The Great American Melting... Ice Cream Sundae
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Politics and Activism

The Great American Melting... Ice Cream Sundae

How people-watching over ice cream changed my perspective on the demographic shift in in United States.

The Great American Melting... Ice Cream Sundae

I love ice cream, especially when it involves dark chocolate. So when I heard that the Outlet Shoppes over in Simpsonville, KY, had a Ghirardelli store, I made it a priority to eat there whenever the weather, money, time and now antique truck all cooperated (a rare occurrence). So during the April warm spell, I waltzed up stag to the counter and asked for the Midnight Reverie. Oh, man, if you love dark chocolate and don't care about the calories, then this treat is for you. Anyway, as I sat there waiting, I did something a little unorthodox: I put my phone down and turned my other senses back on. Of course, the smell of chocolate dominated my nose, but I started to look around, noticing all the patrons inside and the numerous shoppers walking past the window. I already felt a little down due to musing too long about our aging population and weak economy, and a loud, bustling ice cream parlor at first only intensified my grumpiness.

In this Ghirardelli shop in the outlet mall, I almost felt out of place. I heard at least six different languages spoken and numerous different countries represented. Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, French, Korean and I could have sworn Farsi were all spoken in the shop! Fast talking Latinas with kids in tow hurried past the window as a Portuguese family with a Russian nanny sat to the table on my left while an Iranian couple stood stoically in line. This diverse crowd seemed unified only by a love for ice cream.

Now, I come from a quiet, conservative, middle class family back in Georgia. I attended a private school for both college and high school, where diversity meant that the suburbanites recoiled when the rednecks showed up. In other words, I'm not really used to large crowds of non-white Americans. As the languages blurred together into a cacophony in the confectionery, my eyes took over, noticing that few people wore "traditional" clothing (the exception was the Portuguese family, all sporting some futbol league jersey). Shaking my head at my own ignorance (seriously, what did I expect people to wear? Burkas? Kimonos? Sombreros?), I remembered one of those old songs from Schoolhouse Rock: the Great American Melting Pot. From childhood, both parents and teachers taught me how America is a "land of immigrants" and is a "melting pot" of multiple cultures, but I just then realized what it looked like. And you know what? It was kinda awesome.

After hearing countless times that non-white Americans will shape America's economic, political and cultural future as the white population ages, I got a first hand glimpse of what that future will look like. And it looks like pretty much the same America I have known for my twenty-two years, just with more color and culture. Consumer based and middle class dominated, this little shop just became the poster boy for the American Dream and the epitome of the phrase "the land of opportunity." Scores of people just in this outlet mall all came to this country to start anew, while scoring on some amazing ice cream. If this doesn't embody the American Dream, I don't know what will. And if someone in American realizes the American Dream, well, that makes them, by definition, Americans. This realization made my treat even sweeter, and I no longer worried about the calorie count as my new-found confidence in America welled up the pride in my nation... or maybe it was my body telling me to lay off the chocolate.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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