Deleted but Not Forgotten

Jenny Nelson


Ty Dolla $ign, a $elf-de$cribed "real fucking music nerd pyscho," collaborates. He's worked with Kanye, Lil Wayne, and Charli XCX, to name an extremely select few, and recently with John Mayer, a dream collab he's spoken of for years in interviews you can (2013) still (2015) find (2016) online (2017). I learned of his love for Mayer, however, through one perfect tweet you can't find: an image of Ty with YG (another Ty collaborator) and their daughters, all four dressed in all white, Ty sitting on a white amp, playing a white guitar. But wait for the caption! "Fathers be good to your daughters / Daughters will love like you do..." it reads, quoting John Mayer's Grammy award-winning single "Daughters." Recently, I went to share this tweet and found it survives only through broken-link RTs and fans tweeting the image with their own comments. One can see the caption, it seems, or the image, but not together. Panicked, I rushed to look for Dolla $ign’s Thai ice cream content. Gone, too.

NYC's first Thai-inspired ice cream roll store 10Below opened in 2015. "Bubble tea is so over," Forbes reported the following year. "The cool new trend in Asian sweets is Thai rolled ice cream." Apart from the racially sensitive generalization, I find this report inaccurate, and NYC-style rolled ice cream unremarkable, personally.

What's most intriguing about rolled ice cream is the spectacle of its preparation. After a customer orders, they watch an ice cream artist pour custard onto a frozen slab and use metal spatulas resembling paint scrapers to mix in fruit, candy, or cookies. Then the artist rolls the ice cream, packing those rolls into a cup covered in toppings of the customer’s choice. It's made for Instagram and costs around six to ten USD. Ever the penny pincher, I order myself the cheapest cup, which of course is the least grammable. My cup is worthless.

Dolla $ign can afford the grammable cups. Sometime around October 2017, he began to post them in stories and tweets. The distance between then and now, plus the sheer insignificance of this activity, the food, and the posts about it, clouds my memory. I can’t remember if he went to other spots or just 10Below, nor do I remember how frequently he went. In my mind, it’s all the time. All that's saved on my phone is three screenshots. At the time, I posted at least three on my own Instagram story, updating my followers as if it were breaking news. I RT'd all his rolled ice cream tweets to keep people in the know. At least one friend listened. When his verse in “Work From Home,” his song with Fifth Harmony, played at my friends’ wedding reception, she turned to me and asked, “Is this the ice cream guy?” At the time, I answered yes but now, I feel unsure.

It’s not just the ice cream and John Mayer ephemera he’s deleted, but they’re the ones I remember and miss. While none of his stories (impermanent) or tweets (deleted) remain, their existence is confirmed to me by the weirdest of witnesses, like fan accounts for Fifth Harmony's Lauren Jauregui, Ty Dolla $ign's girlfriend, whom he met on the set of the “Work From Home” video. One tweet I found includes a video of Jauregui from Dolla $ign’s Instagram story. The tweet is interested in Jauregui’s presence on Dolla $ign’s account, and what it might mean. I’m just looking for the rolls.

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Jenny Nelson is a writer and comedian whose work has been featured on The Hairpin, Funny or Die, and Splitsider. She is also co-host of a live monthly comedy and lecture series called The Simple Show in Ridgewood, Queens.