Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Ice Cream for the Whole Family

I had another "only in Japan" experience tonight. I went to Deo Deo, which is kind of like Sears, after work to pick up some dryer filters (which are such a rip off at Y2,100, but anyway). After that I ran into You Me Town to get some pens and chapstick, and I stopped at Baskin Robins on the way out. I ordered a cup of ice cream with two scoops, and I decided on the regular size scoop, which is just larger than a golf ball. I could have gone for small, which is microscopic, or king, which is smaller than an American-sized scoop, but I settled on regular. The BR girl asked me the usual, "For here, to go?" question, and I said "To go, please" (onegaishimasu).

This is when it got strange. BR girl suddenly disappears and then reappears with large gloves on her hands. She looked nervous, and I thought next she might get her coat on and come sit in the passenger seat of my car and deliver the ice cream right to my freezer. Instead she took out a little hammer and broke off a chunk of dry ice from a large piece to place in the bag. I'd forgotten about this. Anytime you order something that needs to be refrigerated or frozen, and you ask for it to go, the Japanese either put a tiny ice pack the size of your thumb next to the item in the bag, or they pack pieces of dry ice around it. Generally the clerk will show you a little chart that says, "0 to 30 min" "30 to 60 min" and "60+ min" and you are supposed to point to how long your drive home is. That determines how much dry ice you'll need to keep the item frosty for the entire trip. I wanted to tell her that I didn't think the ice cream would make it to the stop sign, but I just let it go. Mai pen lai, as the Thai say.

So then I'm driving home and I reach into the bag for the treat. Remember that it's two tiny scoops of ice cream in one tiny dish. And there is not one, not two, not three, but four spoons in the bag. Was I that transparent? Clearly I was buying two tiny scoops of ice cream for my family of four. Is it really inconceivable that one person would want that much ice cream? I'm really going to miss the insults.

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