Soft serve pastoral

Benny and I visited our friends Peter and Sally this weekend in the Valley. We don’t see them enough, and so I’m sure we overstayed our welcome (we actually invited ourselves over), but they were very gracious as they always are and insisted that we stay until the ice cream man came by.

The sun went down, we had eaten as many hot dogs and slices of grilling cheese as we could possibly cram into our stomachs, and still there was no ice cream man. “He comes at night,” Sally explained. Hm. “It’s soft serve!” Okay. We would have to see this ice cream man with his mysterious night-time soft serve.

Some time after 7 pm, we were playing dice games in the backyard when Peter and Sally’s heads shot up. “The ice cream man!” They sprinted toward the back gate that opened onto an alley. Benny and I heard nothing. No tinkling music, no slowly choogling motor, nothing.

Peter climbed halfway over the gate and started waving desperately. A van sped by. Peter waved more broadly as Sally shouted. “It’s okay, he’ll come around again.” Either the first time or the second time around (he was going really fast), the van driver finally stopped well past the gate and backed up to us. Peter managed to get the gate open. And that is where we saw this ice cream truck.

There was something otherworldly about this truck, there was no denying it. The extensive menu including full dinner selections, the night-time silent speeding through alleyways – this was some secret and precious thing. Secret and precious even without a pastoral scene on the side panel of children swimming and playing

and enjoying ice cream and Cheetos

but of course this truck had that too. And yes, the soft serve was amazing.

Maybe this was all just a dream. If it was, thanks for the dream, Peter and Sally.

Cartoons and uncomfortable situations

Yesterday was a confusing day. I picked up an odd job via one of those sites you pick up odd jobs from – my job was to pick up someone’s comforter, wash it at a laundromat, and return it – and I got stood up. I showed up where I was supposed to pick up the blanket, buzzed the apartment buzzer, and there was no answer. I texted the client – no answer. Neighbors came in and out of the apartment complex and offered to let me in, but nobody knew who this person was that I was supposed to meet. I stayed outside and texted again. I buzzed the buzzer again. And texted. And buzzed. I got in my car and texted again after fifteen minutes, and then after a half hour. Nothing.

After about an hour, I left and texted the client that I had left. I finally got a text back – “Buzz the buzzer. utdm.” Not knowing what utdm meant (under the door mat? up the down move?) I responded that I had tried buzzing the buzzer several times but had left. Then I got one last text that made no sense. I reported the situation to member services for the site and cancelled the job.

I was a little freaked out as I wasn’t sure if I had just escaped a mugging situation or what, so I parked my car while I calmed down, and noticed that I was in front of my favorite local swap meet store, but all of the store front art was different. The drawings of tricycles and bleach and mittens with eyeballs had been replaced with a mural of cartoon characters. I recognized some of them,

but I wasn’t sure why Tweety Bird was carrying a caveman club,

I didn’t know who this toddler was or why he was drinking a beer,

and the only thing I could guess this guy was supposed to be

was the elusive Number One from The Prisoner. When I came across the Shroud of Turin with a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos bag above it,


I was ready to call it a day.

Now that I’ve had time to reflect on it, I’m thinking that this no-show laundry job was nothing sinister but just the modern equivalent of a prank call, but what kind of lame prank is that? It’s as much a mystery to me as Flamin’ Hot Jesus.


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