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.