The Emperor Of Ice Cream.

Spring is officially here. Summer may even be officially here, a lot earlier than usual, and I’m not just saying that because it’s been warm enough that I can go out in my bare feet. What really sealed the season for me was the first appearance of the ice cream truck in my neighborhood which I normally associate with summer but, hey, if the ice cream truck is going to come around this early then maybe it’s a spring thing too, and maybe that’s better because I’m always willing to spring for some ice cream. Yes I can go to the store and buy ice cream anytime, but there’s something special about getting it from the ice cream truck. I distinctly remember the first time I got ice cream from an ice cream truck, although technically it wasn’t ice cream. The truck came up our street, which was a cul-de-sac that had kids in more than half the houses, which so we were the proverbial fish in a barrel. In fact we were better than the proverbial fish in a barrel because the fish will keep swimming around whereas we were hooked as soon as the truck blaring “Do Your Ears Hang Low” or maybe something by Edvard Grieg came rolling up to us and we ran out into the street and didn’t care that we had bare feet because we all went barefoot so much we had feet like Hobbits, but that’s another story. I was still too young to read and my mother came out with me because I was also too young to have money, and I looked carefully at all the options, and when it was my turn I pointed to a picture of a big-nosed red and blue troll wearing a crown, because if there’s one thing kids love it’s the Troll King from Peer Gynt, and I said, “I want that kind please.” And an older kid sighed and said, “Duh, that’s a snow cone,” because older kids are jerks. So I didn’t actually get ice cream, I got a snow cone, which was the most disappointing experience of my life up to that point. Admittedly I was four so I hadn’t had a lot of disappointments, but if you’ve ever had a snow cone from an ice cream truck you know it’s basically just ice chips and colored water, although it did come in a neat little paper cone that had a picture of the Troll King on it that I enjoyed looking at until it dissolved and I was left with a runny mess of slightly sticky red and blue water.

And then I got older and could go to the ice cream truck by myself and use my own money, which was cool because I’m pretty sure that was the first time I could buy something by myself without my parents standing over me, and I’d always get a strawberry ice cream bar that I’m pretty sure had a picture of Solveig on its wrapper. It was also really interesting to me because I heard that in exotic places like New York you could call and order exotic foods like pizza and somebody would deliver it right to your home. We couldn’t get that, or maybe we just didn’t, but the ice cream truck was the next best thing. In fact it was even better because it was ice cream and you didn’t have to call anyone.

One day when a younger cousin from another state was staying with us the ice cream truck rolled up to the cul-de-sac and we went out to get ice cream. And my cousin said, “This is the same ice cream truck that comes to our house. He drives all around the world every day.”

I sighed and said, “No he doesn’t. There are different ice cream trucks in different places and no one can drive all around the world.” And then I told him there was no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny and that if his baby teeth didn’t fall out fast enough the Tooth Fairy would come into his room in the middle of the night with a pair of rusty pliers because, duh, older kids are jerks.

I feel really bad about that now and I feel like I’ve gotten some karmic comeuppance because when I heard the ice cream truck a few days ago I went springing after it but could only make it so far because I was in my bare feet and my feet, like the rest of me, have really gone soft. And there are no kids that I know on the street so the ice cream truck doesn’t stick around. So what I’m saying is, can I borrow anyone’s kids? I promise not to destroy their childish innocence even if they believe the same ice cream truck travels the world, but I will tell them the bitter truth if they ask for a snow cone.

 

14 Comments

  1. Arionis

    OK, I new about Santa Claus but no Easter Bunny??? Who is leaving those baskets for me even though I am 49 years old? Guess I’ll have to set up a Nanny (Bunny?) cam this weekend to catch the culprit.

