Ice Cream Van
INT KITCHEN DAY
A boy - (about 5) - sits at kitchen table in foreground eating beans on toast. A younger boy - a toddler (2) - stands on a long cardboard box in the background, smiling at the camera and eating some kind of toaster pastry.
They eat in silence.
The toddler takes a step forward, his loses his footing on the edge of the box and collapses. He lies still, phased but unhurt.
Haha. Oh gosh.
SFX: Ice Cream Truck Music begins - the tune of “Yankee Doodle”
The Ice Cream-!
He trips getting out of his seat with a crash, holding his baked beans on toast aloft, and lands next to a soccer ball.
Hahahahah. [F**k.] OH MY GO-
I’ve watched this more than 25 times in the past hour.
Why? This video, I propose, is an alignment of the universe resulting in perfect comedy, and - moreover - wonderment.
I want to address the thing that I think really sends this funny video into the stratosphere of tragicomedy and that is the camera person. I initially assumed this third person was the mother of the children, but after repeat viewing, I think the voice sounds more like that of a pubescent boy. Let’s assume he is babysitting his two younger brothers. He’s made them snack. Pocket pastry for the toddler, baked beans on toast for the 5 year old. Now he’s got nothing to do, so he turns on his camera (BTW the quality of this video is very high). For sixteen seconds the two boys eat happily. The toddler stares and smiles into the camera as the other crunches into his beans on toast and wipes his nose.
At the sixteenth second the toddler steps forward, off of the cardboard box he was perched on and he rolls his ankle beneath him. He topples over without any attempt to brace himself and lays on his side with one of his legs floating above the other. He truly seems not to mind this sudden rearrangement. Standing, lying prone, it’s all the same to him.
The baked bean brother is completely unaware of the unintentional bit of hilarity behind him and continues eating until at second eighteen the first notes of “Yankee Doodle” can be heard, presumably played by a passing ice cream truck.
The boy lights up and with a voice made viscous and gravelly from baked beans on toast he announces “The Ice Cream-!!!!!” Before he can finish he, too, topples off his chair with a satisfying crashing sound. In the background the youngest brother has gotten to his feet. Baked Bean Brother lies next to a soccer ball. And realizing what happened begins to wail.
This is at second 22. A mere 4 seconds after his brother’s fall and only 2 seconds after hearing “Yankee Doodle.”
The cameraperson - our surrogate - breathes the F word (I think) then begins to laugh. And then, for me, what is the icing on the cake moment of the video occurs:
Like a sonic boom after a jet plane, the reality of what has just happened AND what he has just captured on film catches up to the babysitting brother. He shouts “OH MY GO-” and the video stops.
Just twenty seven seconds. Sixteen of which are just kids eating snack.
Within the babysitting brothers “OH MY GO-” is everything that makes humans human. Shock at the events that had just occurred. Joy at witnessing it. Disbelief that he had captured it. And, I propose, a deeper recognition at the massive invisible machinations that some think of as the wheel of fortune, or fate, or karma.
Yes this video is twenty seven seconds long. It could have been only eleven. But what truly is the first event of this video? The toddler falling? The sound of the crunching of Toast? The moment the camera is turned on?
What about the unseen events? The placement of the long thin cardboard box on the kitchen floor. It seems like an Ikea HEMNES Shelf box, What about the recognition within the household that a new shelve was required? Or the purchasing of items that would lead to this storage impasse? You see where I am going - to the meeting of the parents of these children and their decision to begin and continue a family, the health of these babies, and the doctors and nurses that assisted them along the way etc. etc.
Furthermore: external to the events within their home, we have the wildcard of the ice cream truck driver. How long had he been driving that day, what events led him to turn on his music exactly two seconds after the toddler’s funny fall?
All of these possibilities and potentialities pass through the oldest brothers mind and he breathes the word “Fuck.” The “Fuck” moment is the exact moment this boy’s eyes are opened to the infinite magnitude of the world. He says “Fuck” to himself, but then he appeals to the universe, realizing his tiny tiny spot in it, and realizing too, how lucky he was to occupy his own tiny spot: a hearty “OH MY GO-“
Incidentally, this exclamation really puts an excellent button on the video. It cuts out at the moment of maximum energy. He is the only one who has seen all of the events and they slam into him with the force of an ice cream van.
When the tape ends, I imagine the babysitting brother setting down the camera. He checks on his fallen weeping brother. He hugs him. He helps him up. Maybe he soothes him by taking both brothers’ hands and walking outside to purchase some ice cream. He was going to spend the money on something else, does it even matter what, now? “Two Drumsticks, please,” he says. The baked beans on toast brothers wipes his eyes, and then his snotty and beany mouth. Back inside, the younger boys sit on the floor in the playroom, housing their Drumsticks. While in the kitchen the older boy cleans the beaked beans on toast off the floor. He sits at the kitchen table. He texts a girl he likes.
This is a very special time and maybe no one knows it. A great internet treasure lays waiting in his camera, like a killer shark at the bottom of the ocean. The young boys have forgotten by now - and were oblivious, anyway - to the gift they will give to the world. The older boy was distracted by his duties as caretaker.
Now he thinks. He sets down his smartphone and looks at the camera sitting across from him. The camera stares blankly ahead. He picks it up. He presses play. He watches it again. And again. He laughs. He puts his hand on his mouth. He finds the USB cord. He goes to the computer, sits down, and connects us with the fingerprint of the universe.