For most people, it would have been, “Try this ice cream that I think is bomb” and that would have been the end of it. But not if my dad was the one bestowing ice cream with explosive superlatives. Janna and I had stopped by my parent’s house one night in 2000, probably because I needed to panhandle, and we got stuck in my dad’s garage while he told us his saga regarding Reinhold’s Caramel Caribou, some goddamn ice cream that he was inexplicably obsessed with, wanted to marry, was ordered to stay within 500 feet of, is currently getting its name lasered off his bicep.
I refer to it as solely my dad’s garage because this story is set during the awkward time between my parent’s separation and subsequent divorce, so my dad was essentially living in the detached garage. Don’t worry—he was fine. He had a jukebox, a TV, a couch and a vintage Pepsi machine full of bottled beer. He was just fine.
So this ice cream, Janna and I had never heard of it because we were going through that stage where all we did was basically drink and eat food that could be ordered via telephone, and as far as we knew, there was no Mike’s Hard Ice Cream and the local pizza joints seemed like they were sticking with “just cannoli” as their takeout dessert option. This just made my dad even more excited to tell us about his newfound freezer aisle romance. We were all prepared for him to just give us a goddamn bowl of it, but first we had to listen to A Story.
I guess my dad had fallen in love with Caramel Caribou at first spoonful, and this is the part where we assume it was made from the milk of a crack-addled cow. Too bad for my dad, but going back for seconds was about to get challenging. He told us about all the time he spent looking at the grocery stores, but there was nary a carton of Caribou to be found. God only knows where he ate his first bowl of it. Some black market creamery in Chinatown? What the fuck.
“And then one day a Reinhold’s delivery truck drove past me,” my dad said, getting all excited and I think probably losing sight of how grand of an audience he actually had. I mean, come on, Guy. Janna and I were in a hurry. “So I pulled a U-ey and followed him.”
Like you do when you’re feenin’.
He followed him a few miles down the road until the truck pulled into a school parking lot, at which my point my dad waited for the driver to exit the truck before veritably accosting him for a hookup. (Trust me, I know my dad. I can only imagine the fervor he laid out during this encounter. I equal-parts wish I had been there & am grateful for not being there.)
Now I wasn’t there for the verbatim exchange, but I’ve always believed it for sure went something like this: “Hey palsie, ya gots any of that sweet ass Caramel Caribou back there?” In hushed tones. With my dad shaking him by the collar of his work shirt. Like it’s some kind of new marijuana blend that is eventually going to be the subject of a future Degrassi episode.
Reinhold’s Driver indulges him, but he does not in fact have any on his truck, or on his person, but offers to check the warehouse when he gets back. So they exchange numbers, like you do when you’re stalking someone for ice cream.
And a little while later, the guy actually fucking called my dad. He sounds like a really great guy, but I’m wondering if there was any sort of cash handoff.
I guess the guy’s boss was all, “You can’t sell products from our warehouse to a street-person, fuck off.” So the driver instead gave my dad a list of where he could MAYBE find certain ice creams named after reindeer by total ACCIDENT and not because some Reinhold delivery driver SNITCHED.
Eventually, my dad bought some multi-gallon jug reserved for ice cream parlors and single broads on Valentine’s Day and was finally able to celebrate his Caribou love in the privacy of his own home (garage).
After enduring his story, he served Janna and me each a bowl of what was essentially just vanilla ice cream with Rolos. It was OK.
I thought of my dad’s heroic efforts last week though when I ate my first Sonya apple.
We almost didn’t stop at Shop n Save that day because Henry is a heartless bastard who thought it would be just fine to visit Speck and Don’s graves at the pet cemetery without bringing a floral offering. Who does that? Fucking asshole Henry, that’s who. He also kicks albino puppies and wants to eat seals, not save them.
Anyway, I got all huffy so Henry turned the car around and drove to a grocery store about 10 minutes away from the cemetery because he’s afraid of The Huff. That’s when I saw the glistening bushel of Sonya apples. (Not when he turned the car around, but when we went inside Shop n Save. Don’t be stupid. I don’t eat fruit off the side of the road. Anymore.)
When I saw the Sonyas, I’m not going to front and pretend like some dubstep Hallelujah chorus kicked into effect, because as of that moment, it was just an apple I had never had.
You know how I am with apples. Ever since Barb duped me into falling in love with them all the way back in 2011 (I was a late bloomer), I’ve since been on a mission to try every single “brand” of apple I can get my decorated paws on. Lately, though Henry has only been bringing home the ubiquitous Jonagolds and Galas, sometimes a Honeycrisp if I’ve been good, because apparently it’s slim pickins in January.
But this Sonya apple. My god, it tasted like fucking candy. Like no other apple I have ever had. Literally, this motherfucker was a natural candy apple. I couldn’t believe it. Pornography on my tongue. Can’t type in full sentences.
All I knew was that I needed to eat these gems like, every day. The problem was that Henry, the official grocery shopper of the household, said that he had never seen these apples anywhere in his pantry raids. (Or panty raids.) And the Shop n Save we bought them from (just two because Henry “refuses” to buy a metric shit ton of something he’s not sure I’m going to love or reject) is approximately 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh and Henry just doesn’t love me enough to be making weekly Sonja pilgrimages.
And thus the burgeoning obsession was born. No, I didn’t stalk a farmer a la Erin’s Dad, but I did take to the Internet, where I found the official website of the Sonja apple, which presented me with the opportunity to leave customer feedback. SO I DID.
AND THEN A SONYA APPLE REPRESENTATIVE EMAILED ME!
I was so stoked about this that I of course wanted to shout about it to everyone at work. The blanket response was: “I mean….OK. Good job.” And that’s when it hit me. He might not be my biological father, but holy fucking shit, I am just like my goddamn dad. Casing creepy Asian markets for persimmons, having my BFF mail me cherimoya from California, ingratiating myself with Sonya apple breeders–what is my life??
Fruit is my Caramel Caribou.
Don’t worry about me. The local Shop n Save is also selling Sonyas, so I’m stocked up for now.