Nothing makes these final weeks of summer linger quite like a visit to an ice cream shop, where life's pace slows and we feel like we're part of a Norman Rockwell painting, savoring a scoop of chocolate chip or rich strawberry and then washing it down with a mouthful of breast milk that's warm and kind of sour and is so fresh you can see the strange woman in the back room pulling her blouse back down.
(If there's a national writing prize for Most Disgusting Sentence, I proudly place that one in nomination.)
Here's the actual sentence from a recent Associated Press news story: "[People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] wants world-famous Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream to tap nursing moms, rather than cows, for the milk used in its ice cream ... saying it would reduce the suffering of cows and calves and give ice cream lovers a healthier product."
Ah, so it's those wacky PETA folks. (You know the old saying: "Can't live with them, can't say I'd mind seeing them trampled by happy, free-range elephants.")
PETA is not kidding. In a letter to Ben & Jerry's, PETA claimed a restaurant in Switzerland is about to start using breast milk.
"Storchen restaurant is set to unveil a menu that includes soups, stews and sauces made with at least 75 percent breast milk procured from human donors who are paid in exchange for their milk," wrote PETA executive VP Tracy Reiman.
In accordance with strict Swiss law, the women are also given prompt medical attention if they bend over too far and a nipple touches the frying pan.
So today we discuss breast milk ice cream, and we'll refrain from immature comments such as, "I scream, you scream, we all scream when that crazy woman squirts breast milk onto our hot fudge sundae."
We also vow to not make up any juvenile flavors such as Nippol-itan. Or Hooter Pecan. Or joke about actual flavors such as Peanut Butter Cup, which comes in sizes B, C or, if you're really hungry, DD. (I had a DD cup yesterday. Men stared at my ice cream, and today my back hurts.)
Because research is the key to journalism and I can put ice cream on my expense account, I spent some time Sunday in the Cold Stone Creamery on North Academy Boulevard. I asked customers to read the first few paragraphs of the actual AP news story.
"Oh my God! Oh my God!" said my first victim, Rhonda Gaherty, a mid-40s woman from Colorado Springs. Rhonda's sister, Rochelle Mason, also read the story. Her eyebrows went up so far they briefly left her forehead before she said, "Ooooohhhhhhh. That is so gross."
Their lovely mother, Mary Schaefer, nearly spit out a mouthful of chocolate peanut butter ice cream when it was her turn to see the story.
"I really can't believe I'm still reading this," she said, repeating the No. 1 response among Gazette subscribers who get to the third paragraph of most editorials.
Next were two early-20s women from our village. Erin Besgrove only got through the first paragraph. "Oohhhh, noooo!" she shrieked. Ally Eresman read two paragraphs and it took her 20 seconds to un-scrunch her face. Then she looked down at her cup of Nutter Butter ice cream.
"I'm not sure I can eat this now," she said. "I have to get this story out of my head."
Then there was Cold Stone worker Jenna's take.
"I baby-sit a lot," Jenna said with a disgusted look on her face. "One mother left breast milk in a bottle, and I'd have to heat it and then put a drop on my arm and taste it. It's gross. It tasted sour."
Finally, Lynn, the ice cream shop co-owner (she said using their last names would require corporate approval) took the story into the back, where her husband was working.
"He read it," Lynn said when she returned. "He made the face."