Of Ice and Men

eight dollar ice cubeCan you tell what is in the foreground of this blurry little image, shining like a diamond? It’s not a real diamond, you know. It is a piece of ice. Not just some run-of-the-mill, made by a cold, inhuman machine kind of ice. It isn’t even technically an iced cube and don’t you dare to call it one. It is, to my eyes at least, the Hope Diamond of frozen liquids. Why? Because it has given me 20 glimmering karats of hope at the end of a rather traumatic afternoon, that’s why.

It is a Gläce ice sphere (US $8.00). Hand carved and smoothed by a genuine, thinking, living, feeling person. And it doesn’t hurt that it happens to be the sexiest ice cube sphere I have ever laid my now-swollen eyes upon. Or arched a carefully-shaped eyebrow over. Just ask any Playboy Bunny. She can tell you a thing or two about sexy ice. Or the need for a stiff drink.

It is also emblematic of why I am finding it so difficult to pay my rent this month. I see sparkly things and simply must have them.

I’m sure my landlord can understand. It’s been a hard month for a lot of people, but especially for me– turning 40 absolutely does things to a person. The body begins to sag in unfortunate places and sprout hair in others. Action must be taken: an injection here, a little waxing there, and everything old is new again.

Or should be.

Never trust an aesthetician who accepts coupons. Or is unable to speak fluent English. Or suffers from pre-operable glaucoma. And never, ever, ever pay up front. Or in cash. It is a mistake I won’t make twice, believe me. What should have been a short, happy trip to the Fountain of Youth (one that might finally help me snag the rich, attractive, available doctor or lawyer that I am positively destined to snag) took a sharp detour into hell. At one point in my day, I thought I might have need of both a doctor and a lawyer. Of course, in my current state, I can no longer afford either of them.

And this is why I am sitting here in the middle of the afternoon, drowning my sorrows in a top shelf cocktail with only a bartender and an $8 piece of ice to console me:

“Should I not be able to feel my mouth like this?” I asked the woman who had recently finished jabbing my lips with a hypodermic needle and had since moved on to the slightly less sensitive area of my soon-to-be-smooth brow. At least that’s what I meant to say. To my great shock, I simply could not move my lips! The words I spoke came out sounding like gibberish. Not unlike my aesthetician, who muttered a string of mostly unintelligible words that sounded like something in the way of a vague apology when she looked closely at her handiwork after re-examining the vials of Botox and collagen she had apparently confused with each other.

“Don’t worry,” she said, “It don’t last long. A couple of weeks.” Apart from her demand to be paid up front, it was the one thing she said that I clearly understood.

That un-American creature botoxed my lips! I slapped my forehead in disbelief only to find the travel time from hand to head had been significantly shortened. Collagen! She then proceeded to click open the garage door of her “office” and motioned for me to leave. I should have know better than to trust any place of beauty business that smells of motor oil. And is completely devoid of mirrors.

I felt a bit nervous being out on the street in such a condition. Was my face hopelessly ruined? Was I now (temporarily, thank God!) some sort of freak? Would I frighten small children? The last part I was more or less fine with, since children typically frighten me, and the evening of such a score was the only solace I could take from my current state of being.

I did what any sensible person would do in this situation: I put on my most dramatic pair of Jackie O sunglasses ($250 from Nina Ricci we share the same birthday, you know. Jackie and I. I don’t know about Nina.) and went for a cautious stroll. I gathered up enough courage to examined my new self in the nearest reflection which, as fortune would have it, was a streak-free plate glass window fronting the Christofle store on Grant Avenue. Christofle! A sign from heaven!

The damage was not as severe as I would have imagined. My forehead had turned into something akin to a fivehead, to be sure, but the sunglasses helped to disguise it. Besides, I thought, I’m a man. The brow-increase might just make me look as though I had extra brain capacity, with room to grow. And the lips? They drooped and were– for the time being– essentially useless, but the overall look was rather French and therefore exotic. I could absolutely make this new look work for me.

I was, however, exhausted and just a tad on edge from my aesthetic experience. With the exception of those directly connected to my lips, every nerve in my body was afire. I needed a drink. A strong one. But how on earth could I get that calming dose of alcohol into my system if I couldn’t even manage to lift my upper lip?

