I take my duties as a journalist very seriously. One of my inspirations in the industry includes New York Times war correspondent C.J. Chivers, who risked his life to unearth Spain’s sordid involvement in Libyan president Muammar Qaddafi’s civil war against his own nation. So, in honor of the fearlessness he and countless others before me have demonstrated, I present the real-time account of the day I first had Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream.
My alarm blares, signaling not only the start of a new day but a new me—a wide-eyed Richie who by morning’s end will feel even stronger, more clear-minded, and with 100 percent more vegan Ben & Jerry’s in my life.
I start to panic. In the morning light of my long weekend, I realize that I didn’t thoroughly plan my day. Do I have enough time to take a shower? Brush my teeth? Change out of my pajamas? My chest begins to tighten as I think about how I’ve already ruined my chances at a creamy, decadent morning scoop of almond milky goodness.
I calm down, realizing that an hour and a half is more than enough time to get downstairs and across the one block that separates me from the Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop opening at 11am. I stop sweating.
After an invigorating shower in which I wake my roommates due to my elated singing, I face another challenge: what to wear? Do I give a nod to Chunky Monkey’s banana-flavored ice cream with my favorite yellow t-shirt? Pay homage to the chocolate sandwich cookies in PB & Cookies with a black-and-white striped ensemble? An increasingly harried voice in the back of my mind reminds me that the clock is ticking. A Cal sweatshirt it is.
I rush down the stairs of my apartment building and whir past the ‘50s diner-themed Saturn Café and the customizable vegan cinnamon buns at Cinnaholic. This urban stretch in Berkeley, CA is, as VegNews Publisher Colleen Holland puts it, the greatest block in America—made even greater today, now that vegan Ben & Jerry’s has arrived.
I round the corner, silently praying not to see a Black Friday-style line snaking down the block, but wholly prepared for it—I will throw some elbows for this ice cream. My fear subsides as I see nothing but a calm morning—sunbeams dancing between branches, UC Berkeley students shuffling to campus, a lean, lithe jogger reminding me of the excessive amounts of calories I’m about to consume. I breathe easy again and decide to investigate a rumor that pre-packaged pints of the ice cream would be available in stores before it was in Scoop Shops. If this was true, and my prize had been sitting alone in a chilly box awaiting rescue, I don’t know if I’d be able to recover emotionally.
My search for the elusive pints at a nearby Walgreens is, thankfully, fruitless. As I walk back to the storefront, I consider buying a small ice chest in case Ben & Jerry’s employees will allow me to pay for and wheel away an industrial-sized drum of vegan ice cream. I decide against it.
I’m inexplicably nervous. Pacing, dry-mouthed, and with clammy hands, it’s as if I’m preparing for an important interview or a first date. I feel like I’m starting to lose it as the anticipation piles atop me. Then, a beautiful sight … a Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop employee emerges from the shadows within the store, and my troubles melt away like my ice cream isn’t going to get a chance to.
I try to look casual as the employee opens the door. I dart a few feet away from the store, out of sight, and nonchalantly walk by again a few moments later, coolly glancing over, feigning a mildly surprised look and shrug that says, “Oh, Ben & Jerry’s? I forgot this place existed. It’s .08 seconds past 11am, as good of a time as any for a scoopy scoop—why not check it out?”
The sun feels a little warmer, the air a little cleaner. Colors are more vivid, and I feel lighter—more alert and happy. My hair and nails have a new sheen. I can sense tensions ease in the Middle East. In a shocking turn of events, scoops were revealed to not be available just yet, but pints were aplenty. Nonetheless, all is right in the world now that I have in my possession creamy vanilla ice cream studded with Oreo-esque cookies and rivulets of crunchy peanut butter ribbons. I whisk it away to my apartment, dig in, and sigh. It is exactly what I’ve dreamed of the past six years of my vegan journey, and I now, for the first time in a long time, have hope for a brighter tomorrow.
Richard Bowie is an editorial assistant at VegNews.