Sunday, April 15, 2012

Strange Things Are Happening...

It was eighty degrees in the Bronx today. It felt like summer but smelled like spring—and an accelerated spring at that—which is an unnatural fusion that always makes me feel a bit off, even melancholy (although not to the degree of Civil War diarist Mary Chesnut). I don’t exactly know why. I suspect it’s got something to do with body chemistry, or maybe it just reminds me of my schooldays, when fleeting whiffs of summertime were transient reminders of what was in the offing or, worse yet, what had just passed. Perhaps these false summers underscored the hell I felt was experiencing. Looking back, I guess I didn’t like school all that much, although higher education certainly had its moments. But then we were finished with all that college stuff in the middle of May.

As I write these words, the scents of lilacs and some other spring shrubs that I can’t identify are wafting through my open window—again much earlier than they normally would be. A big ash tree just outside is greener than I‘ve ever seen it at this time of year. And, my pansies are already getting that stringy quality—typically a late spring phenomenon and byproduct of the increasingly hotter days of May and June.

Very soon in this most peculiar springtime, the Mister Softee truck will materialize and pull into a nearby driveway. I will then be compelled to listen as the franchisee chums for business with the Mister Softee jingle playing on a loop—way too loudly and for way too long in my opinion. And on top of all that, the fumes from the idling truck will quickly consume the natural spring fragrances in the ether. Yes, even Mister Softee began making his appointed rounds earlier this year.

A couple of years ago, I got on a Mister Softee milkshake kick for $4.50 a pop and, if one is to trust the truck's calorie chart, 450 calories a serving. During that period, the Mister Softee ambiance didn’t bother me in the least. In fact, I welcomed the sight, sounds, and smells as part of the abiding Mister Softee experience. Now that I've sworn off the milkshakes as too rich for my blood, it drives me bananas. Honestly, the Mr. Softee jingle plays in my ears long after the truck pulls away. It's insidious. But I am not Mayor Bloomberg, nor a member of the New York City council, who seem to know what's best for us on a whole host of fronts. I can live with Mister Softee and his music, just as I can with this spring—where strange things are happening.

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