    When I first started patronizing the Ice Cream Truck when I was a little kid, my parents were always with me. I would run up and pick what I wanted and soon as it was in my hand I would skedaddle to consume my coveted treat. I never realized that my parents would actually pay for it after I had booked it. So the first time I encountered the truck when I was outside by myself I confidently approached and ordered my item. This particular truck actually had boxes of treats if you wanted them, so I figured why not go big? I asked the guy for a box of fudgesicles. He handed them over and I promptly turned around and ran inside the house where I grabbed one out of the pack and put the others in the freezer. Somewhere in the distance I heard a doorbell ring and some type of heated conversation going on, but I was too absorbed in my fudgey bliss to pay attention. That is, until my Dad clamped down on my shoulder and rather forcibly shattered my allusion of the magical ice cream truck that gave out free treats. I was allowed to finish that one fudgesicle but had to watch as my parents and my sister finished off the box over the next few days.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s hilarious and also must have been a good lesson for you about the value of things. I don’t remember ever seeing an ice cream truck that would give out boxes of treats, but that sounds like a pretty good thing. I can imagine my friends and I pooling our money together but then not being able to agree on what to get a box of.

      Reply
  2. Allison

    Ice cream sandwich. Always and forever. My nephew likes the weirdly colored pops that are meant to look like Spongebob or Spiderman and are typically studded with rock-solid bubblegum eyes or some such thing.

    These days, I’m a Las Paletas girl. And I stick with their fruit pops rather than the ice cream pops. Marvelous. Maybe I’ll do that this weekend?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Ah, Las Paletas–did you know they beat Bobby Flay? And even if they hadn’t I wouldn’t be able to resist getting one every time I go to Blue Coast Burrito.

      Reply
  3. Ann Koplow

    I also grew up on a cul-de-sac, which sounds better than “dead end.” No ice cream trucks came down our street. We would walk to the beach in the summer and then to a nearby ice cream place named “Doane’s” where I would always get a black raspberry cone, which strikes me odd, because I’ve always loved chocolate. I think the last time I ordered something from an ice cream truck it was an ice cream taco, which strikes me as odd.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The ice cream taco is odd, and what’s odder still is that taco trucks now seem to be more common than ice cream trucks. Or perhaps that’s not odd. Some people I know don’t eat ice cream in the winter, but tacos are a year-round food.

      Reply
  4. mydangblog

    Sometimes I think you’re my secret twin, except for me it was Peer Gynt and Orange Creamsicles. The worst was when the knife-sharpening truck would roll through with the same bell dinging, and we would all come streaming out then be extremely disappointed. I mean, who the hell lets some random guy on a bicycle sharpen their knives? Now, of course, I imagine that the knife guy suffered from terribly low self-esteem–imagine seeing all those kids come rushing out, then give you the evil eye?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I seriously envy you having a neighborhood tinker who came through and sharpened knives. He probably had plenty of experience with kids giving him the evil eye though. In fact I’m surprised he didn’t give kids the evil eye right back.
      Also I love orange creamsicles. A few years ago someone brought an orange creamsicle cake to work. It was good but not as good as the real thing.

      Reply
  5. Gilly

    So in the US, your ice cream trucks play music when they HAVE ice cream? In the U.K., they only play music when they have sold out of ice cream (well that’s what my parents told me when I was 6).

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yes, in the U.K. ice cream trucks deliberately taunt children by only playing music when they’re out of ice cream because they’re driven by cruel old men who run over Willy Weasel and his friends. And when you want to go to the ice cream van always take mummy with you.

      Reply
  6. Kat

    I grew up out in the country, no ice cream trucks. But visiting Grandma in town during the summer? Oh, man. We’d hear that bell and be like, “GRANDMA!!!!!!!!!!! WE NEED MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I’d usually get some kind of sherbet treat, orange or lime. Now I’m like, what were you thinking?? That would be the last thing I’d pick.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s funny–when I was a kid and we’d go to Baskin Robbins I’d always pick a sherbet treat of some kind, or two–I remember getting orange and grape, two great tastes that don’t go particularly well together. Now I’ll go for something chocolate every time.

      Reply
  7. halfa1000miles

    OMG. Yes. It IS “do your ears hang low”. I can never figure out that song!! It is the ringtone on my phone for people in my neighborhood, cause it’s all I could think of besides Mr. Rogers’ “I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you” (which I did have for a while, ain’t gonna lie). Telling those kids about the ice cream truck(s) reminds me of when someone broke it to me that when I heard a song on the radio, the band was not actually there performing. That was a huge letdown for some reason.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Actually “Do Your Ears Hang Low” is the polite version of the song. There’s a slightly ruder version, but since ice cream trucks are for kids let’s assume it’s just ears.
      And welcome back!

      Reply

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