1. a Republican who refused to support the party nominee, James G. Blaine, in the presidential campaign of 1884.
  2. a person who is unable to make up his or her mind, especially in politics; person who is neutral on a controversial issue.


There’s a problem being someone who’s quickly decisive, especially in my family. I learned this early on in life.

When I was younger and we went out for dessert in the humid summer months, I was the one who ordered the small, soft serve vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone. Strangely enough I–the slowest of eaters, who easily ate my way into a brain freeze– always finished enjoying my standard order while everyone else was still perusing the menu.

Like a mugwump caught in the midst of screaming politicians, the sherbet beckoned for the attention of my little sister, while the cookie dough quietly lured her with promises of joy and pleasure. My little brother always stared down the ice cream, alternating his stares between the rich chocolate and the even richer chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips and fudge. He salivated as he pressed his tiny forehead against the cool glass. Even when he was 16, he still left his handprints against the glass. I seemed to be the only one embarrassed by this.

And my parents were no better. They were awestruck by the gummy worms, chocolate sprinkles, white chocolate chips–the summer the Snowy Cone added shredded coconut as their new topping, I thought I would die of agony, waiting for my family to decide what they wanted.

The strangest thing was that at the end of what felt like an hour-long process of calculated decision making of weighing pros and cons and smacking on slow-churn samples from tiny plastic spoons, the results were always the same. After all that deliberation, my family always came away with the same thing.

From my resting place, perched in a plastic red chair in the corner of the Snowy Cone, I heard what I always heard:

“Yes, we’ll take four waffle cones with the soft serve vanilla, please,” my father would say.  “J, you want anything else?”

I would sit in the corner, shake my head no and rub my temples, perplexed by our weekly ritual.

Now that I’m a parent I can look back and see that I learned important life lesson during those summers.

Lesson one: Family is strange, but enjoyable.

Lesson two: None of my kids get ice cream until they are able to drive themselves to the Snowy Cone.


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