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"It's just ice cream," he says. "You're supposed to have fun with it."
Moments after wondering what he'll do with sage, he professes his love for Whitey's Ice Cream in Moline, Illinois. The parlor serves light, fluffy American ice cream. When grandparents Bob and Josie Larson took him there in the summer as a child, Elbow always ordered cookies and cream. Grandpa Bob called his nightly dessert at home "bed lunch." He can still picture his grandfather at the kitchen table with an Old Style and a scoop of vanilla ice cream covered in Hershey's syrup.
"I understand why people like Russell Stover's," Elbow says. "It's always great because it's nostalgic. I don't want to compete with that."
At the Leawood Glacé, a stack of empty cardboard boxes has reached the door handle. A security guard stops to advise that trash can go out the back door to the Dumpster.
"We don't have a back door," Hufford says, a little amused.
"What time do you open?" the guard asks. Hufford looks at Elbow.
"Five p.m.," Elbow says.
"So I'm going to be your first customer?" the guard says. He moves on to the Apple Store.
Elbow looks down at a wasted pile of labels.
"The 'r' button on the label maker was sticking. That's why I kept getting only one 'r' in 'berry.'"
He pauses. "Well, the 'l' wasn't working, either," he says, and laughs.
A woman stops outside the front door and taps her fingers to her wrist, the pantomine for "What time do you open?" Elbow walks out to greet her. This time, he adds an "around" before the "5 p.m." pledge. He could open Saturday or Sunday or Monday, but he's determined not to let the evening pass without a sale.
"This is just my own doing," he says. "We could be opening tomorrow. But we can open, so we're doing it."
At 4:54 p.m., the last of the four tables has been assembled. His first employee, a brown-haired teenager named Annie, has arrived in her white Glacé T-shirt. Hufford is sweeping the floor. Elbow shuttles his tools and the remaining boxes of tables to the back room.
"I don't ever see things like this going away," Elbow says. "I expect my staff to work hard, so I do the same."
Kothari is in front with Dunne. They're students at the University of Kansas, spending the summer in their hometown.
The security guard is a no-show. This moment belongs to the young ice-cream lovers. Dunne takes a bite of the peanut butter and jelly.
"That one is so good," he says.
"You just need to put some bread on it," Elbow jokes.
Kothari asks if he'll pose with her for a photo. Dunne takes out a camera. The shutter clicks. At 5:22 p.m., the suction-cup sign on the door switches from "closed" to "open." Elbow is behind the counter again, ready for the next in line.