March 13, 2013. To most Americans this is just another day. To a kid on the Vineyard, it might as well be Christmas. Except there’s no eggnog on the menu today. There are, however, a plethora of frozen delicacies. Soft-serve frozen yogurt, fruit smoothies and, of course, the almighty Blizzard. Yes, ladies and gentleman, today is the day that Dairy Queen is officially open for business.
“It’s going to be crazy,” Emily told me as I turned right out of the parking lot of the Edgartown School on one of the first sunny afternoons we’d seen in months. “Last year, a girl passed out running from the high school,” Emily added.
I couldn’t help but think, all this for a mediocre fast-food chain? As we drove closer and closer to the royal throne of frozen treats, we parted a sea of schoolchildren making this sacred annual pilgrimage. The travelers were as variegated as the flavors and toppings of the ice cream they were about to consume: clusters of adolescents exuding awkwardness and raging hormones, wide-eyed youngsters racing to the finish line, high school experts with their too-cool-for-school (but not for Dairy Queen) attitudes. All of them shared one thing, the belief that partaking in this annual right of passage is worth an hour-long wait in a line that culminates in frozen bliss.
Waiting in the Dairy Queen line not only cultivates patience among our Island’s youth. It also has the power to turn them into shrewd entrepreneurs, dare I say con artists. These future venture capitalists of America seize the opportunity to make a profit off of those who allow their craving to overcome their good judgement. Case in point. Sally buys a Blizzard from Billy for twice the regular price if it means she doesn’t have to wait in line. Manipulative or genius, you be the judge.
So what is this day all about anyway? Do kids really like ice cream that much? Is Dairy Queen some kind of reminder of mainland, industrial food culture in the fast food barren of Martha’s Vineyard? Or is it even more than that? Are we really celebrating more than the resurrection of Blizzards and Dilly Bars? Or are we in fact rejoicing for the end of a bitter, brutal winter and for the hope of renewal and revival.
Spring is in sight!