Perhaps one of the greatest sounds known is that of the ice cream truck. Those ringing bells and cheesy, canned music are pure delight to everyone. When we (the fam and me) heard the bells, we leapt from our nearly comatose couch-stranded states and grabbed our cash. It’s been hot lately, and the DQ is a fair walk. Myself, I’m gunning for a classic Revel — a thin crust of chocolate encasing a somewhat edible ice cream center. Short of that, I’d settle for the classic of all classics: a drumstick. The Kid digs the ‘Sticks, so that’s what it’ll be for her. The Wife, bless her grounded heart, can’t eat sugar. Bugger for her. Sadly, the days of dickie dee ice cream wranglers tricycles are long gone. How I miss the wailing of those sacred chimes and the pleasant temperament of the kids who drove them (how many times did you buy a popsicle just to see if the stick would reveal “freebie”?). These days, it’s those silly little ice cream trucks with the cheeseball tunes blaring. We roll up to the truck and the driver looks normal enough. Two kids from down the road have joined us, cash in dirty summer hands, eight-mile smiles across their faces. The ice cream wrangler speaks.
We’ve got twelve fucking kinds kids, what’s up?
I’m all for the f-bomb. God knows if passes to heaven are given out on the basis of clean language, I’m out. Down the pipe with no repeal. But when you’re dealing with kids it’s a bit different. “What can I get you, little fucker?” The one young kid from down the street looks somewhat stunned by this guy’s apparent lack of appropriate diction. The guy takes the kid’s money and thanks him. “How about you,” he says to me and Justine, “what the fuck can I get you?” Now, The Kid is a teenager and hears this stuff all time. Still. “Hey man, how about toning down the language, there are kids around here.” No change in his demeanor or tone. “All right, what the fuck you want?” He’s not hostile. Just completely clueless. Or has a weird case of Tourettes. “I’ll have a Revel. Couple of Drumsticks for the lasses here.” Cracks the freezer and pulls out what I asked for. “Nine seventy fuckin’ five, man.” Justine and I exchange the look. Grab the popsicles.
“Here’s ten fucko, keep the fuckin’ change.”
“Thanks a fuck!”
We take our treats inside and resume our attempt at surviving this heat. Wonder about that guy and what’ll happen when he says something to wrong person. Could be real interesting.
Donnan School, King Edward Park, Edmonton, July 2007
StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.
The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?