It was a caterpillar scheme—a dream of fabulous escape—that had ultimately prompted my ascension from the leather chair in which I sat in my home sanctuary on the sixth day of the eighth month. I, bleary-eyed and poorly shaved in derby hat and big pinstriped trousers leftover from the movie which might have resulted from a collaboration between director Busby Berkley and Emilio Estevez circa Young Guns 2, yearned for a root beer float.

I wandered into the kitchen where the walls were covered in gleaming alabaster monochromatic tile and the countertops coated with black enamel. The parquetry of the kitchen floor was dizzying and mathematical. Here, I encountered the cupboard. Apart from three martini glasses, a fourth brethren glass long ago shattered at the hands of an inebriated guest; a set of coffee cups misappropriated from a diner back east and mottled by years of coffee consumption and my wife’s rubicund lipstick; a set of highball glasses I embezzled from the Stork Club; and a panoply of plastic cups aggregated and stockpiled by my progeny on visits to amusement parks and far-flung eateries to which we had once tarried on summer sojourns, the cupboard was almost bare. I did locate, due in large measure to my steadfastness though due in some measure to serendipity, a mug.

I seized the mug and held it between the first fingers of my left hand. It was a glass mug, besmirched by decades of frivolity and mirth. I yearned for frost on the glass mug. I thought about ways I might accomplish this and determined that I should put it in the freezer. I rinsed the mug with water and opened the Frigidaire door. A selvage of pale gray-blue radiation from the freezer’s lightbulb, affixed to its zenith, fringed the freezer door and mingled with the pale shaft of sunlight from the kitchen window. I encountered a gust of chilly air which brought with it an odor of stale ice cubes, frozen lasagna delivered by a neighbor during a domestic cataclysm which so warranted such a delivery, bags of unground coffee and something sweet and somehow nostalgic. I placed the mug in the freezer.

I waited twenty to thirty minutes. My wristwatch, a Timex analog stained and weathered like a taxidermist’s leathery apron, ticked against my arm with the mellifluous sound of exactitude. I opened the freezer and removed the now-frosty mug gingerly, like a cook testing a pot of hot water with his calloused pinky, and placed it on the black enamel countertop.

I returned to the freezer and rummaged through the frozen chicken breasts enshrouded in cellophane and Styrofoam and the ice cubes which shone like brand new nickels. Cold air burned my cheeks. I located, on the top shelf of the Frigidaire underneath a bag of frozen peas which, when I shifted them, palpitated with a certain languor not unlike a lady fanning herself, a quart of vanilla ice-cream.

I opened a drawer adjacent to the freezer, revealing odd bits of apparatus—a meat thermometer, whisks of various sizes, tools specifically designed to defile specific fruits and vegetables like a lemon zester and an apple corer and a cherry pit remover, bottle openers of every size, a can opener that was not showing the early stages of oxidation, a potato masher that looked like the feudal weaponry of foot soldiers in the Middle Ages and likely could have been had their battle axe, mace or crossbow failed them—that had survived years of domesticity, and removed an ice cream scooper. With the precision of a casino dealer cutting a deck of cards, I scooped two large scoops of vanilla ice cream and put them into the frosty mug. The scoops of ice cream glissaded down the sides of the mug—both pensive and determined – like a sensuous corpulent albino snail slithering towards a savory decomposing cucumber.

I returned to the Frigidaire and removed a can of A&W root beer. I opened the can, the cacophony of the release of the carbonation reverberated through the kitchen. I poured the root beer slowly, with the overdetermination of a dream. I poured it at an angle to reduce the efflorescent fizz. Nevertheless, the fizz materialized, and its rumble grew louder and somehow smoother as it cascaded over the ice cream. Eventually, the hiss of the fizz modulated to a soft hum. The fizz settled, its sweet light froth on top of a dense dark bottom of black, and, its metamorphosis complete, I added more root beer to the mixture and watched its transformation from deliquescent fluid to effervescent sibilation.

Once the frosty mug was full, I topped it with whipped and agitated cream—agitated like a hiker lost in the Himalayas because his cousin gave him the wrong map or a man in line in the express lane of a grocery store behind someone with way more than the allotted items—to achieve maximum flocculence. On this particular summer afternoon, only the prospect of another solitary afternoon—and this root beer float—lie before me.

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