Playing a sport in college is not unlike what I imagine it is to be in prison, for many reasons, one among them being the ability to make the outside world's ordinary seem luxurious. The use of normal leg function, a late morning wake-up, a soda with dinner :: a perfect jig, spa day, aged wine.
It was an away game and we were promised ice cream if we won. It had unfortunately come to this, and the excitement for something we were rarely allowed started during the game. If a goal was scored, where there were usually congratulatory hugs, there were instead chants for that sweet cream. ICE CREAM! ICE CREAM! ICE CREAM! We were all above the age of 18, dancing for dessert in front of other adults. A close friend scored and turned immediately to find me, releasing a scream into my face unlike any other noise I'd ever heard my friend make — this petite, gazelle/Gisele-like girl summoning ice cream not from her gut, but seemingly from the ground and all of her history.
Thanks to us trying harder than we'd ever tried before, we did win. After the game we showered as quickly as we could, packed our things, and settled onto the bus. The mood inside could only be described as: unsafe. It was quiet, but the kind of quiet after the first slam of a fender bender and before the inevitable second collision. Our coach made his way to the intercom at the front. Click.
"All right, so, good game, girls."
A pause. Then reluctantly, "I know we promised–"
"ICE CREAAAAAAAAAAAM!!!!!" The bus of 25 girls erupted into screams. Frantic, frantic screams. Some girls began to shake the seats in front of them. Others grabbed the closest person in their row to share in this amazing moment. I'm pretty sure someone ran their face across their window so they could create enough condensation to write "ICE CREAM." We were hysterical. I do not mean that we were funny, I mean that we were each entering into our own form of psychosis. Imagine that scene in Mean Girls, except enclosed in a small, moving bus.
Our coach watched in horror. Would the bus tip over? he probably wondered. The screaming swelled around me, reaching insane frequencies, and I think I blacked out, because when I came to, the chanting for ice cream had somehow, impossibly, morphed into "Simon Birch." SIMON BIRCH! SIMON BIRCH! I looked over and one of the smaller members of our team was being hoisted up and shoved into an overhead bin. It is here that I tell you there are doctors, accountants, and news reporters among you that helped to successfully close the latch on someone stuffed inside a compartment meant for luggage because of their excitement for a single ice cream cone and loose understanding of the movie Simon Birch (loosely based on John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany).
We got our ice cream. Were the events leading up to it the single greatest achievement of all of our lives? In a word, no. But were the events leading up to it enough to cause several grown women to declare with absolute certainty and without shame, "I'm going to pee"? Yes. The I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream scenario is real, it's terrifying, and it can happen to you. Please RT.
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Erin Sullivan lives in Portland, Oregon.