Reflections of a Man who Has Gotten His Tongue Stuck on An Ice Cube One Too Many Times

To me, the best part about a cup of water has always been the ice cubes at the end. When I pour myself a glass of water, I always put in ice cubes, and after I’ve finished the water, I suck or chew on them as one last bit of hydration before finishing my beverage. I do this at restaurants too, much to the dismay of my mother. After I finish a drink, I take a swig of my cup and pour those oddly shaped ice-cubes in my mouth.[1]

My dear love of ice cubes extends beyond just sucking on the aftermath of my drinks though. Often times, when I’m lying at home[2] and get a tint of thirst in my mouth, I go to the freezer and pop out a cube from my tray and stick it in my mouth. This is what I have grown to know as a gamble. Although I’ve been doing this since I was about five years old and discovered where the ice trays in my houses freezer was, I seem to have learnt literally nothing.

Every single time I put an ice cube in my mouth, I’m taking a small risk. In the optimal scenario, the ice cube lands smoothly in my mouth and I place it in the left pouch of my cheek as my saliva melts it and I get very slightly hydrated by what is basically freezing cold water. When that happens, for a moment, life is good. However, more often than not, I’d say I actually end up losing the gamble. In this case, as I place the ice cube on my tongue, it instead gets stuck frozen to the surface of my tongue.

At this point, I’m left with a few options. Over the years, I’ve analyzed them each to great detail and have determined that the specific shape and strength of the particular ice cube could change which option is best. The first, most obvious option, the one an amateur in ice suckling would probably choose, is to simply dangle the ice from the tongue whilst lightly pulling it until it comes off. This option produces a fair amount of gradual pain, and it does take a bit of time, which does cause the tongue to not only get tired, but that freezing feeling of the cube begins to extend unto the whole tongue.

Another option is to place the ice cube within the heat of your mouth, eventually causing it to smoothly slide off the surface of your tongue. This method offers grand convenience, because if the sucker performs it optimally, the cube will not only come off the tongue, but also will leave the cube right in the mouth, leading to immediate sucking. However, if performed wrong, this technique has dire consequences. During the draw-in that brings the cube into the mouth, it’s not uncommon for an amateur to miscalculate the trajectory the cube needs to travel. If this happens, the still-freezing cube will attach itself to the outer edges of the sucker’s lip, causing even more pain to get the cube off of the mouth.

Another technique is a classic, but I’m skeptical how well this one really works. In this case, when the sucker discovers that his tongue is attached to the cube he will begin releasing spurts of air while going “ha-ha-haaaa” onto the cube. I believe the thought process here is that by releasing hot air on it, it will melt off the tongue quickly. Personally, I feel this method does not work, but yet I find myself trying it all the time. I simply don’t feel the spurts of air have any physical effect on the bridge between my tongue and the cube. Nonetheless, perhaps the benefits of this method come from the placebo effect combined with the fact that blowing on the cube serves as a brief distraction from the fact that your tongue is stuck to an ice cube. Then by the time the distraction is no longer working, the ice cube is probably beginning to become disconnected from the tongue anyway.

There are, of course, other ways to get an ice cube off of your tongue. For example, a masochist may simply pull the cube off as hard as possible, as if he was ripping a band-aid off. I’ve never tried this method, but I imagine the pain would be a similar sensation to that of pulling a band-aid off, but in this case on the tongue.[3]

As I currently type this piece, I actually do have an ice cube in my mouth. This particular cube was smaller, coming from a mini ice-tray I keep in my freezer behind the larger ice tray. This tray produces cubes that are supposed to be the shape of flowers, but due to the imperfect way water freezes, the cubes tend to come out more as just bumpy circles. Even odder than this though, is the notion that because I have written in such detail about ice cubes and the implications of sucking on them,  they have now become an explicit item and moment in my history. In fact, if any reader wants to assume that I am not lying about ice, then everything they have read has become not only a part of my history, but just a part of history in general.

It is also incredibly jarring for me, the writer, to be thinking about the implications of the reader reading this piece. Although I am a real person who has lived through the typical human experience, all the reader can possibly conceive me as in this moment is a man who sucks ice cubes and sometimes gets them stuck to his tongue. I have also crafted this history for myself by writing this, and now, by acknowledging the history at all, I have also added it into the repertoire of things the reader can associate me with.

It is incredibly odd, and in a way disheartening, that the reader seems to take away all the identity from the writer other than what the writer includes in his piece. If I hadn’t delved past ice and it being stuck on my tongue, you, the reader, would probably not have thought past the fact that I enjoy sucking on ice cubes. Of course, I’m presenting this from the notion that the reader is the dominant one in this relationship. More likely though is that the writer has the power to control where the reader’s mind goes in relation to his work.

