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Conversations with an Ice Cream Man

July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day, my blogbabies.  The fourth of July promises to be big business for me, so I’m really geared up for it.  I have mentioned my ice cream business before, but just in case you missed that blog (seriously?  It was like a week ago!), here’s a brief recap.  No, I don’t have an ice cream factory… or an ice cream truck.  Instead, I have a sweet little push cart.  Here’s an actual picture of my little carrito de paletas (that’s Spanish for popsicle wagon… which definitely sounds better in Spanish now that I think of it)

“Hey!!! Cool Pops!!” “Oh YEAH!” Oh, wait. No. That whole thing is borderline copyright infringement… Forget I typed that.

I’ve only been doing this for a little over a month and a half, but I can already tell you this: being a push cart vendor in a relatively small town leads to some strange conversations.  I don’t think I’d get into these sorts of conversations if I drove an ice cream truck.  I mean, you really don’t get to appreciate how batshit crazy a person is if you merely toss some ice cream through a window, slam your foot on the gas, and get the fuck outta there (I assume this is how the ice cream trucks do business…).  You need to be stuck behind a heavy ass pushcart to really appreciate the complete insanity of the person who stands before you.

So this is a brief memoir of a handful of strange, funny, or just socially awkward conversations which I have been drawn into as an ice cream man.  After today, I’m sure I’ll have many more stories to tell.

Body By Ice Cream

This conversation took place between myself and a precocious youngster at the city pool.  The pool has been one of the better stops for my cart.  I usually get there right at closing time, so I can entice the greatest number of people at once.  And, let’s face it, swimming gives you the munchies in a way few other legal activities can.

Kid: Diamondbacks, huh?  I like the Diamondbacks!

On this particular day I happened to be wearing an old pinstripe Arizona Diamondbacks jersey which only recently began to fit me again.  But conversations like this one, where a person is trying to endear themselves to me without actually approaching my cart, usually end with the phrase “can I get free ice cream?”

Me: Me, too.  Obviously, since I AM wearing the jersey.

Kid:  That’s the retro jersey, huh?

Me:  Well, yeah, you could say that.  It wasn’t retro when I bought it, though.

Kid: Really?  When did you buy it?

Me: Hmmm… either 2000 or 2001.  Back when they were wearing the teal and purple still.

Kid: DANG!  You’ve had it that long and it still fits you?  You must work out!

Me: YEAH I DO!  I push a 200 pound ice cream cart through the streets in 110 degree heat!

Kid: (laughing) Oh yeah!  I guess that is a bit of a work out.  I never thought about it that way.

Me: Hell yeah it is.  Body by ice cream!

At this point I struck a couple of flexing poses like some half-ass Mr. Universe contestant.  Mostly because I had no other customers around the cart to interact with, and schmoozing never hurts sales.  If nothing else, maybe somebody else would take note and decide to buy some ice cream from me to lighten the load I was clearly not strong enough to be pushing.

Kid:  You’re pretty funny, ice cream man.  Can I get a free sample?

See.  I told ya so.

Not That Racist, Anyway

When pushing a little ice cream cart around the neighborhoods of a small town, one starts to get regular customers.  They’ll wave at me and smile, and ask my name after they’ve seen me a couple of times, and in return I learn their names and what their favorite treats are.  Sometimes, though, I question the motives behind some of my sales.  There’s an older woman who speaks with a slight twang of southern drawl which reminds me of North Carolina, where I grew up.  We’ll call her Lenore, because that’s her name and I seriously doubt she reads this blog.  Anyway, Lenore is retired, and lives with three men who seem to be about her same age… and for the life of me I can’t really wrap my head around the whole living arrangement (and probably don’t want to, anyway).  But there are always four cars parked at the house, one of which is a green pickup truck with a Confederate flag sticker on the back window.  I’m not judging.  Just sayin’.  Lenore and I recently had this exchange.

Lenore: When do you think you’ll be back this way, Todd?

Me: I’m guessing Tuesday.  I have to be at the other side of town for baseball tomorrow night, then the night after that I’m selling down toward the library.  I’m taking Sunday off and on Monday I’m back at the baseball field on the far side of town again.

Lenore: Okay.  I’ll see you on Tuesday then.  We prefer buying from you over the ice cream trucks.

Me: Oh, good!  I’m glad to hear it, Lenore.

Lenore: Especially that white truck with the Kuwaiti driver.

