There’s an endless list of objectively devastating texts you could receive ahead of a party — “i’m not actually coming anymore” from your crush, or “actually no one is wearing a costume.” But there is one that is uniquely shattering. You have almost certainly sent it, as well as received it:
Hey, can you pick up some ice?
What makes this text so upsetting is not the requested action (bringing something to the party), but instead, the direct object at the end of that ask. Ice. How about we meditate on some of ice’s worst qualities: It’s cold. It’s heavy. It’s dirty. If it’s hot outside, the exterior of the bag is likely a little wet with condensation. There’s also a not-insignificant chance that you, personally, won’t even use it.
And yet, the act of carrying the ice isn’t even the worst part about being the recipient of this text. Instead, that comes just moments after receiving the message, at which point you’re forced to face that you, of all people, have been given the worst possible task. Now it’s possible that you have been asked to pick up the ice because you’re the host’s best friend or partner, and they know you’ll eventually forgive them for inflicting this task upon you. But if you’re not tight with the host, getting this text brings about a deflating realization: That they see you as a littttttle bit of a pushover. (That is, if they’re not outright preemptively punishing you for, say, your habit of showing up late or empty-handed.)
If you still question the cogency of this argument, ask yourself this: How many times, before having people over for anything from tapas to dinner to a Solo-cup rager, have you “forgotten” to buy a few bags of $2 ice from your corner store or bodega? (That wasn’t accidental.)
Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about this. Ice is a party staple — and something that typically needs to be bought. For most multiple-hour-long gatherings, it’s nearly impossible for a host to make an ample enough amount to last throughout an evening. And when the temperature is above 75 degrees, forget about it.
Instead, next time you’re at one of those parties, keep an eye out for the ice-bringer — there’s a good chance they’re looking a little dejected, and stubbornly sipping a glass of wine or can of soda or beer bottle (any bev that does not require ice). And then, walk up to them and tell them they look glowing. Maybe bring them a potato chip. Or, better yet, hand them a cup of ice; there doesn’t even need to be a liquid in it, in my opinion! Just let them know that you both recognize and value their labor, and that at this party, they can enjoy the fruits of it.