Tag Archives: Ice

My friend Hassan has this ice cube that never melts

My friend Hassan is a really cool guy, but there’s always been something a little weird about him, not in a bad way, just kind of off. I’m sounding like a jerk now, because really, I guess there’s something a little weird about everybody. I know I get more than a little weird, like about sharing food, or trying to make everything into a race.


But Hassan, I guess if I had to try to define what makes him a little weird, and again, it really is just a little bit weird, like I still love hanging out with him and everything, but yeah, I’d say that he’s a little defensive. Maybe not defensive, but secretive. Not secretive exactly, not about everything, but just a little secretive, like he’s got a little secret, and he’s constantly on the defense that somebody might find it out.

And that’s exactly what it turned out to be, a little secret, and I found it out. He has a really hi-tech ice cube. It looks like a regular ice cube, exactly like a regular ice cube, but this one never melts. That’s crazy right? It doesn’t make any sense. But that’s how it works, Hassan puts this ice cube into a warm drink, a room temperature drink, whatever, and it acts just like a regular ice cube, that is, it slowly makes the drink colder. But it doesn’t ever melt, not even a little bit. And eventually the drink gets ice cold, and then he drinks his drink and takes the ice cube out of the cup at the end.

That’s how I figured it out, finally. One time we were all at McDonald’s, everyone had his or her own tray, of course I made lunch into a race, that’s because, like I already said, it’s one of my character defects, I turn everything into a race, and even though nobody else was racing, I made a big show of standing up first to bring my tray to the garbage.

“And let me help you out there, Hassan,” I said as I made a move for Hassan’s tray. There was still food on it. I wasn’t actually going to take it. That was going to be the joke, like I’d attempt to pick up the tray, he’d act surprised, and then I’d say something like, “What? You’re still eating? Oh man, my bad Hassan, I forget that not everybody eats as fast as I do.”

Only, I didn’t have the chance to go through my whole routine, because right as I picked up his tray, his mostly empty soda cup tipped, falling over the side. Before it hit the ground, Hassan made a really dramatic jump out of his chair, “My ice cube!” he shouted out a little too loudly as he dove to the ground.

I thought to myself, ice cube? “Hassan, what are you talking about?” I started peppering him with questions as he picked up a lone ice cube that had fallen out of the cup.

“Nothing. Leave me alone,” he got up and marched to the bathroom. But I knew something was up, and so I followed him in. Not right away, of course, but after like fifteen seconds. And there he was, Hassan, at the bathroom sink, holding this ice cube under the faucet, almost like he was washing it off.

“Hassan, I just came in to apologize,” I said as a means of explaining why I’d followed him into the bathroom. But now that I was in, I couldn’t contain my curiosity, “Why are you washing that ice cube?”

And remember how I was saying earlier that Hassan was just slightly secretive and defensive? Well now he was really secretive and defensive. “Mind your own business! Leave me alone!” he was almost screaming. And then he pushed me out of the way and ran out of the bathroom. I followed him out, but now he was sprinting, into the parking lot, into his car, and he was off.

So the next day I stopped by his place, again, I had one of these starter, “Hey man, sorry about yesterday,” questions to kind of make it look like I was trying to be a nice guy. But then it was right back to the ice cube questions. “What was the deal with that ice cube? Why did you dive out of the seat so dramatically? What were you trying to do washing it off in the sink?”

And maybe he realized that I was just never going to let this go, and so he told me to come inside.

“Listen Rob,” he sat me down, “I need you to promise me that you’ll never tell anybody about this. Ever.”

And I said, “Never tell anybody about what?”

“I can’t tell you until you promise.”

“Well I can’t promise until you tell me. What if it turns out to be something that I’m morally obligated not to keep to myself?”

“It’s not, trust me.”

“I do trust you. But I can’t make that promise.”

“Then I can’t tell you.”

“Well then I’m just going to keep asking you questions. I already know that you have a crazy secret that you’re at least considering telling me. You might as well tell me. I can’t promise I won’t tell, but as long as it’s nothing insane, or evil or whatever, I’m pretty sure that I won’t have a big deal making that promise afterward.”

