Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Don't Mess With the Ice Cream Man

When I was a child, the whole neighborhood looked forward to a visit from the snow cone truck, or the Goodybar Man. (Why did we say Goodybar when the large words "Good Humor" were printed on the side of the truck?) The drivers of these trucks were all sorts of people -- ponytail hippies, older retired gents, ladies just slightly past childbearing years -- but none of them were the type who would flip out and attack a customer.

What, then, would provoke the Goodybar man to assault a patron while on his daily run? How about a teenager with a dirty mouth?

A Good Humor man was served 18 months' probation Tuesday for losing his cool with a foul-mouthed teenager.

Nazzareno Didiano, 44, stopped dishing out peanut butter bars and Blue Bunnies last May 12 and began pummeling a pudgy-faced Bloomfield teen during a meltdown.

The teen, now 14, told Allegheny County Judge John A. Zottola during a brief trial that Didiano grabbed him by the arm, yanked him from his bike, punched him in the face and slammed him into a wall.

The attack came after the boy berated and cursed Didiano over the cost of his cones.

This story would be funny if it didn't concern a kid getting hurt. What would have been wrong with mashing a cone on the kid's nose? What was the reasoning behind punching him and slamming him into a wall? If you had coned him, you might have suffered a reprimand at worst and avoided legal entanglements. Sticks and stones, pal, sticks and stones.

According to testimony, the Goodybar Man could not just leave well enough alone and went after his victim following their initial verbal exchange:

"I told him he didn't need any ice cream anyway because he's fat," said Didiano.

The teen, about 5-foot-5 and 140 pounds, responded by calling Didiano a "bald (expletive) ripoff." Didiano later attacked when he found the boy sitting on a bike two blocks away.

Evidently this guy was not cut out to be a Goodybar Man. Our 1970s Goodybar Men just loved selling Scooter Crunch Bars to overweight pre-adolescents such as myself. Why alienate your best customer demographic? Between the "fat" insult and the assault, the kid may well be scarred for life.
The teen giggled as Didiano recounted the obscenities directed at him.
Or maybe not. He still has his sense of pride. Things only seem bleak:

The teen's mother said she's satisfied with the verdict, but complained that her son is now self-conscious about his weight.

"This has been a nightmare," she said.

Madame, your son is at the age when many boys discover weightlifting as a hobby. The Goodybar incident could be the catalyst that will get the boy started in weight training. In a couple of years he could be a virtual Hercules, and then it will be the Goodybar Man's turn to have a nightmare.

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