A Man And His Ice Cream


I don’t remember what year it was, probably 2005… my old fishing partner Dave Parrillo (he’s moved to Florida now) and I had been struggling for a few weeks fishing the shores of Rhode Island and we were looking for a change. We were getting solid intel from Nauset Beach on Cape Cod and we finally gave in to the temptation and set our sights on a beach we barely knew… on what would turn out to be one of the darkest nights of the year! The day before I had been talking with my longtime friend Alex from high school, he had been working on a charter boat docked in Rock Harbor and asked me to leave a few eel traps and some plugs on the boat—so we decided to kill two birds with one stone.

The weather was nice when we left Dave’s place in Warwick, RI; the sunset was streaming through a curtain of steel blue “Simpsons” clouds as we sped up 95 North. By the time we hit the Canal it was almost dark and the clouds seemed to get thicker as we neared the open Atlantic. Driving down Route 6, our minds raced with a mix of anticipation and questioning; questioning whether or not we could actually pull this off.

As we pulled into the lot at Nauset a hard onshore wind was blowing through the dune grass and small spits of sand were pelting in from the beach. Then it started to rain. We looked at each other with a smirk… Dave smiled and muttered, “Oh, what the #%$&!”

Undaunted, we suited up and set off down the beach hoping the breaking waves would reveal some structure below. Clearly, we should have left three hours sooner so we could eyeball the beach and find something that looked fishy, but I think (hope) that everyone has made a desperation move sometime in their fishing career and allowed the blinding promise of fish to obscure the vision of their common sense long enough to do something stupid.

I won’t draw out the play-by-play of a night that was doomed from the get-go, but we found what we thought was a decent bowl, fished it hard without a touch, moved down to the next one—with bitter winds and needlelike rain drops battling back—fished hard, caught nothing, repeat, repeat… and then Dave blew up his brand new custom rod.

We just shook our heads, but I think we were both happy to have a reason to head back, rather than be “the guy” who couldn’t take it. We headed back to the lot, which turned out to be a challenge in itself since it is hidden behind dunes that look like the rest of the dunes on the beach and it was so dark you could barely make out the horizon over the water. We eventually got back to the truck and laughed at ourselves. It was now around 1 a.m.

We drove north across the Cape toward Rock Harbor, when Dave noticed that we were dangerously low on gas. He again uttered his quote from above. We had to find a gas station, pronto. And with the very real pressure from the fuel light urging us on, we drove aimlessly toward 6A and thankfully, we found a White Hen Gas Station that was still open!

While Dave gassed up, I went inside to find something to quench my nagging sweet tooth, candy bars were not going to cut in on a night such as this. I peered through the glass on one of those sliding-top freezers and spied the perfect remedy—a Biggy Iggy.

For those of you who are not familiar with a Biggy Iggy, it is THE ultimate in packaged, one-handed, ice cream fantasticness. It is two HUGE, chewy, chocolate chip cookies between which gobs of silky-smooth and delicious vanilla soft serve are sandwiched. No, there is no dignified way to eat one. And yes, you automatically feel like Augustus Gloop (google it) when you bite into one as smudges of ice cream and melted chocolate chips festoon your cheeks, lips, chin and nose. Basically you automatically look like a four year old on his birthday—complete with wide eyes and plastic perma-smile.

I hopped back into the truck and endured the anticipated stream of ribbing from Dave, “When you get to be my age you’re going to be ONE FAT BASTARD!” “It looks like you’re REALLY enjoying that, that’s good huh?” “What are you seven!?” “Jesus, are you really going to EAT THAT WHOLE THING!?”On and on… but I barely heard him, all I could hear was the sweet musings of my ice cream as I continued to happily and excitedly devour it.

