I'm Onto You, Ice Cream ManJane Roper
Oh, sure. I know your game. You come rolling around the neighborhood right around five-thirty, six-o’clock every night, your speakers blaring a treacly, synthesized version of “Turkey in the Straw,” your cheery “Caution, Children” stop sign painted on the back of the truck and your jaunty jumble of colorful ice cream novelty labels plastered around your serving window. Acting soooo wholesome and old-timey and innocent. “Look, everybody! It’s the friendly, neighborhood ice cream truck! Just like the one in your cherished childhood memories!”
Like you don’t know that it’s right before dinnertime and every kid in America is starving and cranky and every parent at their most exhausted and vulnerable. Like you don’t know that no child can resist your siren song, or the allure of your licensed-character-shaped ice creams—the Dora, the Spongebob, the Spider-Man–disgusting gumball eyes and wildly inflated prices notwithstanding.
Maybe last year and the year before we were able to steer our girls away from your seduction by calling you “the music truck,” which, in their innoncence, they believed. But now they’re four and you know you’ve got them–and therefore, by extension, me–in the palm of your sticky sweet hand.
Or do you? Ha! You only think you do.
Remember that time I let my girls buy ice cream from you, (rather, I agreed to buy it for them) — right at six o’clock, no less, as dinner was cooking — on the condition that they had to put it in the freezer until after dinner? Sure, you remember. Don’t try to tell me you don’t. Because I hear the evidence nightly, in the form of your sad little music horn: Turkey in the straw! you toot. Turkey in the hay! you bleat. Roll ’em up an’ twist ’em up a high tuc-ka-haw! you plead with mounting desperation as you roll right past my daughters on the front steps, hoping against hope — and it is against hope! — that once again I will emerge from the house and buy them something from your truck of greed and gluttony.
But what you don’t know, is that night, way back in June, the other condition of my purchase—besides saving their treats until after dinner–was that they MUST NEVER ASK ME TO GET SOMETHING FROM THE ICE CREAM TRUCK AGAIN BECAUSE I WOULD NOT SAY YES. This was a one-time treat. Once a year. Got it?
Bwah ha ha ha!!
And let me assure you, Mr. Ice Cream Man that my daughters (about half the time) heed my words. And even when they do still forget and ask for ice cream, what do I say? (To the tune of “Bohemian Rhapsody” if you please), No, No, No, No, No, NO, NO! (Mama mia! Mama mia!)
Mama Mia, let me go watch the ice cream truck go by! To which I say: Absolutely! In fact, I insist. Whenever my girls hear you coming, I urge them to go and sit on the front steps and watch for you. Not just because it keeps them occupied for a full five to ten minutes. But because I love (in the same, sadistic way I enjoy killing flies with rolled up magazines) watching the hope kindle anew in your eyes as you drive past, hoping that you will get lucky again, and then die – DIE!! — once again as you realize that, no, there will be no ice cream purchased at this house tonight.
But you’ll be back tomorrow night. Of course you will. You can’t help your poor, depraved, desperate self. And I’ll send the children out front. And I’ll watch. I’ll watch and I’ll laugh. Like this: Ha! Ha ha ha!! HA!! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!
And then I’ll realize that the water for the rice has boiling for the past five minutes and run back into the kitchen. But I’ll still be laughing inwardly. Oh yes. I will.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER FOR THE HUMOR-IMPAIRED (AND THE GOOD HUMOR MEN): I don’t actually have anything against ice cream truck drivers/workers. I realize that they are only trying to make a living and, moreover, I admire their entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, a good friend of mine drove an ice cream truck over the summers when we were in high school. Made a killing. He’s a rabbi now. Great guy. In any case, the above is not meant as a personal attack on any individual ice cream man, ice cream distributor and/or affiliated entity. But, come on, you have to admit that coming around right before and during dinnertime every freakin’ day is seriously not cool. Also: if anyone from Good Humor is reading this, why don’t you guys still make Toasted Almond bars? Or, if you do, why aren’t they in broader distribution? I love those things. Please send coupons for free ice cream.
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