Yesterday our life group went for a leisurely hike through some trails in Fairmount Park, to take advantage of the small window of sunshine and warm air we had. After walking, running, climbing, jumping, fording streams, and your other run-of-the-mill hiking action verbs, we rewarded ourselves with a trip to Rita's.
While Adam, Anne, Amy and I (the only loser without an "A" name) were waiting in line, we saw a little girl drop her custard/gelati to the pavement of the parking lot near her family's SUV. Correction: we didn't see that part--we first heard the shrieking and wailing, then we saw her custard on the ground, and her empty cup, and being college-educated folk we put the clues together.
We all empathized. Out loud, too.
"Aw, poor girl." "Ah, man, that's so rough." "I remember when I did that once when I was a kid, just before leaving the place."
The whole time I was thinking, Hey. Go over there and tell her mom you want to buy her a new cup of ice cream. Well, custard, technically--Rita's doesn't really sell ice cream. Just water ice, and custard, and water ice and custard together in a marvelous concoction called a gelati. But yes. Buy her an ice cream. You're almost up in line, so the mom wouldn't have to wait for another fifteen minutes to get it. Go talk to them.
And I really wanted to, but I kept wondering if the mom would refuse...maybe the mom was stubborn or maybe the mom was mean, and then maybe the girl would hear me offer to buy another one and she would light up and say, "Yay, mommy, yay!!" and the mom would say, "Get in this car right now, you're not getting another one!" and then the girl would be so devastated and bitter with her parents that she'd go on to join a traveling circus to spite her parents' dreams of her becoming a world-class flutist.
As the monologue in my head grew increasingly detached from logic, the mother had cleaned the girl up, buckled her up, and drove away. It was only a little girl, and only a three-dollar cup of gelati, but my heart sank a little because I felt like I missed a really wonderful opportunity, and I felt like that I had let someone down. Let down that girl, or maybe her parents, or myself, or God, or maybe all of those.
And then I thought about how ridiculous a person I am. At the drop of a hat, I will run up to a railing on a bridge overhanging a river and walk across the railing, or I'll go climb a cliff or a tree that I may not be able to get back down from, or I'll jump off some slippery cliff into a tiny pool of water below. But I can't even walk up to a little girl and her mom and offer to buy them a gelati. Because the mom might say no.
That is pretty lame, and there's no way around it.
I hope I can get another opportunity soon.