  He liked the ice cream and if others wanted some they could find it on their own.  All that mattered to the boy was that he had the ice cream and he was content with vanilla.

     As the boy grew up and became a man, he met a woman.  While he liked her from the start, he was also a little afraid of her.  She wasn’t like most of the people he had met in Ordinary.  She was at peace with herself and yet she wasn’t content with average.  It was a combination of conflicting feelings that made him dizzy.  For instance, it really seemed to bother her that there were people not only in the world, but in their state of Ordinary who had yet to taste ice cream.  The man knew that to be true, but it wasn’t his problem.  The woman, however, was always thinking of ways to give ice cream to others.  She was passionate about this and that was both intriguing and scary – intriguing because the man had never once thought about other people as needing him for anything and scary because of what it might  mean in his life.  He remembered he was just an average man with average expectations.  She, on the other hand, was not average.  “It’s just weird," he thought.

     As strange as all of this seemed to him, he continued to see her.  One day after they had eaten an average dinner of chicken and potatoes, she told him the most shocking thing he had ever heard.  She confided in him that she had eaten strawberry ice cream.  In fact, she told him that she ate in frequently.   At first the man just stared at her in disbelief.  No one, he said, puts fruit of all things in ice cream.  It’s blasphemy.  The Ice Cream maker must be appalled.   A gentle smile broke out across her face and a warm glow seemed to radiate from her being as she sweetly said, “He’s the one who gave it to me.”  Startled, the man jumped up from the table.  It can’t be. “ Vanilla!” He shouted.  All ice cream is to be vanilla.  Every average person knows that.  Was this woman involved in some sort of dairy cult?  Was this ice cream heresy?

     He decided not to see her for a while, but he couldn’t get her off his mind.  Or maybe it was the idea of strawberry ice cream that he couldn’t get off his mind.  Was there really more to life than vanilla?  Once the woman had eaten the strawberry ice cream, she seemed to have an inner strength, a concern for others, and a passion he didn’t have. On his way to work one morning, he passed a man with dirty, torn clothes holding his head down in shame.  

     He had never seen this man before, but today the vision of this man, probably out of work and homeless, burned in his mind as the hours passed.  Then out of nowhere, the thought crossed his mind, “This man could really use a bowl of ice cream.”  The thought scared the man because it was so unlike him to think this way.  How was he going to give this man ice cream?  That wasn’t his job…or was it?  That woman had ruined him.  He was content to be average, to be vanilla and now this comfortable life was being challenged.  On the way home, he saw some kids looking for trouble.  Again, the thought popped right into his head, “These kids need some ice cream.”  ARGH!  “What’s become of me,” the man thought.

     Days passed and everywhere he went, he saw people in ways he had never seen them before.  Hurting, lonely, hungry, depressed, angry, sick, and blind.  The man knew what he had to do…find the woman.  He gave her a call and they agreed to meet the next day.  He had to find out about the strawberry ice cream.  Was there possibly a world beyond Ordinary?  Did the Ice Cream Maker have more flavors than vanilla?  Were these flavors for everyone? 

     At lunch the next day, the woman, sensing the man to be open to truth, began to tell him more than he ever imagined possible.  Between the state of Ordinary and the country of Extraordinary was a land called Supernatural.  Anyone could visit if they wanted.  In fact, the woman had been there several times.  Once you go, though, you are changed forever.  In the land of Supernatural, there are places where you can eat a buffet of ice cream.  There are flavors so delicious you won’t want to stop eating.  Vanilla is still the main flavor, the woman shared with such delight and excitement, but you can add so many different toppings… like cookie pieces, and chocolate chips, and nuts!  The man’s head was swimming.  How could this be?  The woman explained that the One and Only Ice Cream Maker from the country of Extraordinary had come to the land of Supernatural and filled it with good things to eat.  He had made vanilla, but he never intended people to eat only vanilla.  He had so much more in mind when he created ice cream. Then, it slowly dawned on the man that what he had seen from the woman was not just a mixture of peace and discontentment for the ordinary.  It was love.  She loved the Ice Cream Maker.  He could tell by the tender way she spoke about Him.  He also knew that the Ice Cream Maker loved her.  That’s why she wanted all that He had ever made… flavors, add-ins, and rich gooey toppings.

     That night, alone in his little ordinary house, the man knelt down beside his bed and talked to the Ice Cream Maker in a way he had never done before.  He was rather surprised how easy it was to talk to the Ice Cream Maker outside of the Ice Cream Parlor.  As the man talked, tears ran down his face as he recounted all the years he had been vanilla and how he had thought anything more to be wrong.  That night he asked the Ice Cream Maker to give him flavors he had not yet experienced; He asked for every add-in that existed and every delicious topping.  All he knew was that he wanted more…. He needed more…There was a world out there who needed the man to have more so that what he had would spill over to them.   “With your help, Ice Cream Maker, I will never be vanilla again.”

Copyright © 2008-2015 Dana Cavallaro

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