Last weekend I traveled to Corning, in the Finger Lakes region of New York, for my High School Reunion. Which one is really not of any relevance, nor is that important. It was more fun & interesting than I had expected. Apparently there are many hilarious moments that I am the only one to have forgotten. We had one of the rowdy-est classes Corning-Painted Post East High School has ever seen. Pulling pranks was great fun, I repeat FUN, and not viewed as “crimes” or acts of terrorism as they are today. I feel sorry for the generations that have been, and will continue to be, raised during an era when fear-mongers and liability issues suck all of the fun out of life. What do you suppose would happen if someone planted pot in the library planters today? Would they grow to nearly 5 inches tall before being discovered? Would people laugh about that? I am willing to bet that dusting the entire inside of your English teachers sports jacket with eraser dust causing him to walk around the remainder of the day looking like a ridiculous incarnation of Pig Pen could get you expelled. What about the kid who hacked into the school PA system & started making his own announcements during a school assembly? My friend Dana puffed on a lit cigar during her oral report on Mark Twain as this was necessary in order for her to get into character. These fun days are gone forever. “Fun” has been reduced to “wear your shirt backwards day” and “french fry Fridays”. Heart breaking, isn’t it?
In New York they don’t have state stores & beer distributors. You can buy beer in the grocery where you get the rest of your supplies for the super bowl party or at the gas station where you fill-up before heading off to Pine Hill. I view this as green living, think of the reduction in auto emissions and green house gases? On top of that, ALL bottles whether glass or plastic, refillable or disposable have a deposit/return. You do not find beer cans & water bottles piled sky-high along the highways & back roads. Everything goes back to where you bought it, you get your deposit money back, everything gets recycled, and nothing goes to a landfill. If someone from Pennsylvania throws one of their bottles out the car window, someone will pick it up, take it to Wegmans, & get 5¢. Now WHY, I ask you, is this not the norm in EVERY state. Is it because forced recycling is a violation of someones rights? Or, is it because someone is making a fortune creating landfills?
Genny beer is not as popular now as it was when I was a teen. Perhaps under-age drinkers have more sophisticated taste, or perhaps they have more resources to buy beer with a little more caché. (YAY! My 13 year old, Elena, just taught he how to insert an accent mark! Now I’m feeling all sophisticated & erudite… caché … ooooo and look…. I can do a “real” ♥ too. What’s next alphas? omegas? tildas? oomlots? proper spelling & grammar???). I have been made aware that in the Southern Tier beer is bought & sold in “racks” not 6 “packs”, 12 “packs”, or “cases”. Ask for a “rack” or Peg C. will say you are old & definitely un-cool. My Gennys are destined to be consumed at the big shin dig at my house this weekend. If you are lucky to be there, you may, because I am sweet like that, enjoy one of my precious Genny red eyes served ice-cold.
Finally, an excursion to the Finger Lakes region would not be complete without experiencing the trails & tribulations of the time-honored hunt for black raspberry soft serve. Soft ice cream is my favorite indulgence…. and if Twinkle-Kote is available, I’m rolling in it. BRSS & T-K are not known to the ice cream stands in my area of Pennsylvania, but, in the Southern Tier they are to be expected. “We have Black raspberry soft serve” or “Black raspberry soft serve TODAY” are signs proudly posted outside every manner of ice cream establishment from the ramshackle roadside shed to the restored Victorian parlour. But, here’s the thing, just because they say they have it doesn’t mean that they do. This stuff is a Finger Lakes institution, a closely guarded secret, a cultural icon of rich creamy goodness. Even if you hate black raspberries you eat the soft serve so that they don’t take away your birthday.
Driving between Elmira & Watkins Glen on Route 14 I passed 3 ice-cream joints. Two were of the falling down shed sort & a spit polished mom & pop affair. Out of the 3, only two had the requisite sign proudly displayed so close to the road that you could spit on it when driving past at 60 mph. There are skid marks in front of all of these stands from people slamming on their brakes. The first I passed was a dilapidated, but quaint shed/shack. They did NOT have BRSS as announced by their lying sign. In Philadelphia this would be considered “false advertising” and there would be several lawyers already on the case hoping to make a killing in their class action lawsuit. I bought a vanilla cone anyway, just in case another opportunity did not present itself. But sure enough, about another 5 miles down the road a beacon of polished glass & hand-made signs revealed the holy grail “YES we have black raspberry soft serve!” Having finished the vanilla cone two minutes prior, I was ready to try again…. success! This joint had BRSS and T- K! I did not feel at all guilty having a second cone because it was duty and not gluttony that drove me to do it. I wish I could tell you the name of this oasis and the GPS coordinates, but alas, I cannot. All I can tell you is that it is across from the beer/liquor store where I got carded on route 14.