And he thought about it for a minute, and then he said, “OK, fine.” And then he opened up his hand, and inside he had this ice cube.

“Another ice cube?” I asked him.

“No,” he put the ice cube in my hand. “It’s the same ice cube.”

“The same ice cube, but that’s impossible.”

“It’s not impossible. Don’t you feel it yet?”

And yeah, I’d been holding it for like thirty seconds so far, and there was no wet sensation. It was definitely ice cold, but so far this thing hadn’t started to melt.

“No fucking way,” I said as I instinctively moved to put it in my mouth.

“What are you doing? What the hell man?” Hassan snatched the ice cube out of my hand before I actually put it in.

“Sorry, I don’t know why I did that. I just thought … well, have you ever put it in your mouth? Does it melt? Does it feel good? Where did you get it from? Can I have one too?”

And I could see this look in Hassan’s face, like he was watching the start of what could only be the tip of an iceberg of questions, like shit, I shouldn’t have told him, he’s never going to leave me alone with this.

Finally, he started speaking, “No, you can’t have one. As far as I know, this is only one that exists. My grandfather was a great scientist. He worked at some secret military lab that focused almost entirely on experimental research and development. Maybe he wasn’t allowed to, but he never talked to my father about his work. And then one day he brought home this ice cube. He gave it to my father like it was a toy, like here you go son, enjoy this magical ice cube for a while.”

“So if you break a piece of it off, will it …?”

“Rob, hold on, I’m not done yet. So my father didn’t know what to make of it. What was he supposed to do with it? His father gave him the ice cube, and then his mother, my grandmother, called to my grandfather from the kitchen, she was cooking dinner, and she was out of milk, and she needed it now, and so my grandfather said, ‘OK honey,’ and he looked at my father and said, ‘Now just hold on to that ice cube for a minute, and I’ll take it back when I’m home. Just be careful with it, OK?’”

“So is it made out of water? Like, if you drop it into a glass of water and then put that glass in the freezer, and then you melt that frozen glass, will the whole thing be frozen, or will only the outside part …?”

“Come on man, just stay with me for a second here. So my grandfather goes out to do this errand, but on his way to the grocery store, he’s in a terrible accident. A truck lost control and barreled right into my grandfather’s car, killing him instantly. They went through all of the arrangements, the funeral, everything. After he was in the ground, my grandmother sold the house and moved back to Queens to be closer to her family.”

“And your dad still had the ice cube?”

“That’s exactly it. My dad still had the ice cube. And right before he died, he gave it to me.”

“So you never figured out where it came from? Nobody from that military lab every came around looking for it?”

“Never. He never knew what to make of it. He was an accountant. And I don’t know anything about science either. So I don’t know, I just keep it with me, I use it to keep my drinks cold. I figure I might as well use it. But it’s like a secret family heirloom. I just can’t believe that you knocked over that cup. I’ve kept this thing hidden for ten years now, and it’s ruined. So what do you say, do you promise not to tell anybody?”

“Well, I don’t know. Have you ever tried that thing I was telling you about before? Dropping it into a glass of water and then freezing the glass and then letting it melt?”

“No, I’ve never done that Rob.”

“Well, aren’t you curious to see what would happen?”

“I’m really not, actually, I’m just a little protective of it. Could we not?”

“Look, if you want me to promise, just do this one little experiment.”

“And then you’ll promise?”

“Yeah, but only if, if the whole cup of ice winds up turning into that super ice, you have to give me a little piece.”

“OK, fine.”

So we did it, we put the ice into a glass of water, we put that glass into the freezer, and we waited a couple of hours. When we came back, the whole glass was now frozen, so we took it out and left it on the counter to see if it would melt.

