01 June 2009

Dispatch from Suburbia: Rites of Summer

The ice cream truck that passes through the streets of Cape Despair in the summer plays only two tunes: a lugubrious rendition of 'Turkey in the Straw' and an equally lugubrious rendition of 'La Cucaracha.'

Neither has actually been transposed into a minor key, but it's hard to imagine that either could be more ponderously dismal than it already is. Transposition to minor keys might even improve them; a minor key would be more obviously in keeping with the funereal tempo.

It's also hard to imagine that either tune draws a crowd of smiling tots, eager to turn over a few dollars for a Drumstick® or a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar. My limited observations of the under-12 set on my own street confirm that suspicion. Most ignore it. A few turn away. I have never seen the driver stop to make a sale.

And yet, every summer weekend, year after year, the truck makes its rounds, adding its dolorous notes to the chorus of burring lawn mowers and swishing basketball nets. Perhaps there are those who will buy ice cream no matter what the truck plays. Perhaps there is more to driving an ice cream truck than selling ice cream.

1 comment:

  1. Or perhaps there is more to selling ice cream than just driving a truck through the neighborhood ;)

    I'm old enough to remember when ice cream carts/trucks played actual chimes. Now they play badly distorted tape recordings of chimes. Since tape recorders are fast becoming obsolete, I don't know why the current versions (on CD or something, I assume) sound just as bad. They're enough to make anyone with sensitive ears and half a music education wince. ;)


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