Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Vanilla Malt From Hell

On my way home from work, I had a yen for something sweet, so I stopped at Sonic to buy a milkshake.

My first mistake was trying to go through the drive-through. When I told the kid on the other end of the intercom that I couldn't find the shakes on the menu, he told me to look at the other board on the passenger side of my car. I looked in vain for a second menu, levitating in mid-air to the right of the drive-through lane. Evidently intercom-boy thought I was calling from one of the drive-in-and-park intercoms. So I apologized for confusing him and pulled into a parking space.

I decided on a small vanilla malt. I ordered it, paid for it, and drove off. For the next half-hour I sucked, sucked, sucked for all I was worth, but couldn't get anything out of that malt. I pulled the lid off when I was almost home and saw that the cup was still three-quarters full. It was so frustrating! I sucked so hard that the straw flattened itself; I flipped it over and flattened the other end as well; I scraped the sides of my tongue on the edge of the straw; I gave my lip a couple of hernias from getting sucked into the straw; and now and then, just to keep me from giving up completely, I would get half a sip of vanilla ice cream, and/or a mouthful of dry malt powder that promptly got stuck in my teeth.

It was as if they had jammed two scoops of hard ice cream into a styrofoam cup, sprinkled it with malt flavoring, and stuck a straw in it. Amazing. And tantalizing! Whenever I was stopped at a traffic signal, I pulled away on that malt - only to have to set it down again the moment I tasted anything except cold air, because the light had changed by then. The worst of it was that the styrofoam cup prevented the ice cream from melting, so even when I gave up for a few minutes at a time, it didn't make much difference.

You know I love to be miserable. If I don't have a reason to complain, my day seems incomplete. So I have to admit that a part of me enjoyed the excuse to get angry afforded by the caring professionals at Sonic. And my happiness was made complete when, sucking through numb lips on my still-mostly-full malt, I drove past the ELCA church near my home and saw their new sign. After several weeks of pedestrian messages, they're back up to their old tricks again: "PRAYING WILL GIVE YOU A CALM-PLEX." If I had actually swallowed enough vanilla malt to upchuck at that point, it would have come out of my nose. Brrr!!!

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