For the past month or so, A (not her real initial) and I have been looking forward to the end of our respective fall semesters and the chance to reward ourselves with root beer, ice cream, and French fries. It’s not that we haven’t had root beer, ice cream, and French fries this past semester…we just haven’t had the time to sit down for a long, leisurely, and high-caloric weekday lunch since we walked at Mount Auburn Cemetery and ate pancakes (and I drank the unbelievably sweet, neon-bright raspberry lime rickey pictured below) at the Deluxe Town Diner back in August. If you’re in tune with an academic calendar, you’ll recognize the pattern: August was our last hurrah before fall semester classes began, and this past Friday, when A and I made good on our mutual root beer promise, marked the last push before semester’s end.
At some point over the past month or so, “root beer” became a kind of code for “the celebratory lunch A and I will have after we’ve both submitted grades.” When you teach for a living, you get used to the fact that no one except another instructor will remember the precise chronology of your “busy” and “down” times. Yes, everyone assumes my summer schedule is lighter than my winter one, and everyone knows that school resumes sometime around September. But only someone like A knows that if we have Getting-Ready-for-a-New-Semester Pancakes in late August, it will be roughly 15 weeks before we can have a refreshing glass of Thank-God-It’s-Nearly-Over Root Beer in late December.
In about a month, A and I will have a serving of Spring-Semester’s-Almost-Here Potato Pancakes, then another three months or so after that, we’ll indulge in some version of I-Have-Piles-of-Final-Papers-to-Grade Cheesecake. If you know what it’s like to measure out your life with coffee spoons, you’ll recognize this pattern. For every milestone, there’s an accompanying meal anticipated in advance and enjoyed over conversation, the savor of a leisurely, high-caloric treat being the perfect reward for a busy semester with little time to socialize.
The site for this past Friday’s root beer reward was Joey’s Diner in Amherst, NH, which I’ve featured here previously. Both A and I enjoyed our anticipated root beer and fries: A’s with a crock of turkey soup, and mine with a bacon cheeseburger. We saved, however, the ice cream for another day: next semester’s reward, perhaps?