Root Beer Floats by: Matthew Kinney
Root Beer Floats
By: Matthew Kinney
There are certain things that you can look back at and laugh about, especially later on down the road. The story I am about to relate is one of them. Before I get too in depth, however, realize that I was a first time dad and had no prior experience with pregnancy or childbirth.
The summer before my daughter was born was coming to an end. Leaves were changing, the air was gaining a wintery bite; my wife was clearly getting more pregnant by the day. All in all, I was very pleased with myself. Our baby was healthy, growing and very active. I was hanging out with my wife, one night, and she gets that look on her face. That look that just tells you that something is going to happen. She looks over at me and says, “I have a craving.” I smile, knowing that this was coming, and ask her what it was. She said that she wanted a root beer float. I checked the kitchen and told her we didn’t have the needed supplies to make them good and proper – root beer, vanilla ice cream, Hershey’s syrup & I wanted to go extravagant enough to include maraschino cherries and crushed peanuts. Despite this, however, I told her that I’d be willing to walk to the store and get everything. I opted to walk because our car, at the time, was out of commission. She told me I was sweet, but said that it was too much trouble for just a random craving.
I insisted that she let me go to the store and get everything that I listed. Once again, she refused to let me. Finally, in a flash of defiance, I grabbed up my wallet, clothes, got dressed and sprinted out the door. I got no further than twenty feet from the door and my cell goes off - text alert. She’s telling me to come back in, that there’s no need for me to go. I just reply with a smiley face and keep going. The store is no less than a mile from our house. It is well past midnight and it’s cold. Despite all of these deterrents, I was more than willing to get my lovely wife what she desired.
I get about a half of a mile away from the house and the wind picks up. Not bothering to notice, I soldier on. At about a quarter of a mile from the store, I notice that the moonlight that was shining down was now gone. I get to the store, shop for what I need to make my wife the perfect root beer float, even adding a jar of caramel drizzle. I get to the cashier stand and check out, absolutely pleased as punch with myself.
As I exit the store and get midway through the parking lot, I hear a roaring crack of thunder and that was about all the warning I got before the sky just opened up and poured down rain. I sighed, resigned myself to the fact that the weather couldn’t be controlled and pressed on. Unfortunately, for me, the rain was just as persistent as I was. Also, so was the wind. So not only am I carrying several bags of groceries, but I am soaked from head to toe. I tell myself that it cannot possibly get much worse than this. As a word of advice, never, ever, tell yourself that. As I trudged up the hill that had not seemed such a steep grade on the way down, I watch as traffic passes me by. I should’ve watched more carefully, though, because a huge truck roared past me and drenched me with water and street sludge from about the neck down.
Now thoroughly agitated, I press on towards home. My earlier mood of being happy that I could cater to my wife’s cravings had quite honestly vanished. I was cold, wet, miserable and I was certainly going to tell my wife all about how I went through icy rain and blustering winds just to bring her a root beer float. I enter the apartment complex where we lived and, for the first time on this return trip, I felt a glimmer of relief. It was almost over. I ascend the stairs towards our apartment and look down, by chance, to notice that the bag with the two liter of root beer in it had ripped open. Almost as if in slow motion, I look back down the stairs to notice it tumbling down the stairs. With a few colorful adjectives, I set down what I was carrying to chase after the errant bottle. It rolls almost to the curb and stops just on the edge of the sidewalk. As I bend down to pick it up, a car zooms past, hitting a puddle and I get a second drenching.
Cursing, sputtering, I head back up the stairs, retrieve the groceries, and go to our apartment. I get inside to find my wife on the couch. She looks at me with a mixture of shock, amusement and bewilderment. I lift everything up and say, “Well, here’s everything we need!” She replies, “Welcome home, hun, but you look a mess!” I tell her about the journey I had, she laughs at the drenching parts, tells me to go shower and get warmed up. I do so, forgetting to tell her about the bounced bottle of soda. About a few minutes into my shower, I hear a godawful shriek and bolt out to see what was wrong.
The root beer bottle exploded the instant she tried to open it. There was root beer everywhere. There’s a few seconds of stunned silence that pass. She looks at me and is, apparently amused by the look on my face and I am highly amused to see her, and our kitchen, covered in root beer. The combined amusement gave us both a fit of the giggles. Looking back on the entire thing, now, is still a laugh riot and will certainly be a story I tell our children when they grow up.
See the rest of the Pregnancy and Children Short Stories