O, Mr Softee! We live 50 feet from an excellent old-school Brooklyn ice cream shop, but there’s still something about those trucks that makes a kid’s pulse surge.
I remember the horrible twist of emotions when I heard that tinny “Pop Goes the Weasel,” echoing down the alley when I was a kid. The endlessly-looping jangle of music made us all drooling Pavlov dogs, begging change as we hopped up and down in every kitchen and yard within earshot. I knew the chances of extorting ice cream money from my mom were slim, but the reward if I succeeded: Twist cones, sprinkles, flag-striped popsicles shaped like rockets, horribly synthetic, crunchy, layered ice cream bars whose higher price made sly promises of greater pleasure….
I usually give the kid the cash and let him scamper to the truck, maybe more proof of the decline in parenting and the rise of entitlement. Nah, it doesn’t need to be taken so seriously. It’s just ice cream and it makes him happy.
Yesterday his mom picked him up from school and they both walked in with chocolate mustaches. Despite the frigid January weather, they’d indulged. The corner shop is closed, the trucks are nowhere to be found, so I guess they dipped into the freezer at the bodega. It made me think, though. Where do the trucks go in the winter? Do they burrow into their garages like frogs in the frozen mud, cocooned in a second skin of dried soft serve? Do they migrate to the Sun Belt in convoys, following the geese and the retirees?
Uh oh! That was unexpected. To clarify, Ben throws signs like a sort of Jay-Z-meets-ASL-translator-meets-Freemason-secret-handshake and says “Mr YO gurt, like YO YO YO, get it?”