May 092011

The ice cream man came by my house on Saturday.  If you are as old as I am, or a lucky youngster who happens to live in one of the few neighborhoods he still visits, you have seen him before.  He drives a beat-up white van or panel truck with colorful pictures of frozen treats all over it.  Sometimes there’s a big clown hat on the top, and always, there is a loud speaker blaring out some corny tune.  Nine times out of ten, it’s “Turkey in the Straw.”

As he slowly cruises by each house, he hopes to draw the kids out with his music.  It sounds fun.  The truck looks colorful and exciting with pictures splashed on almost every inch.   And the ice cream . . . the ice cream he brings is . . . well . . . mediocre at best.   Sometimes old.  Sometimes half thawed.  Other times frozen so hard you can hardly bite it.    But that doesn’t stop the kids from running to the curb and waiting for the truck to come by, eager to purchase the mediocre ice cream from the ice cream man.  Why?

It’s an even stranger question when I admit that I am at times, still one of those kids.    Hear the tune.  See the truck go by, headed deep into the heart of the neighborhood.  Now run to the curb and wait.  He’s coming back on his way out.  I hear the music getting closer.  What will I get?  An ice cream sandwich?  A red white and blue “bomb-pop?”  One of those orange push-up things on a stick?  The excitement of the purchase takes over.  It doesn’t matter that it is not the best ice cream.  What matters is that it is the best way to buy it.  This past Saturday I resisted the urge, but next time, I’m running to the curb.

Sometimes my heart overrules my head.   Sometimes it matters.  Sometimes it doesn’t.



  4 Responses to “The Ice Cream Man”

  1. I heard the icecream man last weekend! I didn’t run to the curb, I actually thought maybe I imagined it. But you’re right, The icecream man IS the very best way to buy icecream. Because you get to buy your “bomb pop” or Fred Flinstone orange push up from an actual person and not a u-scan. You get to stand out on the curb with all your neighbors eating as fast as you can before you lose your ever melting dripping treat to the scorching asphalt beneath your flip-flops. AND because the icecream man is always a surprise. You never know when he’s gonna come. You thought it was just another insanely hot hard day working in the yard, or just another humid summer Saturday evening riding your bike around in the same old circles… but you were wrong. The cheesy music changes everything.

    I rarely let my heart overrule my head. But I’m starting to wonder… maybe when it “doesn’t matter” actually matters just as much. When the only consequence is some extra sugar and a few mouthfuls of mediocre icecream you didn’t really want anyway, or a late night because you stole some fun when you should have been working, or a full tank of gas and a cold rainy do nothing camping trip because you missed your family… maybe that’s when it’s absolutely IMPERATIVE that you run after your heart and chase the icecream man.

  2. Oh, Lord don’t ever let the little boy in us die. dad

  3. Thanks for recalling my sweetest of memories… and we have a ice cream “man” in our neighborhood throughout the summer months, too.

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