And yeah, right away a little puddle started forming underneath, so obviously the water was melting. I was a little disappointed, obviously, I had already started making plans of what I was going to do with my share of the ice. I was definitely going to make more ice, and then maybe I’d start selling some, I don’t know, I hadn’t thought it through that far, but I definitely knew that I was going to want to do more with it than just carry it around and use it on McDonald’s fountain soda.

But then Hassan started freaking out. He held the block of ice under the warm water tap in the kitchen, I guess he was a little anxious to get his precious one-of-a-kind cube back. Only, when he got to the middle, to where his cube was supposed to be, there was nothing. The whole thing just kept melting, until it was all gone, just water, no ice cube.

“What the hell Rob? It’s gone! It melted! What the fuck?”
And yeah, I felt really bad there, Hassan looked like he was going to cry. I didn’t know what to say. So I just told him, “OK Hassan, I’m really, really sorry. And yeah, I promise I’ll never tell anybody about your grandfather’s ice cube. Not a soul. I promise.”

Hopefully they left a decent tip

The other day I was at work waiting tables. Even though none of the servers pool tips, we still have a system in place where we rely heavily on each other’s support. One aspect of this codependency involves greeting the customers that have just sat down. Officially, it’s supposed to be within thirty seconds, the party gets sat, and the nearest available waiter or waitress has to do the whole, “Hi! How’s it going? Can I get you something to drink?”


It’s a good system, because you can’t be everywhere at once, and it’s nice to know that if you get stuck in the back wrapping up a bunch of doggy bags, for example, that the rest of your customers aren’t going to be left out to hang, waiting for someone to show up, slowly steaming, thinking all the while of how somebody is going to pay for this, it’s going to be the server, it’s going to be reflected in the tip.

But it goes both ways. Every once in a while you ask if they’d like to start out with a drink and you get ambushed by a, “We’re actually in a rush, we’ll give you everything right now, we’re ready, we’re really hungry.” And then you’re committed, you can’t be like, “Well, you see, I’m only here for the drink order …” people hate that nonsense, going to a restaurant, trying to figure out who does what. It makes sense that I just take over, do what I can, try to help out wherever possible.

Like I said, I found myself in this situation the other day, an older couple, they were definitely from out of town, they were hungry, and in a rush, so they gave me everything. Fine. I took their order, I went to put everything in the computer, and then I proceeded to get the drinks ready. The man wanted a Coke, and the lady wanted and iced tea, “With lots of ice, and extra lemon.”

Our restaurant has these sixteen ounce glasses, and our ice machine spits out ice in giant chunks. The glasses can only really hold five ice cubes, but this lady said extra, and I wanted her to see that I was paying attention, and so I kind of put a sixth one on top and then softly hammered the whole thing in with the back of the ice scoop.

I approached the table with the plate of extra lemons balanced on my forearm, and just as I set down that glass of iced tea in front of that lady, she says to me, “Didn’t I tell you that I wanted a lot of ice?”

And my job is not to give people attitude or anything like that. Even if it was, this wasn’t my table, we don’t share gratuity, and so this wasn’t even my money on the line. Really, all I had to do was drop these drinks off and that would have been the end of my interaction with this man and woman. But I couldn’t process this lady’s question to me, even though it wasn’t a question, it was just a little dart of sentence flung into my neck with a decorative question mark dangling at the end.

I didn’t have time to smile and be professional. I shot back, “More ice? There are six giant ice cubes in that cup. That’s the most ice that can fit in that glass.” And she looked a little shocked, I was a little shocked, I mean, she was definitely pushing buttons, but rarely in the service industry does button pushing actually result in a server pushing back. That’s not allowed.

I realized my mistake. Even though the ice was just as she asked, again, it’s not my job to push back, it’s my job to take all of that bullshit and smile. And like I said before, this wasn’t even my tip on the line, so now I not only started to worry about a rudeness complaint possibly heading my way, but I began to feel bad that I was negatively impacting the amount of money that wasn’t even going into my pocket.

