I had it made as a kid. My parents were co-owners of a coin laundry, a bakery and then a Sub shop that also served ice cream. There were a few arcade games in the sub shop and Defender and Asteroids ate many of the quarters that were once my allowance. I was the living version of a kid in a candy store.
My dad also sold real estate during the same time period, so to say he had many irons in the fire is a gross understatement. His office was located conveniently up the street from the sub shop so I would bounce back and forth from each business and soon became a runner for the agent’s ice cream requests. I will never forget Ken Robinson. He was in his seventies, had white hair like Santa Claus and a severe penchant for mint chocolate chip ice cream. He and I became quick friends once I learned that he shared the same love for that minty, chocolate deliciousness as I did.
Every day, Ken would hand me his money and I would gladly run down the street to retrieve his afternoon treat. I ran in to the office one hot summer day to find Ken’s desk unattended. I asked the secretary where he was and she could not look me in the eye. Instead, I was told to talk to my father. Ken had died of a heart attack the night before. I was devastated. Ken had been the first person I had known who had died. After many days of tears and avoiding the office, I finally gathered the courage to go back. Carl was there with his ill-fitting sport coat and bad seventies mustache. I will never forget how nonchalant he was when he spoke to the 11-year old me and said, “You musta killed him with all that mint chocolate chip ice cream.”
I carried that burden with me to Ken’s funeral and for many years after. We went to the service as a family and I can still remember the dress I wore. We paid our respects to his family and approached his open casket. I was terrified that Ken’s wax-like body was going to sit upright, point at me at scream, “you did this to me”. I could barely breathe.
Now, as an adult, I still have difficulties at open-casket funerals. The logical side of my brain assures me that a deceased body cannot move, but the young girl and the writer in me still have that nagging doubt.
I can only hope that Carl eventually outgrew his horrendous mustache (and Herb Tarlek wardrobe) and learned to think before he spewed any further erroneous judgement on young, impressionable minds. Either that or he has had ten children and countless grandchildren of his own and Karma has finally paid him a visit!