Baskin Robbins, Patterns and the Illusion of Choices in Your Life

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Ok, how do I find Mrs. Right?


For a time, Howard Hughes, the famed wealthy eccentric, lived in the penthouse of the Desert Inn in Las Vegas. I don’t know the full story about this, but they wanted to evict him because he was such a weirdo. But, instead, he bought the hotel so he wouldn’t be evicted.

Anyway, he was really enamored of Baskin Robbins Banana Nut ice cream and tried to buy a bulk shipment of it. But the flavor was discontinued.


M, a really good looking, pleasantly scruffy guy in his mid 20’s who just felt cool from presence alone sat down at the table and asked

Ok, how do find Mrs. Right?

I asked him if that was what he was looking for and he amended his query to

Also, how do I get into a satisfying relationship?

His current plan?

He goes to bars and can meet women and sleeps with different ones with some regularity and has found some satisfaction with that. But we both agreed that having sex with some frequency and intensity alone is amazing. But ultimately limited in the level of satisfaction it can deliver and something else, something deeper perhaps needs to be integrated into or along side that.

He also said that online dating was “too much of a game” for him.


Baskin Robbins said that they would make a special order if he ordered 350 gallons of ice cream. So, when you are a rich eccentric…you order 350 gallons of Banana Nut ice cream.


But, who could have guessed, that the quirky and eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes quickly tired of Banana Nut ice cream and wanted to only eat French Vanilla.

Visitors to the Desert Inn ate free Banana Nut ice cream for a year until it was all gone.


Why do you want to be in a relationship? What is there that you don’t have now?

M said

In a relationship I’d have a connected sense of intimacy where trust could grow.

Pretty good answer, right?

I asked M about what he does and how he spends his time before we got into a creative approach that might meet him. M spends his time thusly:

  • shooting video
  • web design
  • working out
  • eating out at restaurants
  • playing music with his band – but they don’t do gigs yet.

So I asked M:

Besides at bars, how often do you meet people?”

He cocked his head and hummed out loud as his own version of the Final Jeopardy theme song and came up blank.


What was the point of that weird Howard Hughes story?

Baskin Robbins has had well over 1000 flavors in their shops since 1945. But they make their money on the illusion of choice. People like the idea of choice and variety for a while but ultimately Baskin Robbins makes money on Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry.

Admittedly some people are variety junkies…but then variety is just their version of Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry. Odd Fellows Ice Cream is opening in Brooklyn with flavors like Chorizo Caramel, Cornbread, Burnt Marshmallow, and…wait for it Smoked Vanilla.

There is nothing wrong with this but we love ease so we make patterns for ourselves so that our lives are easier. Baskin Robbins shoppers love the pattern of looking at the cases and seeing the colors and the fanciful names and sometimes trying Butterscotch Ribbon or Cherry Macaroon but mostly chocolate, vanilla or strawberry.

You probably travel to work the same way, check the same ten websites in the same order and you probably have the same morning routine day in and day out.

Roll out of bed.

Check email on device.

Take eight steps and brush teeth while peeing.

For M that was doing the same activities over and over again. We all do this. It is okay. It makes things easier in lots of ways. But there is also a cost.

We miss details and nuance. We throttle the opportunity to be surprised.


So I pointed out to to M that he sees his band mates at practice…he goes out to eat at nice restaurants all the time but mostly alone or with his band mates. And that he works out by himself and his freelance job involves no co-workers, mostly phone and email work with brief in-the-flesh- meetings.

I also speculated that he didn’t even have very interesting conversations with the women he was sleeping with who he met in bars…he concurred and said

It is usually too loud to talk about anything there and even then there isn’t much to talk about


We can’t always do things differently every time

This wasn’t the most creative thing in the world but it was clear that M just needed to connect with new people on a field where his interests lie. He basically leads a solitary, regularly patterened life.

So I suggested to him. I suggested joining food and dining meetups, music meetups and videography meetups and there he will meet different people with similar interests and a relationship based on commonality would arise in time – but mostly to just break from his solitary existence.

Again, this wasn’t the most profound or creative thing ever – but M loved it and had truly never considered it. He was staunchly in the “what is the deal with women in this city?” camp. We then sat and watched girls go by and in the simplest and most non-lecherous way just admired them together…mentioning either physical features that endeared them to us or subtle energies they put out as well. It was actually really chaste and nice. At one point a very unique woman strolled by and M just got emphatic

a woman who carries herself like that, man , I can just tell I could be in a great relationship with her.

I deadpanned to him …

You know, I sort of know her. Not well, but I know who she is. She is great.

M was delirious at the possibility at connecting with this woman now lost in the tangle of farmers market stalls. He asked

Where do you know her from?

I answered dryly …

We both laughed at this transparent lie but he got the point.

Postscript – a few weeks later M walked by my table and came up and shook my hand and said that while he isn’t in a relationship he loves and is meeting great people and doing really fun stuff and has new friends. He encouraged his friend and bandmate to talk with me “about that thing” but bandmate said

I don’t want to talk about that thing anymore. It has already taken over my life.

M and I shook hands and he took off.

So what patterns do you have? What happens if you start to break them?

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