Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Ice Cream Man Cometh (Insert Jaws Music)

It will be 98 degrees in Fresno by Monday. Two days ago it was 68. Welcome to much of California.

The beach areas and some far northern locations are usually spared. The rest of us just pray for death. Summer tends to come unexpectedly and with a vengeance. I don't know WHY we don't expect it. It happens every year. But each season we optimistically anticipate mild temperatures while failing to remember this pertinent fact: volcanoes will not erupt in our vicinity because they can't take the heat. Occasionally some outsider will make the comment that at least it's a "dry heat." Yeah, well, so is a blow torch but I'm not volunteering to stand in front of one.

And with the searing weather will come the ice cream man. This will not be the ice cream man of my youth. Gone is the fellow with the friendly, toothy smile and white Garrison cap perched at a jaunty angle on his head. Gone is the alluring truck with lovely decals advertising enticing frozen concoctions. Gone is the perfect ice cream treat that when unwrapped, looked exactly like the picture promised it would.

I think Stephen King designed the ice cream truck and driver that now prowls the city streets of California.

It would seem apparent the legislature passed a bill requiring all said trucks to be in a demolition derby before hitting the road. This should be followed by a "Thelma and Louise" style vault over and into a canyon.

When the truck body is appropriately mangled, it must be abandoned, in the rain, for at least a year. This will create the rust and dirt needed to create the "war-zone chic" effect. The decals will have been applied on the assembly line so they are now barely visible and scuffed beyond recognition.

The music blasted from the truck as it travels through your neighborhood will be as damaging to your nerves as electrocution, but far slower. It will warble and dip so as to never hit its proper pitch, even by accident, and won't pause even when parked. And the truck will not visit your area once a day but will be on a continuous merry-go-round loop passing by at least 400 times.

Should you be a thrill seeker and, horror-of-horrors, let your kids approach and buy something, you will be most fortunate indeed if your ice-cream has retained its original shape and/or coatings. More likely it will look like a science project comparing the ice-age effects against global warming; continuous freeze vs. melt and thaw.

You will also discover the ice-cream man comes in, primarily, two frightening flavors.

The first will be an ex New York City cab driver. He will hate you for trying to do business with him but you will only know this by his contorted angry countenance and volume of voice. You will never understand a word he says and when you order a Missle Pop you will receive a Drumstick. You are not allowed to protest or he will run over you. Sometimes he will have a wife sitting in the back of the truck to retrieve the items he barks out. Hopefully, she will be unchained.

The second flavor will be the reason my children will require future therapy for trauma and are never allowed to make purchases from the rolling danger wagon. They were taught when they were little to run back inside if they heard the music because I didn't even want the driver to know children lived here.

It was a friend who informed me about this type years ago. Her brother was released from prison and got a job driving an ice-cream truck. He said lots of ex-felons did this. And many of them were sex-offenders. Her brother had done time for drug charges. That was concerning to me considering he hadn't overcome his problem. But sex-offenders, including rapists and child-molesters, are allowed to drive ice-cream trucks where would-be victims come running to them. If you find this hard to believe go here. The A.C.L.U. is all for it. Apparently, they don't have children. Or brains. For a complete list of things to be terrified of with your local ice cream driver, go to "Do You Really Know Your Ice Cream Truck Man?"

Why can't we get this guy?

Or this truck?

Or this one run by a whole family, even their children, in Grand Forks, North Dakota?

Not on my street, I can tell you. I want little children hanging out of windowed ice cream trucks happily advising would-be customers. I want to believe in happiness and families working together for the common good. Maybe they even homeschool and have little desks set up in there. Can't I believe that if I want to? Can't they come to my neighborhood?

All of this occurred to me as I dropped into my friend's blog this morning. She takes interesting shots of life around New York City and you can see my inspiration here at her blog called "On The m104." She took a picture of an oncoming ice cream truck. I knew by the shiny chrome grill on the front and sheer gleaming cleanliness it exuded, our worlds had nothing in common.

So bring on the heat California. You're going to anyway. And when the urge to soothe my fevered brow seems to be provided by the creamy goodness of icy decadence, you will find me roaming the aisles of the frozen food section at Whole Foods looking for my fix. If the ice cream man comes prowling into the neighborhood, we'll be locked in the house, thank you very much.

Disclaimer: My sincere apologies to any ice cream truck driver reading this who drives in California and whose person and truck do not fit this description. You have my utmost appreciation and gratitude. Please come to Fresno. We might erect a statue in your honor.

(I have a long history with ice cream issues. If you'd like to read about about my childhood waywardness, you can go here.)

