Welcome to “[I Don’t] Love [You Anymore] Letters from New York,” in which I try to show my friends and loved ones who are burned out by New York City living that there’s still a lot here worth staying for, and ultimately learn that I’m fighting a losing battle. In this first installment, I’m working on convincing my friend Kate, who’s very seriously threatening a move to Boston at the end of the summer, to stay in New York City because we have the best lactose this side of the Mason-Dixon Line. Will she be convinced, or will I have to keep trying? Hold onto your toilet seats, because this is gonna be a wild journey of self discovery.
Being a big fan of their Salty Pimp ice cream cone and their social media presence in general, I follow Big Gay Ice Cream on Instagram, which is how I first learned of their Cheat-Ohs ice cream. As the name might suggest, it is in fact Cheet-Ohs flavored ice cream, coated in Cheet-Ohs dust. This misplaced “a” in the name for the cone is for “Ah, okay, I’ll guess I’ll try it.” It might also be to “Avoid copyright infringement and a lawsuit,” who knows. All of the videos on their Instagram of customers taking their first bite, followed by amazement and surprise at how it actually tasted good had me convinced I had to try it before it was taken off their menu. But would it be enough to convince Kate to stay in New York City? There was literally only one way to find out, so I met her and our friend Claire one Sunday afternoon to test out what sounded like a sure fire way to send Kate packing.
We decided on the Big Gay Ice Cream in the East Village, if only so we could get the full New York City experience of sitting in Tompkins Square Park while we ate. I personally think there is not a better distillation of what New York City has to offer than this relatively small park, as you can walk through it under five minutes, see a group of kids playing nicely at the playground, an old woman alone dancing to Whitney Houston, a man sitting at a bench across the path from her silently nodding to himself, a birthday party, some casual drug use, tourists, dogs sniffing butts (human and other), a man trying to sell you Air Heads out of a plastic bag, and a handful of generally depressed looking people. That’s New York! Why would you ever want to go anywhere else?! The three of us made our way to the tiny Big Gay Ice Cream, where we were greeted by the sign before even opening the door that the rumors were true, for a limited time only they were serving Cheat-Ohs ice cream. If Kate was hoping to get a more traditional cone, say their Dorothy cone with vanilla, dulce de leche, and crushed Nilla Wafers, I quickly shot that down. We were here for one reason, and one reason only. And that was to prove to Kate that Cheat-Ohs ice cream was worth sticking around for. And not only did Kate have to order it, we all did, and we all had to put on a brave face and say we liked it, because Kate had to stay. We ordered our cones and quickly head for the Little New York, Tompkins Square Park, so we could enjoy our ice cream while basking in whatever glory the park would bestow upon us.
On the less than half a block walk to the park from Big Gay Ice Cream, Kate decided to finally tell Claire and I that she didn’t like Cheet-Ohs, especially Cheet-Ohs dust. This is information I probably should’ve sussed out before demanding she order the ice cream she did, but I do not like to do my research and I can’t be bothered to care. However, the prospects of this being the thing that tipped the scales in favor of her staying seemed low. We took our place on a bench across from a family who had clearly also just come from Big Gay Ice Cream. They all had relatively normal looking cones, so obviously were curious what our bright orange monstrosities were. They seemed slightly frightened, slightly amused when we told them. It was time for our first bites. Having spent some time in South Korea, where I would often spend my evenings browsing their 7-eleven offerings, I was immediately taken back to a cheese flavored popsicle I had from the freezer section all those years ago. The memories of eating cold, cheesy ice cream on a stick on the side of a road in Suwon all came rushing back to me. “Look at you now,” I thought, “Eating more cheesy ice cream in a somewhat dingy environment. Some things never change, huh old friend?” Again, all of this was said internally, to myself. The 7-eleven memories, coupled with the fact that I actually like Cheet-Ohs made for a wonderful, multi-sensory experience for me. Claire housed the whole thing in impressive fashion. Kate, however was unmoved.
Sitting there, wondering where I had failed her, we took in the park. We watched as a male pigeon aggressively courted a female pigeon right at our feet, and Kate remarked on how courtship in the animal kingdom is always uncomfortable to watch as a bystander. “It’s animal rape.” Nothing really makes a person want to stay living right where they are quite like feeling complicit to a crime while eating a food you’ve moments before declared that you didn’t like. It was up to the tourist family sitting across from us at the park to really turn this thing around.
As if on cue, the youngest one of the family froze, a pained expression on her face. Everyone else tried to understand what could’ve possibly happened: an aneurysm? brain freeze? phantom pain? a phantom aneurysm? She gestured at her white sneakers where a single drop of chocolate had fallen and then she burst into hysterical tears. Her older sister poked fun at her, “Are you seriously crying because of your sneakers? They’re just sneakers.” “THEY’RE RUINED!” Everything feels so big and important when you’re 12, I guess. Just wait until you’re 30 and you’re no longer blind to the horrors that exist inside the pigeon community anymore. Thankfully, her hysteria shook Kate out of her doldrums, and I could sense potential to keep this day moving forward in a positive direction. Maybe if this delicious cheesy concoction was only enough to make Claire and I stay (even though we weren’t the ones with plans to leave the city), there was some other milky treat that could sway Kate. The key word there is “milky,” and after a brief discussion of what food based shows each of us had recently binged on Netflix, we decided to head to the Milk Bar in Williamsburg. Our TV viewing had intersected at me having recently watched all of Ugly Delicious, hosted by David Chang, the chef behind Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Kate having seen the episode of Chef’s Table about Milk Bar, the Momofuku offshoot. So we headed underground to Brooklyn to a place I’ve already covered in great detail in a previous post on Off the G, however never have I been there when the stakes were so high.
I knew I had to take a backseat on this one and let Kate decide what she wanted if there was any chance of her staying. I have pretty much at one point in my life had everything offered on the menu, including their cereal milk lattes, and since it was now bordering on late afternoon on a Sunday I knew it was high time for a boozy shake, aka a White Russian made with cereal milk ice cream. Kate stuck to a bagel bomb and a crack pie and Claire went with a Fancy coffee drink, which was also a boozy and sugary, but with the added benefit of coffee! There’s something odd about crack that just makes people addicted and asking for more, so I felt like I had finally accomplished something. Watching Kate enjoy every morsel of crack pie, I felt it safe to ask her if she would stay. The answer below may surprise you!
She said no. Claire had the brilliant idea to ask her what would actually make her stay, which, fuck why didn’t I think of that. So armed with a vague understanding of what Kate likes about New York City (views of the sunset from my roof while drinking beers and talking about Netflix and what it’s like to a be a woman), we did just that. In a lot of ways, I learned nothing. I have made zero plans to try to convince her to stay with things that may actually, ya know, convince her to stay. Instead I’m taking her to places only I’m interested in. In even more ways, I really didn’t learn anything because I got pretty epic dairy diarrhea. And as it turns out, we all did, which we discovered in a later group text that was supposed to just be about how I ended up watching the Chef’s Table episode on Milk Bar and Kate started watching Ugly Delicious. But as with all things, we ended up just talking about poop.
Until next time,
I Love You, New York? Do you love me?