I The April evening settles down with the smell of steaks in alleyways. From the Williamsburg Bridge I hike to Union Square. I turn back, and the pathway sways. It hangs like a catenary curve, a taffy rope swung in one slow spiral into thick braids. With muddy feet that press to late-nite coffee stands, we straggle over the sunset. A flood-tide licks below. He rode over Connecticut in an ice cream truck. Things have come to that. Chess hustlers smoking cigars smile at my Mister Softee cone. Ice cream in the shape of flowers and domestic objects is a swoosh of concupiscent shit. "Is that real ice cream?" The anarchist strokes his furzy beard. "I don't think so," I say, and eat my curds. II "When you hear it, it unleashes the little kid inside of you & i know I'm the only person who wants scream ICE CREAM!!!!!!!!" wrote Deborah daneliz R. "If you've ever had homemade local soft serve ice cream, then you would think that soft serve from Mister Softee is too thick, too sweet, and feels very commercialized—like it came from a huge bag mix," wrote Siv L. III There is a Mister Softee truck at Union Square that attracts American Appareled coeds. Ignore the crowd and elbow up to the faded window. Dip cones are available, just like the ones you licked on Montauk. Order a vanilla cone. It is great. Luscious slurps of cream linger on the tongue. The first bite is like greased lightning. This is a fantastic spot to stop before an East Village siesta, and perhaps, it might be good for breakfast if you can find it after a fourth scotch and soda. IV This Union Square "hot spot" is a "gathering place for soft serve fanatics who don't care for artisanal spin-offs." Try "the original vanilla," which "pleases the kids and dad alike," or a "cherry dip" that "stands up to luxer treat trucks." V Fabulous Mister Softee: vintage truck from my childhood. plush vanilla, wafer cone, thick swirl. hot early summer downtown. I love the cold first bite. #Jubilant. VI Parked underneath a double blooming wisteria, by a dusty brick sagging wall where an old woman sat and watched and talked the town up with her brotherson, the Mister Softee truck jingled like a virtuous horse dragging around a coach. Yes, mute smiling child, who loved ice cream, let the afternoon drip down your shirt and smile while your mother pays the truck driver whose leathery grin makes you cold even though April is too hot already. VII A buzzy new Mister Softee truck has pulled up to Union Square. Amal Jafar Dragomirov, formerly of Masa, The Brindle Room, Noma, and Kutsher's Tribeca, spins bespoke cones with artisanal toppings. Vanilla soft serve with local mayonnaise, chili porchetta chocolate crumbles, Fritos, alder-smoked salt, sauerkraut, or gluten-free snickerdoodle streusel? Indulge your foodie cravings and order all of the above! VIII In the early summer of that year we lived in an apartment in New York City that looked across Union Square. The park was filled with tourists and policemen. I liked the Mister Softee truck very much, it was pleasant and made me feel very well. IX The primary theme of the Mister Softee truck is futility and absurdity. It could be said that the ice cream is interpolated into a postconceptual irrationalism that attacks the mimetic transparency of art. A number of lacunae concerning not, in fact, materialism, but neomaterialism, may be revealed. In a sense, the taste de-structs a mythopoetical paradox. X I ditch the spoon and dropper at the Union Square Station, run up the stairs, push a not half bad Ivy League type out of the way, and look for the Mister Softee Truck. Two old junkies are ahead of me in line. Spittle dribbles off their patchy chins, globs of slime. I am waiting patiently to score, but some foodie dick is holding everything up with something black and hungry in his eyes. XI The vanilla cone did not disappoint. I still prefer homemade, authentic ice cream, but with a dollop of flavorful caramel, the Mister Softee soft serve was sinful. Nom. Churned to perfection, this über-sinful dessert is to die for. XII The bells of Grace Church boomed out over Union Square, eleven strokes, each shaking the tips of lilacs, roses, and daffodils just poking out of earthy-sweet planters along the park edges. Everything came to a sudden stop, the throb of taxicabs and Occupy Wall Street drum circlers, and Terrance Chamberlain sampled his Mister Softee cone with an air of quiet detachment. XIII "This isn't as good as DQ." Jason Bell is a Columbia College junior majoring in English. In Defense of Delicious runs alternate Fridays.
Columbia Spectator Staff