Ice Cream [Short Fiction]

Inspired by the economic notion that more choices implies better decision making. Based on a true story.
-Imran

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Ice Cream by Imran Lorgat

“I’m going to take the Choc 99 Dipped,” my brother announced, eyeing the ice-cream cone drenched in molten chocolate, a flake sticking out from the top. R14.95. The regular Choc Dipped was R9.95, about R10. So that meant that the difference of R5 accounted for half a flake. What a rip-off.
.    “So what are you taking?” my brother asked me, an air of confidence surrounding him now that he was firm in his decision of which ice-cream to buy.
.    “I’m not sure yet,” I told him, stroking my chin philosophically. .    An elderly couple were having some credit card dispute at the front of the line; we still had time to decide as we waited in the queue. My eyes went up to the menu board, searching across it and back. Did I want a cone? Or perhaps a nice tub of ice cream? And then, of course, there were the Whizzers too; they very much resembled the McFlurries from McDonalds. I had taken the Bar One and Aero Whizzer last time. The mint chocolatey sweetness combined with the lush smoothness of the ice-cream had been amazing.
.    “Hmm,” I pondered out aloud, “Maybe I’ll take the caramel dip,” .    R10. It seemed reasonably priced and I didn’t want to spend too much. And I did like caramel after all. My eyes flicked back towards the Whizzer on the menu board. Maybe I was actually craving the Bar One and Aero flavour more than the caramel at this point. But a Whizzer was too filling and I’d just eaten.
.    “You know, you could take a tub,” my brother offered, pointing it out to me. A small tub cost R11; R1 more than the caramel cone. I didn’t really like the taste of the cone anyway, did I? A tub meant more actual ice-cream and that would be better.
.    “And you can even add toppings,” my brother continued. My eyes scanned the menu again. What a stroke of fortune! The toppings included Bar One Sauce and Green Aero Bits.
.    “I think I’ll take a small tub with Bar One and Green Aero toppings,” I told my brother with an air of satisfaction. That would hit the spot.
.    “Then maybe I’ll take a tub with chocolate sauce and a flake,” my brother replied in kind. We’d seemed to have reached the perfect solution… and then I saw something that made my heart sink.
.    “Wait a second,” I pointed out, “The toppings aren’t free. It’s R11 for the small tub, R5 for the sauces and R7.50 for the bits or flake.”
.    “Damn,” my brother complained.
.    “So let’s see,” I continued, weighing up my options, “It’s R11 for the small tub, R5 for the sauces and R7.50 for the bits. That’s…. R16 plus R7.5… R23.50! Wait a second, a Bar One and Aero Whizzer is R26 and it’s a lot bigger than a small tub. I’ll just take that!”
.    My brother didn’t really seem to be listening, “I’ll just take the Choc 99 Dipped,” he said to no one in particular. His original order: a cone with chocolate sauce and a flake; R15.
.    But wait, I thought to myself. If I was taking the Whizzer for R26 now, then that was a long way off from what I had initially wanted to spend. I’d originally wanted a caramel cone for only R10 and now, somewhere between the tub and the Whizzer, I’d migrated to more than double that? And I’d just eaten a King Steer Burger; I wasn’t even hungry enough for a Whizzer. And it was so fattening! I was just being greedy. I needed to lose weight in any case.
.    But on the other hand, it wasn’t like I could get Bar One Sauce and Aero Bits for much cheaper if I ordered a tub. Damn, I’d just have to take the Caramel Cone and be happy with it.
.    “I’m taking the Caramel Cone,” I announced to my brother,” R10.”
.    I felt firm saying it out aloud but the truth was that I lacked conviction in my decision. My eyes kept drifting longingly to the Whizzer on the far right and admiring all its goodness. I could stop remembering how the milky texture of the ice cream and the sweet golden nectar of the Bar One Syrup complimented perfectly the fresh crunchiness of the Green Aero Bits; chocolatey but with the potent freshness of mint; what a heavenly combination! Why was I doing this to myself? Deep down, I knew that I didn’t really want the Caramel Cone. Caramel was nice and everything but what I really wanted was the Whizzer. Sure it was R26 but in a different scenario, I wouldn’t think twice about spending R50 at Steers or KFC. And it wasn’t exactly R26 that I was deliberating over anyway. Since I’d have paid R10 for the cone, it was actually the difference of R16 between the Cone and the Whizzer that I was apprehensive about. And what was the worth of R16 in the grand scheme of things anyway? R16 couldn’t get you much more than a bar of chocolate or two; it was negligible. What was R16 on a treat once in a while anyway? It’s not like I had ice-cream every day.
.    But the weight, I needed to lose the weight. How was I going to lose the weight if I kept pigging out at the slightest of provocations? I needed to have focus; I needed to have discipline! The short term benefits of choosing the Whizzer were tempting but, in the long term, I’d thank myself that I’d chosen differently.
.    But now that my heart was fixed on the Bar One and Aero Whizzer, I really wouldn’t be able to enjoy the Caramel Cone now would I? It’s intense sweetness would be offset by the bitter flavour of regret.
My cousin walked past from the front of the queue; in his hands, he held a small tub of ice-cream with crumbled pieces of Oreos sprinkled all over the top.
.    “I should have just taken the Oreo McFlurry from McDonalds,” he sighed.
.    “Next!” the lady at the front called. Panic arose within me. I didn’t want to experience the same disappointment as my cousin! What was I to do?
.    “Choc 99 Dipped,” my brother declared confidently.
.    The lady at the counter turned to me, her stare piercing me to my very soul. I could feel the tension rising. I could feel the pressure building. I could feel everything halt to a standstill as the fate of the entire queue hung on my next words.
.    “What can I get you?” she asked me politely.
.    “Plain cone,” I blurted out instantly, “R5.”
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