Sunday, September 19, 2010

How to Succeed in Bargains Without Really Trying

Today was a glorious day.

First, I went to church, where the always-enjoyable Tim Keller preached, and an extraordinarily attractive, former professional surfer (who had somehow found his way to Manhattan) shared his testimony. I'm just saying he looked GREAT in business casual.

After church I went to college group (Jesus and free lunch - what a win!), and then walked around Manhattan on a warm autumn day (the kind of day that people who don't live in Manhattan call "Indian Summer,") until I got to the theatre. I was about 45 minutes early, which was great, because I was doing "20 at 20" with a friend. This is a magical deal where you get to see an Off-Broadway show for $20 if you buy your ticket 20 minutes before showtime (due to lines, however, getting there more than 20 minutes early is advisable). My friend and I saw the highly stylized, slapstick-y, "The 39 Steps," and left feeling rather happy.

I convinced her to go to dinner in Hell's Kitchen with me, where we shared a spicy penne with chicken in a tomato-cream sauce with white beans and some other veggies, and the "quesadilla of the day" - chicken and portobello mushroom. Omnom. Liking this friend a lot, and feeling bad for keeping her away from her homework longer than she had planned, I offered to buy her dessert. Out of all the glorious places available to us, she picked an ice cream truck.

For those of you unfamiliar with the touristy sections of Manhattan, there are ice cream trucks that sell soft-serve ice cream concoctions on many street corners (often near the ubiquitous halal carts). At first, these seem novel. Then strange. Then you quit noticing them until your friend wants a "baby rattle" from one (an ice cream cone covered in half chocolate jimmies, half rainbow sprinkles).

So, we walked over to the nearest ice cream truck, and waited for the people ahead of us to finish. Allegedly the 30-something, probably-middle-eastern-but-I'm-not-really-sure guy working in the ice cream truck asked if my friend and I were sisters, and I said yes. I think I thought he asked us if we wanted ice cream. But maybe I've just started saying "yes" whenever people pause while talking to me (probably a bad policy).

Anyway, I ordered for my friend, and the guy looked at us a little strangely. "Is that all you want?" he asked. "Yep!" I said. I was full, I had ice cream in my freezer, I was a little underwhelmed by the variety of sprinkles-and-soft-serve combinations. For once in my life, I really wasn't planning on getting dessert.

Getting my friend's ice cream, he then asked me what I did ("I'm a student," I said), what I was studying ("Um, mostly politics,") and if I was going to work for "Mike" (at the time I gave a nervous laugh and said, "Well, maybe!" In retrospect I think he was talking about Michael Bloomberg, for whom I will most likely not work). By this time, he had given my friend her "baby rattle" and I was starting to pay, when he asked again, "Are you sure you don't want anything else?"

This is the point in the story when I realize that I have much more of a cunning, impish streak than most people. As I handed over my money, I replied "Well, not unless you want to throw in something on the house." For my regular readers, you should know that I wasn't treating this as a low-risk environment in which to practice flirting (see post 1). I wasn't winking, I wasn't twirling my hair, I wasn't puckering my lips. My voice hadn't gotten higher, my skirt hadn't gotten shorter, nothing. But the man in the ice cream truck said, "Sure! You're very convincing. What do you want? How could I say no?"

I was caught completely off-guard. I guess today was my day to be effortlessly persuasive. So, I quickly looked at the sign, and ordered a vanilla ice cream on a sugar cone, said thanks, and walked away with my friend. It was actually surprisingly good soft serve, and I always enjoy a sugar cone.

I guess the moral of this story is as many times as you have to argue with three people in a pizza place to get the special, sometimes you find the right ice cream truck. No flirting necessary.

I got free ice cream (and saw a show and ate dinner) in:
Grayish pencil skirt, brown ribbed tank top, periwinkle short-sleeved sweater with oversized safety pin, silver hoops with green crocheted detailing, multicolored flower ring, and giraffe wedges with turquoise piping.

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