Fortunately, Christofle thinks of everything! Though my speech was a terrible, slurry mess (remember, I did look French, so I managed to pull that off beautifully), I managed to convey my needs to the shop girl by performing what I imagined to be the universal charade clues for the words “drink” and “suck.” She smiled and raised her eyebrows in a way I can no longer manage, disappeared for a moment, and returned with just the thing I needed– not one, but two sterling silver champagne straws from their Fidélio collection ($165 per pair). Two! I took this as a sign from God that, not only was I going to get my much-deserved drink, but that I was about to find that rich man to suck it all down with, to boot!

I didn’t even wait for the girl to wrap my purchase. I headed for the nearest, nicest bar– a restaurant bar; one with leather seats and flattering lighting, naturally– and ordered what any young, handsome, cosmopolitan French-looking man would at two in the afternoon: that’s right, a Cosmo! Not just any Cosmo, mind you, but a Grey Goose Orange Cosmo, because I’m not stupid. Knowing instinctively that Grey Goose is a French vodka, I would have pronounced it oh-rahnzh, had my mouth been cooperative. Instead, I ingeniously wrote my order onto a cocktail napkin with my Mont Blanc Bohème Arabesque Pen (don’t even ask how much that was), making certain that the “n” in Orange look as much like a French “n” as I could without being too obvious.

“I can tell you are a man of,” the bartender paused a moment here, “refined tastes. Perhaps you would like me to chill that down with the most beautiful, hand crafted ice that money can buy?”

The most beautiful ice money can buy? How could I refuse? Especially since, if I played my cards right, I would end up having another, richer man buying me round after round of luxury cocktails. I needed to be pampered. I needed to be taken care of. I needed that ice! However, given my current inability to register any sort of emotion other than pouting disappointment on my face, I must have looked somewhat nonplussed, so the bartender added:

“According to their product page, ‘The presence of minerals, additives and other pollutants found in artesian sources may contaminate the taste on premium liquors and drinks. That is why Gläce is made with purified water to ensure its tasteless quality.'”

I was livid at the thought that, for all these years, my premium liquors were beingcontaminated by additives and pollutants! Just the thought that I was innocentlyputting such horrible things into my body made my forehead bulge with rage. Though at the moment not fully able, I was both ready and willing to pay for premium ice. At that point I was willing to pay anything for tasteless quality.

He then asked for my patience as he removed a piece of that gorgeous 2.5′ diameterice of crystalized, purified water from its elegant packaging and lowered it into my martini glass, stating that the ice “sphere” must be “aged” for a period of three to four minutes to “acclimate to room temperature and cause a frost to form on the surface.”

The bartender, sensitive to my needs as all good ones are, saw the alarm registering upon my face. How he managed to do so under the circumstances is a testament to his subtle powers of observation. He then said, “Of course, if you don’t want to wait that long (and who in his right mind would, after a day like I’dhad?), I could just pour your drink over it right now.”

I sat for a brief moment looking at that beautiful orb of frozen water shining up at me like like a diamond. It was then that I christened my particular sphere the “Hope Diamond,” which was, apart from the Koh-i-Noor, the biggest, most beautiful diamond I could think of. So what if the Hope diamond is blue. So is water, which is what the damned ice cube sphere is made of. So what if the Hope diamond is famously cursed. Look at Liz Taylor! She once owned the thing and shewon two Oscars! And had 127 husbands! Apart from all that has happened to me today, I am feeling lucky. I am positively filled with hope. Especially since a rather handsome gentleman in an expensive-looking suit has just seated himself at the bar, just across from me.

I gave the the bartender the international hand sign for “Just pour me the fucking drink.”

As he poured, he said, “Just see what happens now…. watch the ice ‘crackle’ and ‘spider’ but not fall apart!” I wish to God he had warned me. My beautiful diamond crackled and spidered! I loathe flaws of any kind. Especially crackles, which are precisely what got me into this particular situation in the first place. My lovely Hope diamond was now hopelessly ruined, worthless.

Or was it? Earlier that afternoon, I had thought my beautiful-but-(slightly)-aging face was ruined, but I survived! I was strong. I realized that if I could make an outsized brow and paralytic lips work in my favor, than I could make this expensive, “spidered” chunk of ice work to my advantage. Like me, it hadn’t broken apart– it was still doing what it was meant to do and I was doing the same!

