Making a Memory by Michael De Rosa

The probability of any two people getting together is as astronomical as winning the lottery. Yet, most of us have won this lottery at least once in our lifetime. If you have, your family and friends have asked, “How did you two meet?”   

We were graduate students, she in the humanities, and I in the sciences. We came to the City University of New York’s Graduate Center in mid-town Manhattan for lectures three days a week. We both looked forward to taking a break from classes by going to an old-time ice cream parlor nearby. Today we would say it was retro. Then it was among the last of its kind.    

Brightly lit, the floor in large black and white tiles, stools along a marble counter, facing a glass mirror, directly in front of the taps for dispensing sodas attended by soda jerks. Almost all of them were young men wearing white shirts and hats. On the counter, large round glass jars with syrups in a kaleidoscope of colors, topped with metal lids, ladle inside at the ready. There were wrought iron tables with glass tops with not too comfortable heavy iron chairs. Against the wall, wooden booths, with seats of upholstered red leather, now cracked with age and wear. Attending customers were a bevy of aproned young waitresses in their starched white uniforms.   

But what we came in for was in refrigerated cases filled with the store’s homemade ice cream, rotating flavors displayed on the glass mirror. Both of us, in a hurry, headed straight to the ice cream counter to get our ice cream cones and walk quickly back to class. Neither of us noticed the other until we selected our flavors. I ordered pistachio and chocolate raspberry on a sugar cone, and hers was vanilla almond and limoncello on a waffle cone. Then, intrigued by what we heard, we turned in unison to check out the other’s order — our cones smushing together with a soft plop.   

Disaster. A quick-thinking soda jerk grabbed a large cup and put in all four scoops. We watched in mock horror as the ice cream balls started to melt, flavors and colors running together.  

Sitting down, we looked at the mess and, after quick introductions, went with the saying, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” We would not let excellent ice cream and our money go to waste. She took a large metal spoon and stirred all the scoops until we had something that she said looked mauve. Diving it, we tucked into it before it melted, decided it tasted great and called it Mauvine — it was to become our flavor.  

We hit it off and exchanged phone numbers as we ate and chatted. Then and there, we decided to come back the next time we had class. Unfortunately, both of us were late for class.  


At first, we would get together for a quick ice cream cone, walking and talking as we made our way back and forth to our classes at the Center. Then, we started going earlier for lunch. I was partial to their tuna fish salad made with a hint of lemon juice on a crunchy Kaiser roll, washed down with an egg cream (made from milk, seltzer, and vanilla syrup). She favored liverwurst on rye with mayo and drank cherry lime rickey.  

When one of us had a great day, we would celebrate by ordering the ice creams needed to create Mauvine and eat even more on down days to pick up our spirits. Meeting for ice cream and sandwiches were the perfect antidotes to the stresses of graduate school and our recent breakups. Breakups were discussed and analyzed as if trying to read tealeaves.  

Our romantic histories made us cautious. By unspoken words, intimacy was a hug before we parted ways as we rushed to catch the elevator to take us to class.  

The Graduate Center had a Friday reception for students once a month. We decided to attend and then catch a movie, and afterward, I volunteered to take her home. She reminded me she lived in Canarsie. As a typical Manhattanite, I had no idea of the geography of Brooklyn or the other boroughs. Believing that Canarsie was in lower Manhattan, where streets have names instead of numbers, I said, “sure, no problem.”   

We took a subway train to its last stop from mid-town, where we caught a waiting bus riding it to the end of the line. A bright warm late spring evening — our hands meeting as we took a shortcut through a park on the way to her house.  The bright glow of an illuminated fountain acted as a beacon as we walked. As one, we sat on a bench, watching the coruscating lights of the fountain display as music filled the air.  

Bathed by the colored lights, I asked, “Can I kiss you?” She answered with a smile and brought her lips close to mine. One kiss led to many more. Getting up from the bench, holding my hand, she pulled me gently and led me to the fountain, sitting on its rim, as I sat close by her. Putting her hand in the water, she took it, pressed her wet hand in mine, and whispered, “Let’s make a memory.”  

 Michael De Rosa is a writer from Wallingford, PA, recently retired as a professor (emeritus) of chemistry at Penn State Brandywine. Interests are travel, photography, and birding. The writer published a short non-fiction piece “Boiled in Blood” in Ariel Chart,  a poem “Ten Years Old Again” in Trouvaille Review, and  “Stroke Alert”  a memoir in Potato Soup Journal.