Earlier this week, I went into Lakeside Dining at my usual dinner time, around 5:30 pm. A smile began to form at the corners of my lips as I thought in advance about what I was going to have for dessert: vanilla-flavored soft-serve ice cream with a topping of chocolate chips. It was the same thing I had at every dinner, except for the nights they were out of vanilla and I was forced to settle for chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips.
To my dismay, I found the following sign plastered onto the machine: Soft serve machine is out of order. Sorry for the inconvenience. Lakeside Dining Team.
It’s not a big deal, I told myself, trying to shake it off. I know it’s trivial, but I swear I felt my stomach drop a little bit. Okay, a lot.
Ever since NSO when I saw someone with a soft-serve ice cream cone in my dining hall, I’ve had it almost every day. Until the machine broke this week, I didn’t know how big of a role something as trifling as ice cream could play in my day-to-day life.
At first, having ice cream was strictly for gustatory pleasure. They say to take advantage of all of the opportunities on campus while you can. I say that includes getting soft-serve ice cream. Then, it became more a habit – a daily tradition, even – to get ice cream after dinner.
I’ve always thought it was beneficial to have something to look forward to – not something far-fetched or a long ways away, like Christmas or getting to go home to see your dog. Instead, something small, tangible and easily accessible, like getting into bed after a busy day of writing papers or taking a hot shower after being outside in the cold.
For me, that small thing to look forward to every day is the soft-serve ice cream at Lakeside — with chocolate chips, of course. For some friends in my dorm, it’s having Lucky Charms cereal for dessert, or taking a refreshing walk around Lake Lag, or listening to their favorite song from Mulan once a day. We all need our “thing” that gets us through this crazy world, one day at a time.
I have soft-serve ice cream to thank for being my thing. And as the saying goes, it really is the little things that count.
Contact Angie Lee at angielee ‘at’ stanford.edu.