Copyright 2009


  1. Well I now have another reason to be thankful I live in Neenah, Wis.

  2. I have the best memories of the icecream truck when I was little. We have the little Mexican men walking around pushing their helado for us to buy. Thankfully, we moved out of town so the daily hassle has gone away!!!

  3. Funny...yet, horrible...I'm a bit torn on this post...don't know whether to laugh or cry...Whole Foods, though, that I can raise a spoon for!!!! Sorry about the heat...I remember when my family moved from the Bay Area to North County San Diego (Inland as well) was August and 101 degrees...I thought I'd died and gone to ...well, you get the idea...but you've made a very funny few paragraphs out of it...then, you get me with the horror...ah, your versatility, my friend! May I suggest a fancy ice-cream machine? That might give a little old-fashioned feel to your decadence, and compensate somewhat for the scarcity of innocent fun available in the Golden State :-) Blessings to you! Janine XO

  4. I am so glad my kids do not like ice cream. We have those scary trucks.

    I SO miss my Good Humor trucks. Sure you can buy the treats in the stores. Except NO ONE in Florida carries my favorite, Toasted Almond Crunch.

  5. Yikes!


    *shudder* yikes

  6. The only thing worse would be to see the drive dressed in a clown suit, and the music blaring was Michael Jackson's greatest hits... now that would send me runnin'!!! (and I'm fat!)

  7. Oh my - this was hilarious and frightening beyond reason!

    I'm seriously thankful that our little ice cream van comes only once every two weeks and is driven by a sweet girl in her twenties.

  8. Great Read! Hysterical, yet frightening to think what goes on and often we are clueless. Since we live in the country we don't have to face the ding ding ding ding ding of the Ice Cream man...but let me tell you the ones we have here in the local towns....the drivers fit your description to a TEE! Thanks!

  9. When I was a kid there was an ice cream on a stick that looked like a clown the nose was a bubble gum ball yum!!! Hugs Darcy

  10. Dr. John: You LUCKY man!

    Joy: Me too! Ours were great. Lucky girl to not have to hide. :)

    Sniffles & Smiles: I'm afraid I mix metaphors and happy/horror stories. It's my state of mind. Questionable.....! And I don't dare have an ice cream machine lest I become unable to lift myself out of the chair. (I'm already using a forklift assist. And that back-up beeping noise drives me batty.)

    Sharon: So sorry you can't get your favorite. :(

    Kaylee Bean: I know where YOU live! LOCK THE DOOR!

    Frank Castle: This fat girl would be runnin' right beside you!

    Lady Fi: Thank you and I'm envious. It's my nature you know.

    Pamela: Thanks so much and I'm sorry you know what I mean! lol

    Darcy: I know the ice cream you mean! Just read about it while doing my research for the article. Glad for your happy memory. :)

  11. An ice cream truck couldn't even FIND my house and I guess i'm glad. I'll see you at the grocery store in the ice cream aisle!

  12. We live in the country with homes built up around us now. The ice cream truck found us, but I have to say, the truck is adorable with lots of inticing pics on the dside and really a nice man in side.

  13. I remember Bungalow Bar as well as Good Humor in the Bronx when I was growing up .. Mistee Softee was the big draw ..

    Recently in NYC specialty items like Belgium waffles and all sorts of amazing desserts and finger foods are being sold from those trucks which dont drive 'round the neighborhood but park on as busy street .. usually on 75-76 St in front of a big market called Fairway ... I personally have had the waffles and dim sum but I took the photo of the ice cream truck and kept walking .... I am trying to be good ..

    I loved this post!

  14. Most enlightening, Robynn!
    There are three things I do not understand in this life! The first I shall not deal with since it is now Politically Correct. The second is child molesters - why? why? why? I ask myself! The third is absolute idiots who condone it. My stance is 'zero tolerance' on this issue! In fact I feel so strongly they should be removed from society!
    Other than that - I enjoy an ice cream and in England I am pleased to say we do not have yhis problem! Pop round - there is absolute chaos here! Your Brit pal, Eddie x

  15. How terrifying! So glad I live in the country where it is safe.

  16. Robynn,

    The next time you're in the Santa Cruz area, please give Aunt LaLi's Ice Cream Truck a call so we can present you with new images to hopefully replace the old! Along with, of course, some delicious ice cream!

  17. Okay... I read the whole post. Twice. And I laughed and shuddered.
    But I STILL want a Missile and a Drum Stick! That tells ya where my head is at, doesn't it?

    Oh, and maybe some chips.
    Or how come we can't ever have just like a salad?