I pulled a Christofle champagne straw from my Jack Spade Crown Twill Haversack messenger bag ($365). As I placed one end of the straw into the martini glass, I playfully nudged the ice about. I then lowered myself seductively towards the cocktail and carefully slipped the other end of the straw between my lips. It was then that I noticed the handsome man in the suit watching me. He smiled. If I didn’t know any better, I might even say he looked shocked.

My plan was working!

“Sterling silver champagne straws are sexy,” I thought to myself. “Luxury ice is sexy. I am sexy. Now get to work!.” I sucked at the straw a little harder, hoping to fill myself with a bit of extra liquid courage before making my next move.

I motioned the bartender towards me and, with a flick of my head in the direction of the suited man, I indicated that I would like to buy him a drink. Then by giving my head a sharp dip towards my glass, I signaled that I should very much like his drink to be cooled by a hunk of $8 ice. I complimented myself on having the forethought to remove the straw from my mouth before making that last gesture.

And then, slowly and seductively, I reached back into my bag, gently placed the second straw on the bar, and playfully patted the bar stool next to me. Who in their right mind could refuse an offer like that? I would have smiled at him if that were at all possible but, knowing full well how absolutely French I looked, I was full of hope that the next round of drinks was going to be on him. If I played my cards right, he might just pick up the whole tab.

Or even pay off my landlord.

If he sits next to me, I won’t speak a word, but only because I can’t. Instead, I will subtly mime to the bartender that I would like him to repeat his story about the Gläce spheres. If I could speak with any sort of clarity at all, I would certainly do so myself, alluding to my own, special tasteless qualities. The ones that allow me to enhance the specialness of other, richer men without diluting or polluting their strength or unique character. I’m good like that, you know.

Fortunately, I’m very good with my hands. More than once they have been called “expressive” and “artistic”. I’ll just maneuver that big hunk of ice around my glass and mesmerize him with my technique. I don’t need words to prove to anyone I’m tasteless. He’ll get the picture.

And the bar tab.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Of course, none of this is true. Except for the ice. The ice is real. I just couldn’t think who would be stupid enough to buy an $8 piece of frozen water, hand-crafted or no. So I decided to become someone stupid enough to do so. I thought about all those creepy men and women who come to roost on the barstools at my place of work night after night– the plumped-up women, the obnoxious men– all money talk and air kisses. They would be stupid (and rich) enough to buy and $8 ice cube sphere. So I decided to pretend I was one of them.

Then I immediately took a shower to scrub the “eew” off.

I think I might need a vacation.

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9 Responses to Of Ice and Men

  1. jodi says:


    And here I was admiring you for overcoming your plumped-up, unmovable lips and moving your ice sphere around in a sexy provocative way. 🙂

  2. roy says:

    hrmmm…is it libelous to say that doctors and lawyers are only attractive to stupid botoxed $8-a-piece ice purchasers.

  3. Sylvia says:

    Am I incredibly naive for believing the story? It doesn’t really matter because I loved it.

  4. michaelprocopio says:

    Jodi– Fortunately, God blessed me with naturally full lips, so there is no need for enhancement.

    Roy– If it’s true, it isn’t libel.

    Sylvia– I’m very glad you liked it. If you were naive, then so was nearly everyone else. One of my closest friends called me up to ask if any of this really happened to me. I thought, “Oh crap. if people who have known me for 20 years would think any of it was true, what the hell are my readers who have never laid eyes on me going to think?”

    It did sort of get me excited when a commenter over at KQED called me a “shallow, insufferable jerk.” In a perverse way, I take that as a compliment because that is precisely what I was going for.

  5. Nicky D. says:

    That is a sign of the apocalypse. It makes me want to stab myself.

  6. michaelprocopio says:

    Precisely what do you consider an Apocalyptic sign– the ice or this fictional version of myself?

  7. Nicky D. says:

    Ice, ice, baby.
    Not to be confused with the Tar Baby.

  8. plainjane says:

    Michael P.,
    There are Procopios in my dh’s family, and they were all born with silver spoons in their mouths, but no champagne straws…oh drat, married into the wrong line.

  9. That is why Gläce is made with purified water to ensure its tasteless quality.

    This killed me, as did the realization that I would happily buy an $8 ice sphere just because I like round things.

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