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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

With the arrival of spring and its legions of tourons in Your Nation’s Capital also has come the reappearance of the ice cream truck fleet.  For whatever reason, it seems to Ol’ Robbo that there are more of them parked around town this year than previously.  (Actually,  more food trucks in general.  I dunno if this is due to a relaxation in regulations or a booming market or some combination of both.)

I know several of them within my immediate vicinity and can follow their movements from one spot to another by their signature tunes blaring out over their loudspeakers, much the way I follow birds from the porch of Port Swiller Manor.  There’s one that plays “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”.  Another seems to be trying to corner the high-brow market with a selection from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”.  A third offers up an old song called “Red Wing” which I happen to know only because The Dook and Lee Marvin give a drunken (and historickally impossible) rendition of it in “The Comancheros“, a favorite movie of mine.  And then there’s the one that plays  a portion of Joplin’s “The Entertainer”, which frankly makes me grind my teeth in memory of every kiddie piano recital in which I was made to participate during my misspent yoot.  (I never learned it myself – the Joplin piece I studied was the “Maple Leaf Rag” – but some other kid always, always played it. And poorly, too.)

I hear all of these (and others) both during my lunchtime walks and also as I slog out of the City during my afternoon commute.  And what I can’t help wondering is this:  Even a few moments of listening to the same ten second loop of blaring, metallic, synthesized musick over and over and over and over again makes me start to twitch.  How the heck do the fellahs who run these trucks stand hours of it without flipping out?

I suppose they just manage to blot it all out, somehow.  (What are the pot laws in Dee Cee these days? Pretty lax if I’m not mistaken.)  Pretty sure I wouldn’t make it through my first day without suddenly seizing an ice-cream scoop and running amok up and down the Mall, laying into everyone I could reach.

UPDATE: Speaking of ice cream brings to the surface an amusing (to me, at any rate) recollection from my time at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT.  I had the same roommate my junior and senior years.  In many respects, we could not have been more opposite.  I was a conservative, Christian, traditionalist jock from South Texas.  He was a 90-pound Jewish liberal from Jersey.  (Our arguments over Jim Morrison, for example, were epic.  Roommate: “He was a visionary genius!”  Self: “He was a goddam hippy punk!”)

What made it work was the fact that we had very, very similar senses of humor.  He put me on to Firesign Theatre, for example, which I find quite clever and amusing even if it is hippy stream-of-consciousness drug humor. In return, I broadened his Monty Python exposure.  One of our favorite practices was to buy the Weekly World News and to cut up and rearrange the headlines, thus making them even stranger than the originals.  These we would tape to our hall door for the benefit of our hallmates.  (I lived on a very radical leftist hall.  They never could quite decide what to make of me, in large part because of things like this.)

More to the point, the only class we ever took together was a basic Macro Econ class.  It was taught by a native-Polish prof who studied in Britain.  Where other econ profs used the word “widgets” to describe a basic unit of production, this prof used “ice cream”, I suppose in an effort to engage our fleeting attention.  In order to get around the problem of breaking that commodity down into individual units, he would say “ice creams“.   My roommate and I both noticed this and both found it funny, especially as served up in a plummy Brit accent.  It got to the point that if we accidentally made eye-contact in class when the prof offered it up, we’d both break down in helpless giggles.

Ah, yoot.

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