August 08, 2012

Alinosi's: Why We Never Forget Certain Things

Chocolate Bar Cafe
Sarah and I just returned from a wonderful nine-day road trip/vacation that began with a friend's wedding in Massachusetts and ended with us celebrating our one-year anniversary in Maine. In between we had stops in Ann Arbor, Port Huron (Michigan) and Niagara Falls. If I'm being honest, I'm a little surprised we made it all the way back to New England. The fact that Sarah remained patient with me throughout the trip really solidified her sainthood. Not only did I utter the phrase, "Oh, I should blog about that!!!" roughly 35 times, I also celebrated crossing state lines by performing "Call Me Maybe."  It's hard to do all the parts by yourself, but I managed...



The first few days of the trip were spent with my Grandma Krass near Ann Arbor, Michigan. We had a great time showing her pictures/videos from our wedding and just shooting the breeze. The day we were leaving my grandma mentioned how a few weeks before our arrival she went with a friend to the Chocolate Bar Cafe, or as the Krass family referred to it, "Alinosi's." Alinosi's an ice cream parlor near Detroit that appears to be largely untouched since about the 1950s. My grandpa used to take the grandchildren to Alinosi's to award us for good behavior, or to get us out of our grandma's hair--to this day I'm still not quite sure the real reason.

Sarah and Grandma Krass
The more we talked to my grandma about the shop, the more I desperately wanted to go. Conveniently, the store is located just north of Detroit and exactly on our way to Port Huron (where my other grandparents live and where we were going). 

I was giddy the entire drive.

I was flooded by memories as soon as we walked through the door.  I remembered the menu, the bar stools, the pictures of the Alinosi family, but mostly I remembered their famous Clown Sunday.  I'm not sure the server knew quite what to do with me. I just stared at the menu smiling like Mark Grace rode into the shop on a unicorn (I'll save some of you a google search. Mark Grace played 1st base for the Cubs in the 90s).


"Can I help you?" the server asked.
"Well, I'm not quite sure.  The thing is, I haven't been here in about 16 years..."
"Let me guess", she cut me off. "You want a clown Sunday."
"YES!!!" I practically shouted. Sarah had to refrain me from jumping on the counter.
"We have men in their 60s came in and order our clown Sunday. They never forget it."


Fighting back tears, Sarah and I shared the glorious and unforgettable clown Sunday.

Mmmmmmmm Clown Sunday
If my siblings were to see this picture, I guarantee they would have the same response. The Clown Sunday is probably the most significant thing that ever happened to me as a child (OK, that may be an exaggeration but I'm on a role here).  Why is it that we remember things like Clown Sundays? Sarah has to remind me when we have dinner plans eighteen times, but for whatever reason I could tell you every single ingredient that comprises a Clown Sunday.

I suppose it's the moments of unadulterated joy and pain that we remember most. I remember the black and white tile floor at Alinosi's but I also remember remember the exact level of Mario Kart I was playing when Dr. Engstrom walked down the stairs to our basement and told me my dad had passed away. In moments like that there is no secondary emotion. There is only the scene--made up of characters, places and times.

I think we remember things from our youth better because we allow the "scene" to simply be the scene. We don't analyze, explain or argue with it. It just is. Sometimes I wish I were more "childlike" (though Sarah probably doesn't see how that is possible), and I simply "took it all in." At least this way I could eat more ice cream.

If you are ever in Detroit, go to Alinosi's. Believe me, you wont regret it. Order the Clown Sunday and take it all in. I know we did...

Exactly as I remember it
Next blog post: Why I'm Rekindling My Relationship with Michigan Football













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