Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as America’s most famous literary icon, Mark Twain, once said that truth is stranger than fiction. Many times over the years, especially when I was actively practicing law, I’ve found these words to be quite true. Believe me, I could tell you stories that would make your head spin! Sometimes real life can be so freaking bizarre, that even the most fantastic fiction pales in comparison.
I had planned to write a whole different post today, but something happened to me on Friday night that still has my blood boiling, and I just had to share it with you.
Mini SGCC was off at the movies with friends, so the Hubs and I were on our own. We set out for a hot night on the town! We had a fabulous and cheap meal (under $50 for king crab, fresh oyster stew and jumbo wild Florida shrimp – and beer), at a casual neighborhood seafood place that we like, and were slowly shedding off the accumulated stress of the week. After dinner, being the wildly sophisticated and cosmopolitan couple we are, we decided to mosey on over to Borders to hang out for a while.
We arrived at about 7:00 – a little too late for the after school crowd and a little too early for the after dinner crowd – so we had the place almost all to ourselves. We popped over to see what was percolating in the coffee bar (shut up!) and threw back a few double White Chocolate Mocha Macchiatos. We love to live on the edge. Then, we leisurely browsed through the stacks, me in the cookbook section and Mr. SGCC, over by the DVDs. I picked up copies of Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes and The Home Creamery (I’ll tell you about those later.), plus the new Fall fashion issues of Vogue, Elle, Allure and W. What! Did you think that all I cared about was food? A girl still has to look good when she trolls the farmer’s markets, you know!
Later, I headed up to the check-out counter while Mr. SGCC scanned the New Releases one more time to make sure there was nothing he missed. There was only one register open and it was manned by a mild-mannered, pleasant twentysomething girl. As she scanned my purchases, a book on display at the counter caught my eye. It was an adorable children’s book titled How Are You Peeling?. The book was filled with beautiful and enchanting photos of different fruits and vegetables carved into faces reflecting different feelings and emotions. It was delightful and I had to have it! Um…now might be a good time to mention that I have an inexplicable and unnatural fascination with animated and personified food. The clerk had already scanned my credit card and as I signed the receipt, I asked her if she could quickly ring the book up for me as a cash sale. She happily obliged.
I looked around and there was only one guy behind me in line, flipping through a magazine. I turned to him and said (very politely), “Do you mind? This will only take a minute.” And then, my friends, is when my truth became stranger than fiction. Here are the highlights of the exchange that followed.
Him: Sure, go ahead. I’m just standing here waiting for you to finish so I can get on with my life.
Um…..okay, then. I proceeded to dig out money to pay for my book.
Him: After all, you’re the most important thing here, right? Don’t worry about me. It’s all about you!
Huh! I was a little taken aback. Surely, he must be kidding, so I turned, laughed nervously and said,
“Er…hehe…I guess so. Thank you for noticing…hehe.” I turned back to the clerk.
Him: Yessiree. It’s all about you, isn’t it. You are more important than everyone else. You probably own this store. That’s it. You own this store, don’t you? THAT’S WHY IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU!!! NO ONE ELSE IS IMPORTANT HERE, BECAUSE IT’S FUCKING ALL ABOUT YOU!!!
I looked at the sales clerk. The sales clerk looked back at me with an open mouth and wild, frightened eyes. Mr. SGCC came rushing over to the rescue.
Mr. SGCC: What the hell is going on here!
Me: I’m just trying to check out and this guy is yelling at me!
Mr. SGCC (to Mr. Nasty Crazy-Eyes Man): Hey, Pal. (Yes, he actually uses the word pal.) What’s your problem?
Mr. Nasty Crazy-Eyes Man: My problem? You want to know what my problem is? YOUR FUCKING WIFE IS MY PROBLEM. SHE THINKS EVERYTHING IS ALL ABOUT HER!!!
I looked beseechingly at the sales clerk for help. She and her wild, frightened eyes just stared blankly at me. She was incapable of speech. Where the hell was a manager? Didn’t anyone else in the store have EARS!?!?
Mr. SGCC puffed up his chest and stood up tall. So did Mr. Nasty Crazy-Eyes Man. Mr. SGCC is 6′ 2″ and was twice his size. He is a body builder and can bench press 350 pounds. Mr. Nasty Crazy-Eyes Man was not only nasty and crazy, he was stupid too. Mr. SGCC could easily trounce his a$$!
Mr. SGCC: LISTEN A$$HOLE. I THINK YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN!
Just then a scrawny little bird-like woman came rushing up. She grabbed Mr. Nasty Crazy-Eyes Man’s arm and started talking to him in hushed tones. He just kept yelling expletives at us over her shoulder.
Me: Look. It’s not my fault that they only have one check-out line open. I don’t know why you’re being so insulting!
