There was a time, when Melly Marvel was young, when the Sprawlings were big into car trip, packing the car full of some of the things they intended to take with them (invariably someone left all of their clothes at home) and all the food they could find and heading towards a random beach somewhere.
Melly Marvel loved these trips because these trips always brought about the best stories and stories were the thing be which families were made, or so Melly Marvel believed.
Anyway, this one time on this one trip, the Sprawlings stopped for ice cream.
They were in Savannah or Destin or some such warm place in a car with an air conditioning that didn't work too well. A new car, mind you, so one that still smelled nice and about which they still harbored illusions about the sanctity of the interiors and upholsteries- but also a steam hot box of a vehicle because the AC wasn't up to snuff.
Into this situation, Marietta brought ice cream cones. Phelan's was, as it always was, vanilla in chocolate dipped.
No one had thought better of this because no one had realized that the heat of the car and the heat of the chocolate shell would combine to produce, inside, an ice cream the consistency of milk, which it did.
Melly Marvel cowered in the back seat.
Marietta began lamenting the lack of napkins, as her husband held the offending cone aloft, the melted chocolate coursing down his arms like something out of a horror flick.
All the while Chris Isaak blared from the radio at full blast.
It was a moment in which Melly Marvel played no real role and yet one which scarred her forever. From that point forward, Melly Marvel would approach ice cream like a race against time.
Walking the streets of Rome with a friend years later, after polishing off the second gelato of the day, the friend would say, 'I'm always so impressed by how quickly you eat ice cream,' to which Melly Marvel would reply, 'It's nothing impressive. Just the result of a childhood trauma from which I still have PTSD.'