Let’s assume that in any random group of 83 people, half will have at least a normal level of intelligence. And since the humans I was observing one night last weekend were in Portland, Ore., maybe a few more were probably smarter than the average. So why were these people standing, many on the sidewalk, in a very slow-moving line in 31-degree weather waiting to buy ice cream?
The line crawled achingly slowly – at most six feet every 15 minutes – because Portland’s favorite ice cream emporium lets its customers taste the Butter Roasted Chestnuts, the Pear and Blue Cheese, the Bourbon Pecan, Sea Salt with Carmel and 11 other flavors. And I must admit that I was startled by the chutzpa of almost half the people who sampled six or more flavors, oblivious to the scowls of those grumbling in line behind them.
But back to the question of why ice cream on a freezing night.
“Why not?” three people asked me as we stood outside.
“I need the extra calories to keep my blood sugar up,” offered a somewhat stout man.
But the most unexpected answer came from a very intense-sounding young Asian woman who said, “It doesn’t hurt in the winter.”
A guy standing with her added that his friend is plagued by cold-stimulus headache, better known as an ice cream headache or brain freeze.
Cold weather diminishes the chances of that painful ice cream side effect?
“At least that’s what she claims when she drags me over here,” he added.