Most days, the sweat begins to prickle your neck as soon as you open the front door. The four steps to the car feel like a jaunt in a swampy Sahara. By 2 p.m., the only escape is inside a freezing ice cream parlor, preferably one with quaint wooden benches and vehemently Italian décor. Unlike the tin-can-flavored, nonfat frozen crap that usually comes out of ice cream machines, at Rita's, the creamy vanilla custard is smooth and startling rich. After a few bites, you start to remember summers that were not so punishing — lazy, chlorine-scented days, eating microwave pizza and choreographing dances to Paula Abdul. A few more spoonfuls, and you might be willing to brave the sunshine again.