It was less than a mile away. I had been waiting for this for days. By now the word had gotten out that the Cool Haus truck, known through all the land as a distributer of gourmet ice cream sandwiches, was going the way of credit reports and ringtones for the week. You heard right. Due to a sponsorship by USA, in a very “cool” move (hold for laughs, or giggles, or awkward silence in the absence of both), all week this mobile dessertery was giving it up for free.
Which is good, because I pretty much never have cash. Now that you can buy a 5 cent tile of Bazooka Joe gum on a debit card, cash has become sort of extinct in my life. Believe me, that fact really comes home to roost when I am faced with a parking meter. Desperate scrounging occurs, much huffing and puffing, and I usually wind up peeling a nickel from the perpetually sticky bottom of the irresponsibly sized cup holder below the dash. Gross for me, and I’m sure, gross for the meter maids.
Back to ice cream sandwiches. Less than a mile away. I knew it was over at 6pm, but this is LA, and time doesn’t seem to apply here. As soon as my class ended I raced to my car across 4 lanes of traffic. (It doesn’t sound like a lot now that I write it, but it certainly felt death-defying at the time.) It was exactly like the scene in Atlantic City when Susan Sarandon runs down the boardwalk with the radio blasting opera in her purse-sans boardwalk, sans radio, sans opera. Boils down to running, actually.
The traffic at this hour was pretty horrible, as you might imagine, but in a moment of bizarrely convenient soundtrackery, Tom Petty fueled me onward with “I Won’t Back Down.” Nor will I, Tom. Nor. Will. I. As I squealed around the corner, through what I will always remember as a yellow light, no matter what the cameras reveal, I spotted my prey. Parked innocently on a quiet street. No line. YES. No Line! Wait, no line. No line? This can’t be good. This is bad. Free ice cream sandwiches, and no line. What can this mean?!!
I pulled into an oversize parking spot on an unnecessary diagonal, bypassed the sticky nickel, and raced to the shutting window just in time for: “Sorry guys, that’s it for today.”
Now for a little trip down ice cream sandwich memory lane. When I was a kid, ice cream sandwiches were sold in the school cafeteria for 50 cents. Having no debit card yet, I made the cash purchase on a regular basis. Two chocolate cookie planks that were miraculously never soggy, holding captive a brick of basic, unbeatably vanilla ice cream. I’m really not a picky eater at all, but there are some things that I like to eat with a certain ritual. For example I like the Newton, but not the Fig. So I eat the Newton, and leave the Fig. It’s about as athletic as I get. And I like to eat the ice cream in an ice cream sandwich first, and then eat the remaining cookies, now just a double-decker cookie.
Visions of a younger me with my 50 cent delicacy swam in my thought bubble until I shouted, “Where are you going next?!” Which is how I found myself sitting in a shopping center parking lot, staking out the truck’s next location. I beat it there by 10 minutes. I’m not proud.