The Search for the Perfect hot Fudge Sundae: Putting It All Together
When I was 27, I ate my first hot fudge sundae. I looked at myself in the mirror, saw myself as overweight, and asked myself what I had been waiting for. My story was that I had gotten fat eating a lot of cottage cheese and pineapple with some sedentary activity as accompaniment. My girlfriend Virginia looked at me with her best face of compassion and asked me if I was sure that I was ready to jump off of that cliff. I assured her I was. We thereafter went to a place called Cookies in Miami where, still ashamed, I proceeded to order a glass of water, while my friend Virginia ordered a pineapple soda as well as a hot fudge sundae. I was so excited to see the hot fudge sundae in full spotlight under those restaurant lights. Unfortunately, my waitress did not have the same anticipation and when she served up the hot fudge sundae, the hot fudge had become cold and the ice cream warm; the whipped cream sagged and so did my spirits.
However, I was not to be thwarted. I thereafter ran to the soda shop across the street, ordered one again and was again disappointed by the quality of the ice cream and fudge. Thereafter, a strange obsession began to brew in me for the perfect hot fudge sundae. I shortly thereafter left Miami and came to live in a commune in Berkeley with eight other New Agey people interested in dissecting the past and hoping for a better future. Now I would like to think that the paucity of good sundaes was not why I left Miami, but in my cynical moments, I wonder. Anyway, Berkeley was a veritable Mecca of good food and great ice cream. My commune mates quickly learned of my obsession as did all my other acquaintances. I’d like to think I spent the better part of my days working and being interested in something other than food, but I have to admit a great part was spent checking out the latest tip from my friends of fabulous hot fudge sundaes. Having exhausted the greater part of Berkeley and San Francisco, I began to feel discouraged.
Then as I turned 27, a monumental time in people’s lives, Saturn return, etc. a new idea popped into my head. Why didn’t I compile all the good things I wanted in the sundae and make my perfect hot fudge sundae? And so I did. I gathered together the creamiest, most organic ice cream (gallons); true real hot fudge to slather upon it, homemade whipped cream with big, plump salty nuts and fat maraschino cherries on top. My most important condition was that the hot fudge had to be very warm and the ice cream totally cold with the expectation that the coming together would have to provide a sort of sizzle. Well, maybe not actually sizzle, but it’s the best I can do. Years later, my guru explained that the feeling of samadhi was similar to feeling very cold and then suddenly stepping into a warm bath. What I was looking for kind of seems similar.
The night of my birthday arrived. All inhabitants of my commune were there to perform the ceremony. Anthony, my beautiful gay boyfriend at the stove heating the hot fudge, my friend Gayle in readiness at the freezer door, waiting to bring forth the ice cream, Harris, the tax collector, whipping the whipped cream, Mertie, dear Mertie, with her bought bag of fresh, aromatic nuts, Tom who had managed to get the fattest maraschino cherries around and Jeanie the crazy psychic who was convinced she should probably perform an exorcism on debauchery.
As the sundae came together, they all gathered around me, waiting for me to ingest this perfection. And that I did. While the “condition” was met, ice cream brilliantly cold and the hot fudge temperature in its “warmest” mode, yet I felt something missing. When I finally looked up from consuming my sundae into the shining eyes of my friends gathered together, happy for me, without judgment for my eccentricity, I began to feel an extraordinary feeling of joy arising in me, similar to what I’ve heard described as a satori experience. (A kind of “I finally get it). I was realizing a momentary fulfillment of my long-term longing for acceptance and love, and that made the “perfect” hot fudge sundae.
As a postscript I never longed for a hot fudge sunder in that same way again. But sometimes when I find myself still searching for perfection or love in myself or others, I have to remind myself of the lesson I learned that night: That it would never come in the fulfillment of some desire or even in the eyes of somebody else. That underneath those desires is a desire for something much more elusive and non-material and that would be, the love and acceptance I felt that night. As I climb into my 68th year, I have also found out that it is not something to be gained or received outside myself but something that is within me if and when I choose to look deeply enough.