Whitey’s Column (Published Oct 2008)

It finally happened. After almost a month here in England, I finally got homesick. But not for my friends or family, my own bed, the way the QCA smells during the fall, or even the ability to drive places. It was something else, something bigger, something more necessary to my survival.

Whitey’s. Sweet, sweet mother of delicious, do I miss Whitey’s ice cream.

Let me explain. I have been sick for about two weeks. And not just runny-nose sick. I’m talking hard-core, should-have-been-to-the-doctor-a-week-ago, can’t-really-get-out-of-bed sick. I’m currently on three different medications; I haven’t been able to go to class for a week; and I have a cool inhaler that I get to use whenever the coughing gets too bad. (Mom, put down the phone. You do not need to book a ticket here.)

I was really sick; I was hungry; and all I wanted was a big, thick Whitey’s malt. Or milkshake. I didn’t really care at that point. I just wanted to hold that beautiful red-and-white cup with its familiar crystalline insulation in my hand, grab a long white plastic spoon, and know that for the next 10 minutes all would be right with the world. But it was not to be.

England has a definitive lack of decent milkshakes. (Don’t even bother looking for a malt.) No one in town even makes milkshakes except McDonalds, and, well … McDonald’s is not Whitey’s. There is one place that advertises milkshakes on the menu, but when I requested one, I was given a plastic bottle filled with something vaguely resembling Slim-Fast.

This is the big problem here. They sell these “milkshakes” in the stores, and yes, while they taste better than diet drinks, you cannot hold them upside down for 10 minutes. Sub-par, my friends, sub-par.

So I thought I would beat the system. I had heard tell of this amazing milkshake place in Liverpool, where people stand in line for upwards of 30 minutes to experience the deliciousness and pay … well, they pay a lot.

I cracked. I bought a train ticket into Liverpool and found my way to supposed milkshake heaven. (Keep in mind that, at this point, I vaguely looked as if I might die at any moment. I was asked at least four times by the train-ticket guy if I was SURE everything was all right and if he could do anything for me. I assured him, through my 45th coughing fit of the day, that unless he could remove the disease from my lungs, I would have to work it through on my own.) It was also about 38 degrees and raining. This is important to the story.

After lining up (outside) and waiting for about 20 minutes, I got my “shake.” And right there, in the middle of Liverpool, I held my milkshake and cried like a little girl. Why? To give you some sort of idea, picture milk. Got it? Now picture crunched-up Oreos in your milk. That’s what I paid 4 pounds for. I am not exaggerating. It sounds like it, but really, I’m not. Oh, and by the way, that was the equivalent of $8. I would pay $200 for a Whitey’s chocolate malt right now.

I went home, curled up in bed and, for the first time since coming here, was homesick. I tried explaining it to the other Americans, desperately searching for words to explain why I was so upset, but Whitey’s is not something you can really explain. Its an experience that most of my friends here will tragically never have, nor understand. My loyalty to the best ice cream in the world runs deep. (And really, that is not an underestimate. I’ve been trying to find something better all over Europe, and so far I haven’t. Trust me. I don’t mess around when it comes to ice cream.)

Later that night, Abby came home and we played “If You Could Be Eating Anything Right Now, What Would It Be?” Guess what we both said?

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