Dale and I were having a philosophical discussion about life’s regrets, and he asked if I had any. He might have been holding his breath as he waited for my response.
I said, “I regret not getting the coconut cake at Barbara’s Fishtrap in Princeton-by-the-Sea.”
The cake looked so perfect, but I was all holier-than-thou about sugar, so I skipped it, and I’ve been thinking about that cake ever since … at least three years. There’s a clear snapshot in my head. I remember staring at the cake display from across the room. And then someone ordered it! Details emerged, and I ogled layers upon layers of pale creamy coco-nutty whipped fluffiness that only coconut lover can appreciate.
Then it was my turn to ask about regrets, as in, “How about you?” For a minute, I thought he’d go deep and reveal a profoundly sad truth from the bowels of his barren tender soul, but then I remembered he’s from Maine.
He said, “I regret not knowing about soft shell crabs when we lived in Pennsylvania.”
Oh, man, I share that regret. We didn’t discover soft shells until we lived in Alabama and started going to New Orleans for mini-vacations. Later, we lived on the Carolina coast, where they were also plentiful. In Texas, we had some good ones in Port Aransas.
Thinking about the coconut cake made me nostalgic for a hot fudge sundae. My mother used to treat us to hot fudge sundaes when we were out and about – sometimes at the lunch counter at J.J. Newberry’s, which was in one of the original outdoor malls in Orange County, where I grew up. Sometimes at Helen Grace Chocolates, which was in a strip mall.
I still love a good strip mall!
Anyway, I ate my lifetime supply of ice cream in 1973, when I oh-so-conveniently worked at an ice cream store. I love it when a plan comes together.
The store was a Carvel, with premium ice cream and excellent toppings, which could be scooped from a bin in the walk-in when no one was looking. It was during this unfortunate period when I ate hot fudge sundaes for breakfast, and I’ve been dreaming about them ever since. Seriously.
I’m not big on goals, but I’m adding the iconic ice cream creation to my list. List of what? I don’t know … things to do, things to eat, simple pleasures. I’m grateful coconut cake was the biggest regret I could muster, and notwithstanding the art of moderation, I don’t want to say at the end, “Damn, I wish I’d had that hot fudge sundae.”
At the end of it all, I am reminded of my mother. I believe her last words were, “Is there any more See’s?”
Donna Pekar is an aging badass (for real) who lives in California and writes Retirement Confidential.