Brian McGrory

Dilemma in a dish

By Brian McGrory
Globe Columnist / July 8, 2011

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There’s an old vaudeville line about the definition of a mixed emotion: Your mother-in-law drives off a cliff - in your new car.

Welcome to my life. I was getting ready for work at the crack of 10 a.m. one recent day when the nicest member of my household casually informed me, “The paper says they’re going to start selling Graeter’s ice cream around here. Don’t you like that brand?’’

Like? Like? Sweetheart, I like world peace. I like liberty and freedom. I’d like to win $165 million in Powerball. But Graeter’s? Graeter’s has changed every part of my otherwise meaningless little life.

This isn’t ordinary ice cream, this Graeter’s. It’s made in Ohio in something called a “French pot’’ with flavors so pure and chocolate chips so big and bittersweet they could make a fairy angel weep. To know Graeter’s is to pine for it, which is why the company does a booming business shipping $10 pints on dry ice all over the country to houses like mine.

“That’s nice,’’ I replied, sweating profusely now. “Where are they selling it?’’

“Fresh Market. In Hingham.’’

Pause for effect here. And now allow me to describe the last time I was in Hingham. It was spring, and the town was alive with blooming dogwoods and bulging tulips as I strolled into the public library to see a cartoon exhibit that more than a few people told me not to miss.

Bygones are just that, so no more hard feelings about all the Izod-attired Hingham snots who used to yell slurs from mommy’s Volvo at Weymouth kids coming and going from these things called jobs. Gone, too, are the days when Hingham’s talent for shooting its own foot would occasionally be highlighted in the space you’re reading now.

You’ll notice, for instance, that I never touched the fact that Hingham basically declared war last winter on its nicer, less litigious neighbor, Cohasset, after officials there had the gall to approve a wind turbine on private land far from any homes. Likewise, I didn’t spend a drop of ink chronicling the “Eruption on Independence Lane,’’ where infuriated neighbors demanded hearings and, ultimately, “no parking’’ signs, to prevent - brace yourselves - a few parents from waiting for their kids to get out of the school across the street.

It’s even been a while since I rolled out this little gem: What do you call a fashionable woman in Hingham? Lost.

So there I am giggling at the terrific cartoons that cover a library wall and fill several binders, all drawn by a wry artist named Al Kearney and published over the years in the Hingham Journal. There were cartoons poking fun at the town’s love of lawsuits, cartoons pointing out some people’s disdain for the commuter train, cartoons calling attention to Hingham’s love of self. Al is brilliant.

And then I came across a cartoon showing a vaguely familiar pot-bellied guy with a cowlick that had me slapping my knee. What a clown. I edged closer to see who he was, closer still, until there they were, the words: “Brian McGrory.’’ Then there was the cartoon with the $6 “McGrory special’’ haircut that was causing a stir all over town. There was the cartoon with me counting the number of SUVs around (“Ooh, a Land Rover’’). Hey, I’ve done that.

The smile was still frozen on my face as I casually tiptoed on out before all the men with their over-the-shoulder sweaters realized I was ever around, off to my native Weymouth for some of the world’s best pizza in Jackson Square. They actually like my haircut there, and nobody’s shelling out the full six bucks.

So this is my new definition of mixed emotions: Graeter’s, in Hingham. What did I ever do to deserve this?

McGrory is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

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