We All Scream

So it was my birthday last week (I got your card; thanks), and at first I didn’t think anything was going to happen, festivity-wise. Once you get past the age of, I don’t know, 5 or so, you should stop expecting people to make a big deal over your birthday. I mean, what are we really celebrating here? That another year has passed and you still haven’t died? So what? Lots of people don’t die.

Anyway, as a grownup, I still enjoy festivities now and then, but I don’t expect them. And besides, living in a grownup world (well, BYU), I’m among people who don’t know when my birthday is, and I hate having to tell them. (It’s so tacky: “Hey, it’s my birthday. Celebrate me!”)

It’s not that I mind people making a fuss. Oh, I love a good fuss. Fusses are great. I just don’t want to be the one coordinating the fuss. Let someone else be the fuss boss; I’ve got things to do.

So anyway, my friend Dave (you don’t know him), who was the only one in my immediate circle of friends who knew when my birthday was, he asked if I wanted to go to Leatherby’s for ice cream that night.

(You know what I get a big kick out of? Calling it “Leatherface’s” instead, because Leatherface was the name of the killer in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and I enjoy the idea of him opening an ice cream restaurant after he settled down from all the murdering and chainsaw-massacring.)

Anyway, I said sure, that would be swell, I would enjoy going to Leatherface’s. A nice simple affair with my pal Dave to quietly celebrate my birthday. Plus, they give you free stuff on your birthday, which I think is something that all businesses should do, not just restaurants. I say if you walk into Eagle Hardware on your birthday, you should get a free hammer or something.

So anyway, we get to Leatherface’s, and it turns out to be a big surprise party for me, with a dozen or so of my friends in attendance. Very nice and thoughtful of Dave, I thought, as I’d never had a surprise party, and I’d never known Dave to be nice or thoughtful. And it was great and all, until it came time to order.

That’s when an odd fact came to light.

Leatherface’s — an ice cream restaurant — doesn’t have chocolate chip ice cream.

How in the name of all that is blessed can an ice cream restaurant not have chocolate chip? I mean, that’s one of your basic ice cream flavors! We’re not talking about weird Ben & Jerry’s concoctions, like Wavy Gravy, or Chinky Minky, or Chumbawamba, or whatever. We’re talking about chocolate chip!

When the place was called Carousel, they had chocolate chip. But then the place changes owners, as do most Provo businesses on a bi-annual basis, they change the name to Leatherface’s, and they do away with chocolate chip ice cream.

Furthermore, our server (or “waitress,” as we used to call them) acted like not having chocolate chip ice cream wasn’t strange. And the truth is, I’ve been there on about four other occasions, asked for chocolate chip, and gotten the same reaction: We don’t have it, and no, we don’t find that particularly odd. What a world of denial these servers live in! I weep for them. But more than that, I weep for myself, not being able to have chocolate chip ice cream.

Furthermore, we learned, they don’t give you free stuff on your birthday unless you call them 24 hours in advance to tell them you’re coming for a birthday celebration. Then they’ll give you balloons and stuff, and sing to you, and give you free ice cream. But without that 24-hour reservation, forget it, Hector.

Yeah, right. Like I’m sure a lot of people are planning their trips to Leatherface’s way in advance. They must have a waiting list a mile long, like those fancy restaurants you hear about where you can only get reservations for a month from now. I’m sure people plan their ice cream occasions very carefully. “Oh, honey,” you’ll hear a wife say to her husband. “Let’s go eat ice cream a week from Tuesday!”

“But do you think we can get in?” replies her husband, his brow furrowed with worry. “We’d better call immediately and try to get reservations.” And he rushes to the phone while his wife silently prays, “Oh, please, let there be an opening for ice cream a week from Tuesday.” And when the reservation is finally made, both husband and wife rejoice together, spinning around together in one another’s arms as they cry, “We’ve been approved for ice cream! Hooray and huzzah!”

My point? It was my birthday last week, and Dave paid for the non-chocolate chip ice cream I ate. Thank you.

Perhaps more than any other column I had written up to this point, I believe you can hear my actual voice in this column -- that is, as you read it, you can hear me speaking it. I made very little attempt to write this in a "writing" style as opposed to a speaking style, because I wanted it to sound like it was just me sitting there, telling you about my birthday.

Friends from this era could tell you that I found great amusement in referring to Leatherby's as Leatherface's. No one else found it funny at all; it was one of the jokes that I kept just for me.