THE ROOT BEER FLOAT FIASCO

The other day I had a craving for my most favorite of desserts, a root beer float. I love a root beer float, the combination of the bubbly and sharp flavor of the root beer with the smooth and creamy vanilla ice cream is just perfect. But I can never get them to taste as perfect as I picture in my mind’s taste buds. So, I’m constantly experimenting with the ingredients, adding butterscotch (too sticky) or peppermint (too overpowering) and one time I even added cinnamon toast (crumb catastrophe!) So, this time I got to thinking: what makes a root beer float so special? And then it hit me: the float! But what makes a good float? And then it hit me again: helium! So, I added a dollop of helium to my mug of root beer and generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Big mistake.

After I added the helium from the helium tank I borrowed from the balloon animal artist who lives next door, I returned the tank right away (like a good neighbor) and when I came back to drink my latest concoction, it was gone! At first, I figured foul play was involved, a thief must have snuck in and stolen it, then sold it to a pawn shop. Frustrated at my misfortune, I looked up to the heavens, and there it was, about fifteen feet and rising. It looked as if it might stop there, but then a wind blew through and took my root beer float with it.

Luckily, I knew just what to do. My good friend Buck is an expert at rope tricks, and he lived just down the street, so I ran down to his house. Sure enough, he was practicing lasso technique on his kitten Chester, who was cooperating but clearly none too pleased by it. “Buck, you have to help me!” I cried. “My root beer float is floating away!” I pointed to where it was drifting lazily above his front yard.

“No prob, pardner,” he drawled to me. “Watch this.” With that, he twirled his lasso faster and faster behind his head, and just as it appeared it would twirl no faster, he aimed it directly at the root beer float and let go. It almost worked- but not quite. The wind from the lasso pushed the float further upward and the rope fell empty to the ground. “Sorry, pal,” Buck said sheepishly, embarrassed his lasso had failed him. I told him thanks anyway and smiled, but on the inside I was sad, and angry at the float for escaping its fate. But I didn’t have time to be angry for long, as the float flew further away down the street. I thanked Buck again and raced after it.

As luck would have it, the root beer float stopped just outside of the Fire Station, where my good friend Sylvia the Fire Lady was enjoying an egg-salad sandwich. “Sylvia!” I shouted. “Look above you!” She stopped eating and looked up, went back to eating, stopped, and looked up once more, incredulous.

“How did your root beer float get all the way up there?” she asked. I explained how I had added helium and that it had worked too well. She placed her egg-salad sandwich in her pocket and ran inside the Fire Station. A moment later, she backed out, driving a fire truck with a big ladder attached. She hopped out of the truck and went around to the side, where the ladder controls were located. She pressed a few buttons and pulled a lever and the ladder lifted upwards into the sky. During this time, my root beer float had been sitting stationary in the sky, like it was on a slightly wobbly invisible table. Sylvia began climbing the ladder slowly, being careful not to fall, or to let her egg-salad sandwich fall from her pocket. It looked like this was going to work! She was almost to the top rung of the ladder when she hesitated, scrunching up her face and placing a finger under her nose. Then, she practically exploded with an enormous sneeze, that rang through the streets and set off a few car alarms, and unfortunately rocketed the root beer float even further down the street and far from her grasp.

“Bless you,” I said, though I was disappointed in losing my root beer float once more, it was no excuse not to be polite. She thanked me and apologized for not being able to help (it turned out she was allergic to heights,) and slowly climbed down the ladder, pausing partway for a few bites of egg-salad sandwich. I thanked her for trying and ran down the street chasing my root beer float.

I was almost at my wit’s end when my luck finally turned around. At this point, I was almost ten blocks from my house, and my root beer float had flown into the park. I ran in after it, and that’s when it began to slowly descend. “The helium must be wearing off!” I said to myself. Sure enough, it continued to drop until, just in front McMinton Pond, it landed safely on the ground. Gratefully, I rushed to it and took a big, long drink. It was perfect! I had never had a better root beer float in my life. But was it the helium? Or had the atmosphere added some extra flavor to it? I don’t know for certain, but I think it had something to do with racing down the street after it. I finished the root beer float while sitting by McMinton Pond, but not right away. I took my time, enjoying the taste.

The next time I make a root beer float, I’m going to add helium again and race it down the street. It just tastes better that way.

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