  18. Sadly, I am salivating for the goods as well! But count me in as one of the lucky ones only living 1 and 1/2 hours from Grand Forks! Our ice cream truck is run by a family with young kids too and it never occurred to me that something sinister could lurk in the shadows... shudder, *gasp*...

    Robynn, clearly, you know what the answer is, dontcha? Clearly, you should move to North Dakota and become my neighbor :) You don't mind snow do ya?

  19. This is hilarious and scary all at the same time!! I will be taking notice of who our ice cream man is this summer!!

  20. Thanks for the congrats, Robynn. :) I'm so excited!!!!!

  21. Cedar: I'm envious of where you live and your beautiful view! But you already know that. ;P

    Karen: So glad there are wonderful, normal ones out there.

    Daryl: Good for you for not stopping but if I ever get there - you and I ARE stopping! lol

    Eddie: Would come to Britain in a heartbeat even if it didn't include ice cream. Unfortunately, I've heard it must include cash. THAT's what I'm fresh out of right now. :)

    Lisa: I don't think it's this bad everywhere. Some of our friends here have wonderful experiences!

    Aunt Lali: YAY!!!! Sent you a private email and I can't thank you ENOUGH for stopping by to give me hope. I hope you are wildly successful so you can branch out to Fresno! Check out her DARLING ice cream trucks everyone!

    Tatersmama: I'm so hungry right now even those beans sound good! OR maybe a salad or something. Whatever. (For those of you wondering, TM and I always throw movie lines back and forth from "Nacho Libre!"

    Vicky: That's sounding better and better all the time. Minus the flooding, though!

    Andrea: Thank you and heads up!

    Courtney: You are welcome and thanks for stopping by! (This lucky stiff just won a Flip Video camera. All because she's clever and talented and named a REALLY cute dog!)

  22. This is too funny, and so true. My kids as of yet, are completely freaked out by the ice cream man cuz I yell for them to come inside or stand by me outside while he goes by, as if he were a fire breathing dragon. They totally have read my angst without me meaning to give it to them, and are completely freaked out by the ice cream truck. The child predator thing totally freaks me out, and is the main reason for my panic, but what also will send me over the edge is the exhorbitant prices they charge. I will NEVER frequent an ice cream truck for that very reason.

  23. Hehehe... I have never laughed so hard in such a long long time and believe me, I so needed it!

    We just don't have any ice cream trucks around here and we are lucky to purchase ice cream at all during the hot months or shall I say Hot Week here in the Rockies... LOL.


  24. There are bonuses to living in a gated community... ;O)

  25. The week before Easter we were visiting my sister in Kentucky. Sittig on the front porch, we could hear the music for MILES. Fortunately, the couple that runs this is a very nice couple and are very careful but every year, my sister goes and tells them to tune it down. It usually doesn't work until the Deputy Sheriff that lives across the street from her, shleps out in his uniform before going to work the night shift and informs them that he will ticket them every day if they don't cut the noise level down to tolerable levels. She said it is a regular rite of passage in the Spring. She also works nights as nurse, as does four other people on their street. It is a regular club!

  26. You have made me crave ice cream now!!

  27. NO kidding on the ice cream guys AND music. Before we moved to the country and we were in a rent house... geeees THAT "music" would play in my head. This was in B.C. times too (before children) and "I" didn't want to go by myself, much less any kids I could imagine.
    p.s. very neat ice cream truck pics form the past!

  28. I both laughed and shuddered at your post. Ah, your ice cream man's brother must have set up shop in my neck of the woods. I cringe whenever I hear the blast-o-music heralding their approach. It drives me nuts that these guys prowl the neighborhoods. For now, I'll have to substitute as the ice cream man keeping a stock of frozen treats in my freezer to combat the creepies.

  29. The guys I've seen in the past years are creepy. Makes me wonder about the ice cream in their trucks. I would never buy that stuff!!

  30. First of all, the heat. Oh my goodness. I knew it was coming, but I was too busy flirting with 65 and overcast to look at the 95 with blazing sun headed my way.

    Second: Where did my ice cream man go? When we bought our house, he faithfully drove by every summer day. Now that I have a child and an excuse to chase him down the street? Nowhere to be seen. Maybe that's a good thing?

  31. I didn't think the St. Petersburg ice cream truck could make it all the way to Fresno.

  32. I have a client who grew up in Brooklyn and I'm helping him create a retrospective piece of his life there, and he's interested in a photo of a Bungalow Bar Ice Cream Truck. Can I have permission to use your blog's photo, assuming you are the copyright holder?