Monday, June 29, 2009

The Ice-Cream Man Cometh (Summer Rerun!)

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. wow, this is a very frightening, but yet eye opening, post! wow! :o

  2. Robynn,
    You are a hoot!! First let me say I feel your pain about the heat. We had 98 degree weather last week with record breaking humidity. It was aweful! Now, about the ice-cream truck, love the photos! the first photo is my fav and brings back wonderful memories. I miss the sound of the bell ringing. I am glad I have not seen King's truck anywhere in our neighborhood. Hope you are feeling well. Keep writing girl!!!

  3. Haven't had the truck come yet, but be sure I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for the driver :) There are two trucks in our area and both are family run with moms and dads and brothers and sisters all helping out, but you can never be sure now can you?

    Robynn, I'v got an award waiting for you back at my blog! Hope you are well, miss seeing you about but take all the time you need!

  4. It's a real shame that kids nowdays won't have the experiences we enjoyed 'back in the day'. One of my best memories of going and staying with my big sister before she died was going out with my little nephews and niece to get Popsicles from the ice cream man. I just don't get the world or some of the people in it now.


  5. One of your best... hope you're going to come back soon with new stuff. :-) XO

  6. I think I missed this the first time around. Scary!

    S'funny, but we haven't had an ice cream truck in our neighborhood for a couple of years. Have no idea why or what happened!

  7. Yeh, and his cousins, Shifty and Slimy, drive through my neighborhood. *shiver*!

    I loved this post when I first read it, and it's a hoot to read again! :-)

  8. I see the word hoot used twice. I'm gonna need for you all to step into the 2000's.