A high-school friend of mine had only one older sister and didn’t understand the pains that younger siblings could be. She seemed to like being around my little sister and brother.
In the summer of 1972, my friend drove over to my house. She decided we should take my younger sister and brother to the Baskin Robbins store for ice cream. My sister was almost eight that summer, and my brother about four-and-a-half.
I protested, but my siblings were all in favor of the idea, and my parents gave permission. Off we went in my friend’s car, whether I was keen on the idea or not.
Baskin Robbins has always touted their thirty-one flavors, and 1972 was no exception.
My sister declared that she wanted licorice ice cream.
Our younger brother, who wanted whatever my sister wanted, decided he wanted licorice also.
Licorice ice cream is black—almost as black as the candy twists—and smells and tastes like the candy as well. My siblings liked licorice, so the smell and taste were all right.
But, as an experienced older sister and frequent babysitter, I knew what black could do to clothes and upholstery.
I protested again. To no avail.
“If they want licorice, they can have licorice,” my friend said.
“They’ll get it all over your car,” I argued.
“We’ll stay here till they’re done eating,” she said.
“Where will they sit?” I asked. Baskin Robbins didn’t have any indoor seating.
“They can sit on the hood of my car.”
My younger sister and brother had never been allowed to sit on the hood of a car before. They exuberantly agreed to this plan.
I was outnumbered.
It was a hot summer evening, and the ice cream began to melt immediately. And to drip.
At four-and-a-half, my little brother was not able to manage his drips. His shirt very quickly became covered in black ice cream.
At almost eight, my sister soon was unable to manage her drips as well. Her shirt was covered in black ice cream as well.
Soon the drips spread to their shorts.
The kids got sticky.
My friend laughed.
I went into Baskin Robbins for more napkins, and tried to clean them up.
“Don’t touch anything!” I ordered when we got back in the car.
We got them home and into the bathtub. I don’t think anything was permanently damaged, except for the shirts. And shorts.
The picture I wish I had is of my younger siblings covered in licorice ice cream. While my friend laughed, and I prematurely acted like the strict parent I later became.
What picture do you wish you had?