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Ice Machina

Our eight-year-old Subzero has been acting up lately. Specifically, the ice maker has been on the fritz, and that has me on edge. Not many situations put me in a bad mood faster than an empty ice drawer.


Oh, the sadness

I need my ice every day. I rely on it not so much for its chilling properties but for its diluting skills. It mellows the tiny bubbles in carbonated drinks that sting my tongue and scratch my throat. Plopping a cube or two into a glass of rose waters it down enough to prevent me from getting too buzzed. Forget the alcohol. It’s the ice cubes themselves that take the edge off for me.

When I’m in a place where ice isn’t readily available–like, say, anywhere in Europe–I get anxious. In Paris, I add, “avec glace, s’il vous plait. Beaucoup de glace!”  after a drink order. It’s followed by a loud, please-like-me! American laugh, which probably explains the subsequent lonely cube swirling around at the bottom of the glass placed before me. Oh, ha ha ha, French waiter.


Bertrand’s Campari, soda and OJ on the rocks.

That said, one’s dearth is another’s deluge. While I’m perpetually tapping my glass with “hit me” gestures, there are those, like my friends Felicia and Danielle, who prefer everything straight up. Danielle actually finds the ice machines in our new offices at the Freedom Tower dictatorial. “Their two settings are Ice or Iced water. What if I just want cold water?”

She has a point, but my informal poll proves she’s in the minority. Most people I’ve asked love the ice machines, and happily take their water on the rocks. “The ice machine is one of the best perks at Conde Nast” my friend Patricia tweeted, a photo of the one on her floor attached. “I live for the ice machine,” agrees my colleague Alix. “The week that it was broken, I was having a hard time finding a reason to come into the office at all.”


One of Conde Nast’s beloved ice machines.

Did I mention it’s crushed ice? Crushed ice is the best. It’s soothing, refreshing. It surrounds your drink, and your drinks allows it to live within it. Even the sound of it slushing into your glass relaxes you. If our Subzero emitted crushed ice, I’d probably never come into work. Alix’s fridge must not make crushed ice…

My inherent need for frozen water dates back to my childhood. We were ice-poor. The freezer atop our squat 1950’s General Electric refrigerator housed two metal ice trays with pull-back handles. There was no bin to accumulate cubes, so if you hit the trays at the wrong time, sadness and/or frustration would ensue. Should my father come home to this circumstance at 6:30 martini time, it fell to me to seek replenishments. “Hi, Mrs. Martin,” I’d say, standing on our neighbor’s front stoop, my mother’s mixing bowl cradled in my arms. “Can we borrow some ice?”

That embarrassing task probably explains my adult need to always have our supply fully stocked, vacillating between shuddering and smirking at the memory of my sad eight-year-old self, hoarding what little I could find to stir into my Tang.

This afternoon, I headed over to our kitchen to refill my Mason jar. I tilted the jar into the machine. Nothing. I pushed a little more aggressively, then started moving it around beneath its mouth, growing more and more frustrated as each movement failed to get a response. So I asked my assistant to head up a floor or down a floor and steal some from Allure or Traveler. She returned and set the jar on my desk. I looked at her as though she’d just filed a story half done.

“Not enough?” she asked, with a hint of incredulity. I shook my head. “You like it filled all the way to the top?” I smiled and nodded my head. And back she went to our neighbor’s to borrow more ice.

I bet she grew up with an ice dispenser in her fridge.

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Jane was executive beauty director at W Magazine for 16 years. When she is not writing beauty articles, she's likely either hiking with her husband and dog, Remy, or in her kitchen, frauding (new verb) her way around a fancy recipe, a home decoration or a highbrow dinner party conversation of which she knows nothing about. In other words, she nods a lot and googles a lot later.