CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
Pine Street, Langley Park, Co. Durham, UK.
See that spot there? That's the street I spent the first seven years of my life. That's where one of my early Star Wars related traumas took place. I say "one of", I don't have that many. And I say "trauma", it's not like I've become a crazed killer, stalking seedy bars with a Greedo mask and a gun, determined to shoot first. And in all honesty, it's only marginally Star Wars related, it could have happened anyway without SW's involvement.
Look, I still remember it 32 years later. It's got to count for something, right?
The year was '78 or '79. It was summer because the ice cream van was coming round (if I recall correctly, it was Citrone's of Langley Park, although if this ever goes to court, I may retract that as a definite statement. I know that Citrone's was the regular company based in Langley Park with an actual shop as well as a van, but there may have been other interlopers, vying for business). I asked my mam if I could have some Star Wars bubblegum from the ice cream man (because of those awesome Topps trading cards that came with them). She said yes, and gave me some money to go and get it. I went to get it.
Now, given that I was either 5 or 6, I can't remember the conversation exactly (which will also make this case fall down in court), but here's the general gist of it:
Me: Can I have some Star Wars bubbly, please?
Man: Oh, you don't want bubbly, wouldn't you rather have an ice cream instead?
Me: No, I'd like some Star Wars bubbly.
Man: Here, I'll do you an ice cream...
*the man proceeds to hand a confused child an ice cream and take the money from his meek, trembling hand*
Me: Do I get any change?
Man: No, the money was right for the ice cream.
You're probably thinking one of two things. Firstly, that I've made that more melodramatic than it actually was, or secondly, that the ice cream man was an absolute bastard. If you're thinking the first one, you're pretty much wrong. That's essentially what happened.
If you're thinking the second one, then you should consider a career in carpentry, dear reader, because you've hit the nail right on the head, there.
I seem to recall there were tears when I went back home with an ice cream I didn't want and no change. Not because I was told off, just because I wanted some Star Wars bubbly and I'd been swindled by a van driving bastard. I don't recall what the resolution was. I think my mam had a go at him the next time he came round, but I can't be sure. I also don't recall if I ever attempted to get Star Wars bubbly from the van again (or even if I was enthusiastic about getting anything from him, after that). One thing I do know, is that I never had a substantial collection of Star Wars trading cards. Maybe that guy nipped it in the bud? Maybe that swerved me over to action figure collecting? Maybe I should be thanking him? (although I doubt that.)
We moved house in 1980, and had a different ice cream man then. When The Empire Strikes Back came around, there was a sticker album set to promote it. The local newsagent sold the stickers, and I got them from there (and completed the album, no less). At no point did the newsagent attempt to sell me anything other than what I'd asked for.
...What kind of a-hole does this? Is it any wonder that I covet my collection so much? Having been denied the objects of my desire at that formative age, a grim determination set in. No way was I going to be told what I can and can't collect by a man who sells ice cream for a living. When I grow up, not only will I have a career which is viable in the Winter months as well as the Summer, but I'll use the disposable income to buy all the trading cards I like. I may not even swap my doubles! I may actually collect two full sets!. One for upstairs, one for downstairs. I might use the chewed bubblegum to build an effigy of an ice cream salesman and use it for target practice in the hot summer months, and cool down by eating some delicious frozen youghurt that I've bought from a supermarket (truth? I don't do any of those).
Maybe he was collecting the cards himself? He didn't seem the type (he had to be in his 50's even then), but as we all know, fandom has no boundaries, that's one of its great strengths. I honestly hope that if the ice cream van driver is still alive, he's sitting in a comfy armchair, a clock gently ticking on the mantle. As he thinks back over his life, a slight regret colouring his memories, I want his eyes to come to rest on the massive frame on the opposite wall. In that frame, I want there to be a complete set of Topps 1977 Star Wars trading cards.
I want him to look upon those cards and think to himself "...that makes it all worthwhile. My terrible deeds; denying children trading cards; stealing them from their bags in the playground; that time I broke into the wholesalers to get a box and had to kill that security guard... all vindicated over that beautiful framed set of vintage Star Wars trading cards. In fact, the only thing I've traded for them... is my very soul".
I hope that's the case. Because if that old man doesn't have a full set, then nothing good will have come out of this sorry mess.
...Actually, I retract my statement at the start, this might be a trauma after all.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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