I may have … inadvertently … glanced at the Confederate flag sticker on the pickup truck.  Maybe.  I’m not certain of that.  What I AM certain of is that a bit of an uncomfortable silence settled in, where I couldn’t for the life of me think of a reasonable phrase to escape from the current conversation.

Me: (Clearing my throat) Oh… huh.

Lenore: Oh, you know.  Not because I’m racist… it’s because he’s an asshole.

I laughed.  Partly because she got me out of the uncomfortable pause I found myself in.  Partly because this 70-something-year-old woman had just uttered the word “asshole” with the same southern lilt with which she said “y’all” or “pineapple-cherry pops” (her favorite treat).  And partly, because at the back of my brain, I realized she really didn’t exclude herself from being a racist.  She doesn’t like THIS guy because he’s an asshole… it has nothing to do with her being a racist… which she still may or may not be.  Also… Kuwaiti?  It’s just so SPECIFIC.  How did she know the guy was from Kuwait?  Did she have some in depth conversation about his country of origin before deciding he was an asshole, or was that her go-to nationality for any person from the middle-east?  I may never know…

I’m Bringin’ Sexy Back… to Ice Cream

Woman:  Yoo-hoo!!  Oh sexy ice cream man!

This, folks, is how one particular customer flagged me down.  It was possibly the hottest day of the year, and sweat was pouring off me as I walked.  And when someone from Arizona tells you it’s really hot outside… IT’S REALLY HOT OUTSIDE.  It was well over 110, and in fact was over 115 when I left out to do my rounds.  I was actually trying to quicken my pace and get my cart back home to plug it back in because the ice cream was starting to feel a little soft.  But this particular (cat)call froze me in my tracks.  Frankly, I had NEVER had any person EVER call out “Yoo-hoo” to me, let alone throw the adjective “sexy” about whilst yelling from their front porch.

And.  I.  Blushed.  Oh you bet I did.  I mean, with the sunburn and flushed cheeks that are pretty commonplace when pushing an ice cream cart around in the Arizona heat, you totally couldn’t tell.  But this woman had just called me sexy, and that had thrown me well off my game.

I smiled and schmoozed as best I could and in the end she walked away with over $10 in ice cream treats.  I concluded the sale and thanked her, and as I rolled my cart along and resumed my pace, it hit me.  What if it wasn’t ME she was calling sexy.  What if it was the ICE CREAM.  After all, it was 115 out.  The contents of my cart might have seemed as sexy as David Hasselhoff in a Speedo* to her in that moment.  And that adjective was absolutely dangling out there.

And I was now blushing more.  Blushing because I had blushed, because I thought I had been called sexy, when I might not have.  And because of this, I suddenly realized: It’s happened. I’m as batshit crazy as they are.

* David Hasselhoff in a Speedo was an age-appropriate sex symbol for this particular woman.  For those of you born in the 80’s, please substitute “Brad Pitt in boxers.”  For those of you born in the 90’s please substitute “Robert Pattinson in skinny jeans.”  For those of you born in the 2000’s, please don’t read my blog.  Seriously.  I’m not at all comfortable with that.

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7 Comments
  1. I am laughing my butt off over here. People are nuts.

  2. I almost died reading your footnote. So funny. And true.

    • Haha… I know, right? Personally, I’m not REALLY all that comfortable with the Robert Pattinson in skinny jeans set, either.

  3. Pushing an ice cream cart in Arizona heat is the most badass job I’ve ever heard of. No, really. It hits 80 in NJ, and I’m sitting in front of an air conditioner panting next to my dogs. I shall call you Ice Cream Ninja in my head moving forward.

    Hugs!

    Valerie

    • Holy crap. Ice cream ninja. I really wish I had thought of that one!

      *poof!* (That’s the sound of me disappearing in a cloud of freezer fog)

      • You NEED to get those ninja poof pellets that they use in movies. I’m sure you can get them at any local ninja store.

        Anyway, as soon as someone starts an awkward conversation that you want to no longer be a part of, yell “OMG! IS THAT ELVIS?!” Then drop a pellet and run like mad down the street.

        The best part will be that you really don’t disappear. Once the smoke clears you’ll still be in view running down the street.

        …. I actually may just do this at work. There are SO many people there I don’t want to talk to. But I work in insurance… So, that goes without saying.

        Think about it… ;o)

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