Oh, Precious Mineral!

I like all my volunteer gigs, but my Friday afternoon at Malachi House has moved into the category of “mustn’t miss.” I just made a most delightful discovery. On the second floor, around the corner from the elevator, they have the cornucopia of snacky treasure: a nugget ice machine.

You know those model homes that showcase all the latest gadgetry and the most cutting-edge domestic technology? Well, this residence for neighbors with terminal illness is sort of like a model home of clever kindness. Everywhere you look, there’s evidence that people had their thinking caps on snuggly when furnishing a row of brick townhouses in this quiet corner of Greater Hingetown: from the generous dining table that provides a friendly gathering place, to the cozy porches overlooking a carefully tended streetside perennial border. And of course, there is this most excellent, most miraculously magical ice machine.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I developed pagophagia, and I apparently never fully recovered. I can’t say I tried. It’s one of the most benign of the various forms of pica, it seems to me. Craving for non-nutritive items can get pretty icky if you find yourself munching dirt or laundry detergent. But craving ice—while it might indicate something serious like an iron deficiency, and can be a little hard on your teeth—at least doesn’t horrify people when they catch you indulging. In fact, I only just now found out that there are other connaisseurs de glace!

Oh, yeah.

As I was digging into the ice bucket in the kitchen for the second time today, the cook looked up from her listmaking to raise a knowing eyebrow. “I know, right?” she said. “It’s so delicious!” Yes! It is! These pebbles of ice manage to be both crisp and slightly slushy, with a clean finish absolutely free of chlorine bouquet. And here—right here!—was this other human being who understood!

I shared my delightful discovery with my good husband when he got home from work a while ago and, displaying one of his traits that can be just the teensiest bit infuriating, he casually informed me of the Sonic Ice Cult. “Oh sure,” he said, setting down his bag and flipping through the mail. “They call it ‘nugget ice.’ Sonic Drive-In is supposed to have the best. You can get a machine to make it at home.” Had I not been so filled with a glow of comradery and harmony, possibly I would have throttled him.

I’m not sure why, after 22 years of observing me carefully crushing ice cubes, melting them in cold water to the point of perfection before savoring their icy goodness, why, I say, he did not one time suggest date-night dinner at Sonic, or clue me in that there were other people like me, or buy me a goddamn nugget maker for our anniversary! But I will let it go. I will just let it go.

Because now I know. And because blessed Malachi House is right around the corner.

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