Snowstorms call for something cold, sweet

This week’s column-writing night is bone-chilling cold, with chunks of snow falling from a winter-dark sky — a typical end-of-January Nebraska affair. My attention strays from the computer screen to the kitchen window, which stares at me like a big black eye. One thought clouds my mind.

I’m starving for ice cream.

My brain goes haywire this time of year, stuck in limbo between the dead of winter and the earliest hint of spring. Imagine BBs rattling in a tuna fish can. That’s my head right now.
I have no idea why snowstorms prompt ice cream cravings, but I can recall lots of occasions where Hunka Burnin’ Hubby and I sat in a deserted Dairy Queen, slurping hot fudge sundaes while the outside world swirled powdered sugar white.

We’re kind of weird that way.

Hunka won’t readily admit it, but he goes a bit loopy this time of year, too. The odd behavior covers a lot of years — over three decades to be exact. When I met the man in 1980, he drove a black ’73 Mustang with fat back tires, no muffler, a chrome gas pedal shaped like a foot, and a hood scoop big enough to inhale a cat. The headlights randomly cut out as you drove down the road, and the horn button sprang from the steering wheel and landed in your lap. If you hit a bump hard enough, the back seat flopped down with a bang. It was a complete blast in the summer, but a giant pig on ice in the winter.

The first winter I knew him was loaded with snow, and I’ll never forget hearing the growl of that engine as he came to pick me up, or the sight of those fat back tires wrapped in chains.
“You can go anywhere with these babies,” he’d say as he pointed to the car’s back end.

I’d get in, slam the door, and we’d rattle down the street like a lumber wagon. We’d yell at each other over the ear-piercing din.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT (‘rawr rawr rawr’) TO DO TONIGHT?” he’d ask.

“HUH?” I’d reply. (‘rawr rawr rawr’)

“ARE YOU (‘rawr rawr rawr’) HUNGRY? HOW ABOUT A (‘rawr rawr rawr’) MOVIE?”

I’d smile and nod ridiculously, largely oblivious to the conversation. But it was oddly surprising finding myself at a restaurant or movie theater — like a noisy, tooth-jarring roll of the dice.
I knew I had a keeper one snowy night, when Hunka said what was on my mind. “DO YOU WANT TO GO FOR SOME (‘rawr rawr rawr’) ICE CREAM?”

I don’t recall the exact date when we met. I don’t remember his exact words when he proposed to me a couple years later. But the night he asked me in the middle of a snowstorm if I wanted ice cream was when I knew he was the one for me.

The ’73 Mustang is long gone, but after 30 married Nebraska winters our snowstorm ice cream runs are still going strong. As I wrap up this column, Hunka is staring out the front door.

“It’ll be a skating rink tomorrow morning,” he says. “The snow is falling pretty hard.”
He grabs the keys to his 21-foot truck, and heads to the garage to wake its growling diesel engine.

“What are you waiting for?” he calls. “Dairy Queen closes in 15 minutes!”

Tamera Schlueter

Tam Schlueter adopts a "strike-fast-and-keep-them-laughing" approach to writing. Her column appears every Thursday in the Hastings Tribune, and showcases the wonder of family, dogs, muscle cars, and folks with blue collars and no-nonsense attitudes.

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