James Johnson, noticing the despondent mood in the Heat locker room after a discouraging loss to the Knicks, wanted to raise the down spirits of his teammates. “You know what tastes really great after a full 48 minutes of basketball?” he asked cheerily. Undeterred by the cold glances he was receiving from the rest of the team, he answered his own question: “Ice cream!” To emphasize this statement, he pulled a slightly crushed carton of ice cream from his gym bag and held it up for everybody to see.
“James, how old is that ice cream?” Jimmy Butler asked in a tone of voice that made it clear that this was not the first such incident in the Heat locker room.
James looked at the carton as if he could ascertain its age by sight alone, then shrugged. “Dunno. But I bet it’s still good.”
“James, you do realize that ice cream should be kept frozen, right? It’s melted for sure by now.”
“Of course I know that,” James lied. He thought that ice cream was kept cold because it tasted better that way, not because the cold was necessary to maintain its structural integrity. “But after a tough game, does anybody really feel like using their jaw muscles?” He popped open the lid to look at his delicious postgame snack.
Jimmy was right. It had melted. It was also supposed to be strawberry flavor, but it had turned gray and it smelled funny. But James had no other snacks in his bag, and it was either eat the ice cream he had been saving for a special occasion or sneak out of the locker room to beg the concession workers for leftovers. He chose the former. “Well, if nobody else wants some, it’s your loss. Bottoms up!” With that, he tipped the carton into his mouth and chugged.
The taste was rancid, but James was well past the point of caring. He was so hungry, all the time, and the team nutritionists never let him have anything good, citing concerns about his “conditioning”. He pulled the carton away from his face, leaving a ring of gray sludge around his smiling mouth. “Man, you guys are missing out,” he said while he wiped what he now thought to be mold from his lips.
“I doubt that, somehow,” Jimmy replied.
James ignored his teammate’s sarcastic remark and went for another sip of ice cream.