Juan Ponce de Leon is most famous for his adventures trying to discover the Fountain of Youth. The Fountain of Youth, as the name implies, is a magical fountain which contains waters that stop the process of aging, and I am guessing grants immortality. Although he’s not really taught much in history classes as far as I know, he’s a fairly famous historical figure, and this is the adventure he’s most commonly associated with. However, just a tad of research reveals that the stories of him looking for the Fountain of Youth are probably fake. This isn’t to say he wasn’t one of the greatest Spanish Conquistadors and explorers in all of history. In the 1500’s, he basically discovered Florida and Puerto Rico for Spain and led to their first attempts of colonizing the United States. He went on to lead several successful ventures to and from Florida, which was a feat of its own in the 1500’s. Along with that, he would eventually be the first governor of Puerto Rico.

Juan Ponce de Leon may seem totally irrelevant to my ice cube sucking situation, but we are both victims to the same crime of identity by readership. Ponce de Leon, however, did not have the same power as myself. When I chose to write this piece about ice cube sucking[4] and the effect it will have on the reader in regards to myself, the writer, I also made the blatant decision to momentarily demote my existence to nothing more than what I write about. However, Ponce de Leon[5] did not decide that his history would be based around the Fountain of Youth, the thing he is most commonly known for now.

Rather, some dude named Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés wrote in 1535 in his book Historia general y natural de las Indias that Ponce[6] was looking for healing waters in Bimini, an area of the Bahamas. However, there’s little evidence that I could find that he was actually looking for a physical youth-inducing fountain. More likely he was looking for the waters within a cove off the coast of the island. That cove was known to contain mineral-laden freshwater which could cure certain diseases. Reality has revealed that the cove’s water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium that may have had positive effects on the body. Even if there were some truth in these stories, they were still written as stories. Yet somewhere along the line, they got printed in the 1600’s textbooks as fact. Today, those “facts” are all Ponce de Leon is related to historically.

The point I’m trying to get at here doesn’t really revolve around “fact.” Instead, it is really related to the concept of written history and how the power dynamic between a reader and a writer is more powerful than existing “fact.” Yet here I am, finishing this article, with yet another new ice cube placed into my mouth. This one too, did not get stuck on my tongue, or to the side of my lips, in any fashion. It went smoothly into my mouth and now I am happily hydrating myself as I finish this article. So then I am left wondering, what is more powerful? The details I provided in the beginning, which portray myself as a man constantly sucking on ice cubes. Or is it the facts I provide later? It’s interesting how the “facts” in this article evolved as it was written[7]. When it started off, the history was that I was a man constantly getting his tongue stuck on ice cubes and reflecting on it as far as you knew. Now though, we stand at the conclusion where I seem to have no problem doing the aforementioned task with no problem of them being stuck on my tongue. Although I suppose the second I put a new cube in my mouth next time and it gets stuck to my tongue, the truth changes once again.[8] The history is ever-evolving, but this piece places it in a frozen state[9] where like Ponce de Leon being forcibly associated with the Fountain of Youth because of vaguely placed facts in a textbook 400 years ago, all I can ever be associated with is my manic obsession with sucking ice cubes, writing about the act, and mildly relating it to the possibility that a man once maybe looked for the Fountain of Youth.

[1] It has always been very odd to me that the ice cubes in restaurants are shaped differently than any other ice cubes I’ve ever seen. A lot of time the ones in restaurants are circular like donuts, and I don’t fully understand how they freeze them like that.

[2] This is one of those absolutely crazy phenomenons that gets overlooked how amazing it is. The explanation is also really quite simple to understand. My tongue has saliva on it, which is a liquid. Along with that, my tongue only has so much heat to it. The ice cube, being a super cold object, actually causes the saliva of the tongue to freeze, creating a frozen bridge between the tongue and the cube.

[3] I also have always had this strange notion, and I’m not sure if there’s any validity to it at all, that the tongue is less able-to-recover from injury than a normal body part. For example, if I get a small cut from a butter knife, I can rest easy knowing that after a few days with a band-aid, the cut will begin to seal, and my skin will be fine. Meanwhile, I have always had the strange fear that if I lose a bit of my tongue (even just a few cells!) that they will be gone forever. So, as a result, if I just pull an ice cube off my tongue like some kind of madman, I may end up pulling off bits of my tongue as well. If I did this enough and my fear turns out to carry some truth, that means eventually this method will result in the total destruction of my tongue’s taste cells. Of course, I would still have teeth, so I suppose eating would be possible. In fact, as long as I still had access to saliva and the ability to swallow, this might actually not be a terrible thing. After all, without the burden of flavor, I could simply eat only the healthiest of foods available to me.

[4] Which has, admittedly, gone off the rails and seems to no longer be about sucking on ice cubes. However, I will make a promise here and now, that this article will end by somehow returning to the original topic.

[5] At this moment I went back and de-capitalized every usage of the “de” in his name. I realized that it isn’t actually a middle name but rather just meaning “of Leon”. I’m pretty sure I knew this in the back of my head, but at the moment I began writing this, it escaped my mind.

[6] I have decided we are on a first name basis.

[7] Or as it was read for you I guess.

[8] But by that point, alas, the article will be published. Sadly, I don’t think I will add addendums to edit the history each time I suck on a ice cube to resolve whether or not it got stuck to my tongue.

[9] Actually no pun intended.

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