We arrived at Rock Harbor and I slung the plugs into one of the eel traps and carried them down toward the harbor on one hand while taking bites of my Iggy with the other. If you haven’t been there, Rock Harbor looks like it must have been a small estuary off of Cape Cod Bay that was dredged out and then built up for use as a harbor—something that would never be allowed in this day and age. The environmental impact study alone would probably take half a century! The parking lot butts up to typical wooden dock railings that dress up the top edges of huge rusty walls made out of what looks like corrugated steel on steroids. These walls have been driven into the mud below to keep the surrounding land from filling it in; It’s basically a deep pond surrounded by retaining walls, with a floating dock below.

It was dead low tide, so the water was more than 10 feet below the lot. We located the boat that Alex worked on and descended the rickety stairs to the wooden platform below. There was a single street light about 100 feet to the left of the boat and because of the height of the walls, a strong, black shadow was being cast onto the dock and there were assorted items—coiled rope, fish totes—scattered on the dock as well—a minefield of obstructions. We looked for an out-of-the-way place to put the stuff, we didn’t want to step onto the boat in case the Captain was sleeping on board. I spotted an open spot just to the left of the boat and walked over to set the stuff down. I leaned on a large wooden piling and skirted by some totes to set the trap down, but as I put my left foot down, I felt myself leaning. I had my Biggy Iggy in my left hand and I didn’t want to get it all nasty, so I reached out with my elbow to brace myself against the wall.

My foot continued to go decidedly downward as more of my weight began to pile up behind my elbow, then it began to slide down the steel wall; at roughly that same time I could feel a cool sensation rapidly running up my leg. I was so confused! A split second later, my right leg had folded up like a frog’s leg and my right knee was just about level with eyebrows! The cool sensation had now ridden up past my waistband and was traveling northward—fast! My body, thanks to the laws of leverage, had now layed over, my right foot clunked off the dock, my shoulder met the steel, I twisted and writhed in too-late protest. The cool sensation rapidly closed the gap between my belly button and chin and right before I FINALLY realized that I was falling into the water I looked upward fast and gulped one quick breath of air as my head plunged below the oily, stagnant, disgusting water leaving my hat floating in the ripples.

The water was surprisingly deep! Because I had fallen in such an awkward position my momentum carried me down at least two feet below the surface and I never touched bottom! As I was swimming for the surface, I found that I was having some trouble paddling with my left hand… then it hit me. My ice cream! NOOOOOO!!!! Mercilessly, I let go of my half-eaten treat and burst through the surface to see Dave’s face, right at eye level with mine. He was crouched down on the dock already in position to haul me out. “What the HELL are you DOING!??!” he said in hysterical confusion. I could barely breathe because I was laughing so hard. He grabbed me by the armpits and helped me back onto the dock. I said, “I didn’t do that on purpose! I couldn’t see where the dock ended because of that *&^% shadow!”

Dave just shook his head and said something like, “You’re a @$%# idiot!” I can’t remember a time where I laughed harder. Even as I was standing naked in the parking lot putting on the dry clothes that I, thankfully, brought with me—I could not stop. My whole left forearm and elbow looked like I had done a gainer off a skateboard and stuck the landing directly on my arm, but all I could do was laugh. The whole ride home, we’d laugh until it was quiet and then we’d look at each other and as soon as we made eye contact we’d burst into hysterics again. It was the kind of laughter that hurts—your throat is soar, your sides hurt, you can’t breathe and you can’t stop! There’s no real lesson in this story, but one of the few things in life that you can’t buy, you can’t seek and you can’t replace is an honest to God, true friend. I’ll never forget that night and I hope that one day when Dave is back up here in the Northeast we can go out and have another adventure—whether it ends in success or failure… well, I couldn’t care less.

5 comments on “A Man And His Ice Cream

  1. Philip Desir

    I worked with Dave P. i have never met him personally only chat with him at work and on messenger, he is funny, I can see him using those colorful phrases. He seems to be a good stand up guy.

    He is a friend of mines, whether he knows it or not.

  2. Awesome John

    Thats real life, what we all live from time to time.. there “is” a message in this story and that is emjoy the challenge and enjoy life no matter what comes your way…. I got to get me one of those ice creams 🙂


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