Mr. Nasty Crazy-Eyes Man: I HAVEN’T EVEN BEGUN TO INSULT YOU, YOU COW!!!
And with that, he started towards me. Yikes!!! Both Mr. SGCC and the bird-like woman, who I assumed was Mr. Nasty Crazy-Eyes Man’s wife, jumped between us.
Mr. SGCC: (growling) I’m warning you. BACK. OFF.
Mr. Nasty Crazy-Eyes Man: OH YEAH…..OR WHAT!
I feel it’s relevant to mention at this point that the poor sales clerk had not moved or uttered a sound since this whole incident began. No other employee or manager had made an appearance either.
Both men were poised to strike – fists raised and nostrils flaring. I even think I saw smoke coming out of Mr. SGCC’s ears. I couldn’t believe what was happening! We were in a book store, for chrissakes!
Just then, Mrs. Scrawny Little Bird-like Woman turned around to face us. She looked completely panic-stricken.
“Please!” she begged, “Don’t do this! Just let it go….. please!”
Me: Hey, we were just trying buy some books. HE attacked US!
Mrs. Scrawny Little Bird-like Woman: I know, I know. But, please just go now. It’s not worth all this trouble. Don’t provoke him. Please!
I looked at her face and I had seen it many times before in my career as a divorce lawyer. It was the face of fear and abuse. I had my suspicions that Mr. Nasty Crazy-Eyes Man had taken his frustrations out on her in the past and might even try it again that night. Mr. SGCC saw it too. He spends his professional life dealing with abuse victims. We decided to end it there.
Mr. SGCC: Lady, your husband needs mental help. He has some serious anger management issues.
Mrs. Scrawny Little Bird-like Woman: Yes. Fine. Please, just leave.
The sales clerk was still in a state of suspended animation. No one from management had ever materialized.
Shell-shocked, Mr. SGCC and I walked out to our car. I commented to him that I was pretty annoyed that none of the staff in the store did anything to help. He said that most of those stores have a panic button behind the counter in case of a robbery or other emergency, and that maybe someone had pushed it. I didn’t know that.
As we were driving out of the parking lot, a police cruiser pulled in and parked right in front of Borders. Too little, too late. Mr. Nasty Crazy-Eyes Man and his wife had already left the building.
Let me tell you, after that ordeal I was in need of some serious ice cream therapy! Unfortunately, I was too shaken up to go anywhere else but straight home. The only thing left to do was to take my mind off things by making some homemade ice cream. Either that or drink heavily, and I’m not much of a drinker. And it couldn’t be just any old ice cream, either. It had to be the best freaking ice cream in the history of the World!
So, dear readers, if my story about our encounter with Mr. Nasty Crazy-Eyes Man didn’t shake you to your core, this ice cream will. In fact, you should probably sit down now, if you haven’t already. Please. It’s for your own good, because once you read about this phenomenally decadent, mind-numbingly delectable ice cream I have created, there’s no telling how you might react. I can’t have that on my conscience, so for heaven’s sake, please SIT DOWN!
I’ve gorged on gelato in Italy, glace in France and frozen custard anywhere I could find it. I know my ice cream, and this is probably the best ice cream I’ve ever had. It starts with a custard base containing milk, cream, egg yolks, white and brown sugar, fragrant vanilla bean and a generous pinch of sea salt. Once the ice cream is churned, crunchy toffee bits and thick, gooey dulce de leche are swirled in. It is like Prozac in dairy form! After a few bites of this stuff, I was asking myself, “Mr. Nasty Crazy-Eyes who?”.
I started with the French-style vanilla ice cream recipe in David’s book, The Perfect Scoop. From there, I played around with different measurements and ingredients and ended up with what I think is the ultimate ice cream indulgence. I hope you like it. If not…..more for me!
Brown Sugar Toffee Ice Cream with Dulce de Leche Swirl
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 generous pinch sea salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split with the seeds scraped out
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2-1 cup toffee bits (according to your taste)
- 1 cup dulce de leche
- Heat the milk, 1 cup of the cream, salt, and both sugars in a saucepan. Add the vanilla bean seeds and pod to the mixture. Cover the saucepan and let steep for about 30 minutes.
- Pour the rest of the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. Set aside,
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks together and slowly pour in the warmed milk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the contents back into the pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula until the custard thickens. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Put the vanilla bean back into the custard and cream. Stir in the vanilla extract and chill thoroughly.
- When chilled remove the vanilla bean and freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.
- During the last few minutes of churning, add the toffee bits to the ice cream so that they can be evenly distributed.
- Whisk the dulce de leche in a small bowl. When the ice cream is finished churning, pour it into a freezable container, alternating scoops of ice cream with scoops of dulce de leche. Gently swirl ice cream mixture a few times to mix things up.
- Freeze to desired consistency.