Maybe half a second passed before I abruptly changed my entire demeanor. I put on the most sincere smile I could manage, I said to her, “But I’m happy to get you some more ice. I’ll be right back.” And I raced back to the kitchen, hoping that I could get this lady some more ice before she even had a minute to think about what I’d said and how the whole situation could have been handled differently.

Thirty seconds later, I had two more cups filled with ice, another twelve oversized ice cubes, in front of her. I finished our interaction with another ridiculously sincere smile, and then I disappeared, hoping that all would have been forgiven, that maybe they wouldn’t have even noticed my micro-outburst, those two or three seconds where I forgot my place, where I was, who I was talking to. Hopefully they left a decent tip.

Workplace diplomacy

You have no idea what kind of lunatics I have to deal with at work. The other day Maggie, one of my coworkers, she comes busting into my office, she’s like, “Rob, you know, if you’re not going to make any ice cubes, it’d be nice if you didn’t use them all. OK? Because now there’s no ice. So thanks a lot.”


And yeah, I did take all of the ice cubes, but just the way she came at me, like no knocking, and no, I wasn’t on the phone or anything, but I was in the middle of reading something, I was on the Internet. And she’s all like yelling and pointing, she’s holding a can of Diet Coke in one hand and an empty glass in the other, like look Rob, Diet Coke, glass, no ice. Thanks a lot.

Sure, I could have been a little more diplomatic about everything, right, I told HR that I’d do my best to handle office situations like this a little bit more diplomatically, that’s what the letter that they made me sign said, I just remember that word, diplomatically, like I’m an office diplomat. But I lost it, I said, “Maggie, what the hell’s your problem?” and she kind of smiled, because yeah, I came out swinging, I said “hell” which isn’t very diplomatic, and so I could just tell she was already filling out the official complaint in her head, “And he was cursing,” and then I’d have to write out my own counter-complain, explaining how technically “hell” isn’t a curse, even though, yes, it is all about context, and no, I shouldn’t have said that.

But I was already knee deep in, and so I pushed ahead. “One, what are you, in charge of the ice?” And she was like, “Yeah, I filled up the ice tray this morning. Now there’s none left.” At this point she pointed to my desk. I had a huge glass of ice, which, whatever, yes, I used all of the ice. And this I admitted, albeit not very diplomatically.

“I’m sorry,” I told Maggie, “I didn’t know it was your ice. I thought it was the office’s ice. OK, and I filled up the tray with water after I was done. Why don’t you just come back in a couple of hours and you’ll have all the ice you want?” and she shot right back, “Well how about next time, you save some ice for the rest of us, especially considering you weren’t the one who filled it up this morning, I did, because I was planning on having an ice cold Diet Coke right about now. And now I can’t. Because you took all of the goddamn ice.”

Now I smiled back, I was already mentally adding on my future report to HR, that not only is “hell” not a curse, but if it is, then maybe you should talk to Maggie about cursing, because she told me “goddamn.” “Maggie, where’d you get that Diet Coke, from the office kitchen?”

“Yeah? So?” she said. “Well, it’s from the fridge right? It’s still cold. I don’t understand what you’re complaining about. Why don’t you just chill the f out …” shit, I shouldn’t have said f. Even though I didn’t say “fuck,” I only said f. There’s a lot of room for her to make it look like I said “fuck” and this was potentially a problem, because I could just see my response to HR, in my head, there was no way of phrasing a defense without writing out, “f,” or even, “fuck,” no, just “f.” Still. That was sloppy.

She smiled, “Well you know what? I filled up the ice. OK? And who are you to talk about ice cold soda? You’re telling me to drink it from the can, but you’ve got an ice cold Coke right next to a glass of ice. Don’t you think that’s maybe a little hypocritical?”

It’s true, I was using a full glass for my own refrigerated Coke. I like pouring just a sip, and then I drink it, and then another. Each drop perfectly chilled without being diluted. But I was on the ropes now, I didn’t have time for any concessions. “Look, it’s ice OK? It doesn’t matter who fills it up, and even though I’m grateful that you replenished the tray …”

“Bullshit you’re grateful.”

