Even now I can see you lounging there in Lenoir or on Franklin or in some coffee shop, sitting down to read your newspaper before class, casually flipping through its pages with your snack or drink hanging loosely from your hand, not a care in the world. But you don’t even realize the luxury that you bathe in day after day.
It is a luxury that, ironically enough, can be found in your very cup on any date, at any time — it happens when water is frozen into solid form, most commonly a cube shape, though there is growing support for crushed shards.
Intellectuals refer to this phenomenon as “ice.”
Most people have heard of it, or at least make use of it on a regular basis by pressing their cups up against that shiny lever right in the middle of all those fountain drinks. Some go as far as to associate it with “coldness.”
But very few people I have met hold a true respect for ice. They take it for granted.
Some of you are probably snorting at my words right now; you think I must be making some ill-fated attempt at a joke, or more likely that I’m just flat out crazy. But if my travels in Europe have taught me a single thing thus far, it has been this: Ice, or cold drinks at all, are a privilege, a privilege that most Americans never acknowledge.
Repent now, for I have seen the error of my ways! I have dragged my tired body through Italy for almost 10 days now, dry-mouthed and lethargic, the curtain of my pampered American naivety drawn mercilessly from my eyes.
The first time I walked into a European restaurant, I opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle, and my world turned upside down — this Coke wasn’t cold!
I tried to think rationally. It must be a coincidence, I told myself. I had picked my bottle from the front. In the back the drinks must be colder!
So I slid that anomaly back into its place and reached further back, grasping another candidate and bringing it out into fresh air. But alas, this drink was just as lukewarm as the last one had been!
Unable to quite wrap my mind around what was happening and feeling quite dizzy from the heat, I clutched the counter and asked the bar for a glass of Coke. Surely, they couldn’t screw that up, their refrigerator must be broken. And then there is was — a glass filled to the brim with Coke, but no ice!
As it turns out, what happened to me on that day happens to countless traveling Americans, spoiled into delusions of grandeur, delusions of ice all around the world. News flash: Ice is hard to come by, and rarely even mentioned, in Europe.
Even now, my insides quake for a nice, ice-rich soda. But the pain is hollow, because I know that such dreams are far away.
For those out there who do not heed my words, the message I carry is bitter: If you do not honor that ice while you have it, you will only miss it all the more when there is none to spare.
I now wince into an unforgiving sun, hoping beyond hope that my message falls upon attentive ears. The next time you order an ice-cold drink, take a moment to appreciate the luxuries we have here in the United States that are unavailable around much of the world.
And, what’s more, take a moment to think of those who cannot afford the other luxuries that you indulge in every single day.
Tim Freer is a junior journalism major from Asheville. Contact him at email@example.com.