Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Just ice

I have always been an ice chewer. It seemed like I was always thirsty; I could slug down a glass of water or soda quickly, and then would chomp on the ice. I loved going to Straw Hat Pizza just because they had crushed ice in their sodas. Give me a little root beer, and lots of ice. In fact, give me just ice.

Sometimes when I was a kid I would sleep over at friends' houses and discover that they had those refrigerators that dispensed ice from the door, crushed. I would find a way to get endless glasses of ice, sneaking into the kitchen over and over.

Much later, when I was working at a theater in Montana, I became friends with one of the directors. He hated the sound of someone chewing ice. Hated. It. To him it was like nails on a chalkboard. I was so addicted to the behavior that I would do it without even thinking. He found that the only way to stop me was by letting out a blood curdling shriek at an impossibly high pitch, like the aliens in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." He would do it full voice without embarrassment in the middle of a restaurant.

Me: Slurrrrrrp. (pause) Chomp. Chomp.


Me: Jesus! Sorry.

During the days when I hung out in bars (hi Mom), people often used my ice chomping as a way to, uh, get to know me better.

Me: Chomp. Chomp.

Random person: You know what chewing ice means, dontcha?

Me: Chomp. No, what? Chomp.

Random person: It means you're, heh heh, sexually frustrated.

Me: Chomp. Chomp. No, I don't think so.

I always used to hear that it would destroy my teeth. I scoffed at this. At least I did until last year when one of my teeth split in two and had to be yanked out. I blame that on some sort of seed, not on ice. Delicious, delicious ice.

I always wanted a Sno-Cone machine, too. There were the kind where you put an ice cube in a plastic snowman's stomach; there was the kind that looked like Snoopy's doghouse; there was the "ice bird" which basically had a blade on the bottom which made shavings as you slid it across a block of ice. I lusted after them with my eight-year-old soul.

Somehow I never ended up with any of those contraptions, although we did have these cups that made slushes. The cups were in two parts: a white plastic liner that was filled with some sort of antifreeze-like substance, and a colored plastic outer part, with the handle and all. The white part went in the freezer; you took it out, put it in the outer cup, poured juice, soda or Kool-Aid into it, and then hacked away at the liquid as it froze. Eventually some of the antifreeze type stuff leaked through the plastic liner, which was weakened by vicious attacks with a kitchen spoon. The antifreeze didn't taste too good.

Of course, if I was using Kool-Aid to freeze, it had a pretty bizarre taste to begin with. My mother (hi Mom) was a pretty staunch about not feeding us too much sugar, fairly remarkable in the 70s. Of course, we begged for Kool-Aid, so she would get the kind in the small packet that you were supposed to add sugar to. She would add liquid saccharin. Yum!

It had that strange, plastic-y, chemical-ly taste that kids just love. It was the taste of "sweet" as interpreted by aliens who had never tasted anything sweet. It was ... ok, disgusting.

Our friends would come over and ask for Kool-Aid. At our house, they only asked once. Then they learned.

With Kool-Aid a treacherous substance (I look like candy, but I taste like bleach!), maybe it was no wonder that I turned to ice. Ice was just ... ice. Cool and crunchy and thirst quenching. And in the desert, I was always thirsty.

Postscript: When I thought to write about this delightful habit of mine, I did a little Googling to see what charming links I might add. Imagine my surprise when I found out that compulsive ice chewing is a common symptom of iron deficiency, or sometimes zinc deficiency. This behavior (eating non-food substances) is apparently called pica, and the particular craving for ice is pagophagia. Who knew? Why didn't anyone ever tell me that?

Me: Chomp. Chomp.

Random person: You know what chewing ice means, dontcha?

Me: Chomp. No, what? Chomp.

Random person: You're into, heh heh ... pagophagia. Heh, heh.

Me: Chomp. Chomp. No, I don't think so. Freak.

Apparently sometimes people who chew ice also chew paper. I never really did that. Well, maybe a little.

I don't chew ice as much anymore. Part of it is a conscious effort, after the Tooth Explosion of 2004. Or maybe I'm finally getting enough iron. Or maybe ... mmm excuse me just a sec...



Blogger Broadsheet said...

You ate paste in grade school too - didn't you? Come one now, admit it!

2:50 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Karen does that with hard candy, which she totally doesn't understand the concept of. I think, when you and David and Karen and I go out to dinner, there will be a lot of secret head shaking between David and me.

Of course, I have the most bizarre secret of all. When I was maybe four, I had this "is it edible or not?" phase. I remember eating several pieces of kleenex in bed one night, then awaking my my mom to tell her I had a stomach ache. Just call me Dr Science.

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Googled chewing ice and found this quote "Chewing ice does nothing to your fertility, just your teeth".

Guess you're a "pica-chew". ba-doom shh!

5:32 AM  
Blogger jwer said...

Meanwhile, in my role as Pedantic Man, I'd like to point out that the amount of water consumed by your body in heating ice to body temperature is actually GREATER than the amount of water in the ice itself, which is why if you are thirsty and eat snow, you will surely die. Um, eventually. Assuming you're not just outside the house, that is. So. Am I still talking? How embarrassing...

6:04 AM  
Blogger David said...

The funny thing is, I never even noticed a single ice chew in our entire time together. But then again, my mother has chewed ice my entire life, as well (much to my dental-hygeinist aunt's consternation), so maybe I'm desensitized.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Hanuman1960 said...

My best friend does that as well. I had always heard that it'll take the enamel right off of your teeth! The whole concept just never appealed to me....

10:53 AM  
Blogger M said...

Hi, just passing through and had to say HI! to a fellow ice chewer. I once had a dentist stare at me fascinated because he never met anyone with Pica, and yet with a smile of awe on his face and a nod he says, "I'll be seeing you soon!" Two years later I had my own "tooth explosion" but on (of all things) a pork chop.


11:20 AM  
Blogger Nan said...

I had one of those Snoopy doghouse sno cone machines when i was a kid. It sucked. The ice would melt before you could get enough in a cup to really enjoy a good sno cone like the guys with the wooden carts would make. They had a big block of ice and a really cool metal shaver to fill the cone. The bottles of colored sugarwater would rattle and announce their arrival a block away.

If I still had the snoopy sno cone maker I would ship it to you.

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well now you're getting at least six Sno-Cone machines for your next birthday. Better ask for gift receipts.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cursed! That last one was from me.


3:25 PM  
Blogger Crash said...

I chew ice, too. But I fall into that 'sexually frustrated' category.

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This summer we're going out for Baltimore snow cones - with vanilla ice cream AND marshmallow whip!


10:33 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

This summer we're going out for Baltimore snow cones - with vanilla ice cream AND marshmallow whip!


10:34 PM  

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