Bingo. I continued, “Even though I’m grateful, I didn’t think I had to ask everybody in the office if I could take some ice. Do you go around asking people who replaced the toilet paper in the bathroom? Huh? You want to get into that time I saw you not refill paper tray two on the annex printer with fresh paper? Remember that?”

And Maggie just looked at me, I was smiling, we were even for curses, and she said, “You know what Rob? Go fuck yourself, asshole.” And she stormed out.

I thought, ha, talk about a win. And I’d be the bigger person here. I had the cold drink. I didn’t see the need to involve HR.

But then ten minutes later I thought, you know what? Fuck Maggie. And I opened a new Word document and told HR all about how Maggie stormed into my office and told me to go fuck myself. I hope she gets fired.

Snow shoveling, soon

A couple of weeks ago we got a pretty big snowstorm, big for New York anyway. I’m sure the people of Manitoba or Vladivostok have different definitions of pretty big snowstorms, but this was enough that I had to go down to the basement and find the old snow shovel. So yeah, it was snowing, the snow was accumulating, there was a lull, and I went out to dig. And then a few hours later it picked up again, I had to go out again a few hours later, I sprinkled some salt, and I called it a night.snowshove

And then the next day it was this gross, warm rain, everything sort of melted, but not really, the whole city turned into this charcoal gray slush pit. The next day while I was at work, apparently there were a couple more inches of snow still floating around in the clouds, and that eventually made its way to the sidewalk. Then the temperature dropped.

It was so cold that, by the time I made my way home from work at like two in the morning, there was a giant lumpy sheet of ice covering the sidewalk in front of my house. I immediately recognized my civic duty, to at least try to clean this stuff up so that no pedestrians would take a tumble in front of the property, but I was tired, I said to myself, I can do this tomorrow. Besides, I pulled out all of these rationalizations, how I’d already shoveled the day before, twice, how all of that shoveling proved to be a huge waste of time, seeing as how the rain melted everything not even twelve hours later.

I left it. And the next day was even colder, so I left it again. A few of my neighbors had left theirs, I figured, all right, as long as I’m not the only one, whatever, I’ll get to it soon. Which, and at this point in my life, I’m even more than halfway conscious of the fact that whenever I say that I’ll do something soon, it really means that I’ll never do it.

When I got home from work that night, I found that it was just me and this Greek guy next door that were the last two houses on the block that hadn’t even made an attempt to clear out a path. But it was still so cold, I told myself, even if I wanted to shovel right now, I wouldn’t be able to. It was pure ice. I made a plan to do it tomorrow, as soon as the sun was out, maybe there would be a little melting to make everything easier.

And it was significantly warmer the next day. Unfortunately I got up pretty late, late enough that the Department of Sanitation had time to write out tickets for both my neighbor and me. It basically amounted to, you guys didn’t even try to clean up the sidewalk, so pay up, a hundred bucks.

All I could think about was the hundred dollars that my grandfather had just given me for Christmas. Come on, it’s like why does the universe always have to take away just as easily as it dishes out? I had plans for that hundred bucks. Well, not any concrete plans, really. But I did plan on keeping it in my pocket for as long as possible, trying to hold off on spending it until I had no other money left in there, and then I’d break it and I’d use it guilt-free on all sorts of little purchases until there was nothing left.

So I made up my mind to actually attend the hearing and mount a defense. They’ll let me off, I thought in my head as I stood before the city official in charge of hearing these cases, “Come on,” I told the guy, “I’m really sorry. I work nights. It was so cold. This is my first offense. I definitely won’t wait next time.” Halfway through I realized that I probably should have planned out my defense a little better, none of whatever I was saying sounded any better than a little kid trying to weasel his way into explaining to the teacher why he didn’t do his homework the night before. By the time I caught myself about to use my grandfather’s hundred dollar gift as an excuse, I gave up. But not before saying, “The defense rests.” I thought it would be funny, but nobody laughed, and I immediately felt like an idiot.

