The Last Thing I Loved: Coke Icees

Maggie Fulmer shares her unconditional love of Icees in all seasons.

Some might argue that Icees are a luxury only properly enjoyed when the weather is warm — when July welcomes a heat that isn’t comparable to much else, and the only solace found is in the form of a frozen beverage. It makes sense.

My little brother and I would passionately disagree with that argument.

Kentucky weather in early October is difficult to predict. Though the leaves have slowly started putting on their new colors, the sun seems confused about her current role. One day, she shines intensely, causing us all to forget that winter is on the horizon. The next, she’s timid, and we’re pulling on the jackets we thought we could keep away a while longer.

At least we should be wearing jackets. The abrupt changes in temperature often lead me to forget how to appropriately dress for the day. This time, I throw on a cardigan for work, but not a jacket.

By 8:30 p.m., when I leave work, I regret that decision. It feels like the temperature has dropped at least 20 degrees since my shift began, even though I know the difference isn’t that drastic.

While I walk to my car, I instinctively pull my cardigan tighter around me to combat the crisp wind, but I ignore the chill. I don’t think twice about the fact that I promised my brother I’d bring him an Icee when I got off work. I head straight to the gas station.

The bell above the door jingles, announcing my arrival. I walk past the likely empty coffee dispensers and disregard the remaining hot dogs as they continue to spin aimlessly on their grill. I reach the Icee machine in the back corner of the store and sigh in relief when I see that each machine is working. The last time I stopped in, every single machine was out of order.

I grab two of the second largest cups (the biggest ones don’t fit in my car’s cup holders) and then pop on their lids. I fill my cup entirely with the frozen Coke flavor. My brother’s cup gets half Coke and half cherry.

After paying, I push open the gas station door with the side of my hip and head out. This time, the bell announces my departure. I’m again hit with a blast of frigid air, and I laugh to myself that my hands are completely bare and gripping two frozen drinks when they would probably prefer to be in gloves.

During the quick drive to my brother, I recall an exchange last year when we stopped at the same gas station to get the same Icees. I was about to pay for our drinks when the man behind us in line interjected.

“Actually, wait — I’d like to pay for their stuff, too,” he said.

“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” I quickly responded.

“It’s all good. Just remember … Pay it forward,” he said.

I smiled and picked up our drinks.

“Thanks, man,” my brother said.

With a swift wave, we stepped outside.

I know my brother remembers that instance well, and I know I’ll remind him of it again when I hand him this Icee. I also know that the concept of paying it forward is an overly used cliché. So what? I hope that every time my brother flashes back to that moment, his desire to be kind is inflated.

I like the notion that every Icee we get together from now on will be complemented by that simple lesson. And perhaps that’s the real reason purchasing Icees in October is just as necessary as sharing ones in July.

MAGGIE FULMER is an emerging writer from Kentucky and an English graduate student at Northern Kentucky University. She received her BA in Journalism from NKU in May of 2017 and currently works as a copywriter and freelancer.