“Sorry pal,” the guy told me, “Better get up earlier next time.” And that was it. A hundred bucks for Christmas, a hundred bucks to the city for not shoveling my sidewalk. And I’m stuck here thinking, wondering if only I had made up a really good sounding excuse, like if I pretended to have the flu, or if I just left out that idiotic joke at the end, maybe I could have gotten out of it. Whatever, I’m going to buy a ton of rock salt and I’m just going to blanket that stuff outside at the first hint of snow. I’m not even going to let that stuff have a chance to accumulate. That’s what I’m going to do, soon, I’m going to go to the Home Depot and get a better shovel, one with an ice pick on the other side. Definitely soon.

I like it ice cold

I want my ice cream cold, so cold that my tongue shouldn’t even be able to touch it, not safely. I want you to have to take it out of the deep-freeze freezer, you’ll actually have to put it in the microwave just to take it down a bit, just a couple of degrees, to where it’s still way too cold to touch, I still can’t lick it, I’d still get a major ice-burn on my tongue if I attempted premature contact.

And then I want the spoon to be warmed up, not in a microwave, obviously, you can’t put metal in the microwave. Maybe I could find some sort of a composite spoon? All right, give me a spoon made out of the same material they make hockey sticks and golf clubs. I want it to be light, like ultra lightweight, so now OK, you can go ahead and throw it in the microwave for a minute or two.

If you haven’t already, you should go ahead and buy two microwaves, because I don’t want to wait around while you’re messing with different power level settings for the ice cream and for the spoon. I want them both to be warming up at the same exact time.

All of my soda has to be ice cold too. Also, the carbonation has to be really powerful. But more importantly, really, really cold. But only slightly less important, the carbonation. Don’t talk to me about freezing points, I want a colder-than-ice Coca-Cola that somehow hasn’t turned into a block of ice. I’ve seen it done before, it was science class in high school, or a science TV show that the science teacher showed us on one of those days where she didn’t feel like teaching, it was something about not disturbing the liquid, or putting something inside of it, and it’ll stay liquid.

You know that sensation you get when you first take a sip of a really ice cold drink? Like you can feel it working its way down your esophagus? I want that with every sip, not just the first. And I don’t want to feel it just in my esophagus, I want to feel it all the way down, snaking its way through my intestines, that refreshing feeling chilling a path throughout my whole digestive system.

My soup also has to be really cold. I don’t care what time of year you’re supposed to traditionally eat gazpacho, I’d like it in January, February, if there’s an unseasonably cold stretch through March or April, I’m going to order gazpacho then also, along with other summertime soups, watermelon bisque … I can’t think of any other cold soups, but I know they’re out there, and again, ice cold, I want you to serve me a whole tube of Sensodyne as an appetizer, something to really numb up my gums, I want to hold a big mouthful and really let my whole head cool off.

Iced coffee, iced tea, ice, ice cold. And don’t bother with the regular ice cubes. I want ice cubes made out of iced coffee and iced tea. It has to be cold brewed, by the way. I don’t want anything that’s ever been heated up. I mean, yes, to some extent, I’m always going to have to acknowledge the fact that the earth was formed out of a ball of cooling molten rock, but that’s just it, it’s cooling, it’s getting there.

My favorite planet is Pluto. My favorite sport is ice hockey. If I got to choose a superpower, it would definitely be ice powers. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about talking about any of this nonsense. Give me a hot soup, go ahead, I’ll ice you dead in your tracks, that hot soup’s never going to make it over to my table. And then next idiot server who even thinks about sending over another bowl, he’s going to think again. He’s going to bring me the coldest one they’ve got. And then – zap! – ice powers to make it even colder, and I’ll be able to take it, no frost-burn, no Sensodyne, just straight up cold, colder than all of the Coors Light in the Rockies.

Because seriously, I can’t emphasize enough, I really like my stuff cold. Make sure you tell the chef, because I’ve got a thermometer right here. I’m going to use it, and I’m going to send it back. It’s all just a matter of how many times I’m going to send it back. Got it?