Ice (Cream) Man Cometh
August 15, 2003
Anyone born and raised in America in the past 50 years who lived anywhere near the proximity of a street has gone through the penultimate experience of summer: a visit from the ice cream man. Summer is not complete until the man in the white suit and white truck comes strolling down your street at 2 miles per hour, "Turkey in the Straw" or some other children's standard playing over the loudspeaker. Some things have changed (the ice cream man is usually a 20 year old in jeans now), but the concept is the same: a slow roving truck filled with cold treats on a hot day will lure kids onto the streets faster than a PlayStation 2 giveaway.
This summer, our small town just outside of Chicago was lucky enough to have the ice cream man as a frequent visitor. With 2 small children in the house and many others just down the street, the many cravings for a Spongebob Squarepants or a Choco Taco have been fed thanks to the ice cream man's early evening visits. Children are happy, adults relive their youth, and all is right with the world. Or so I thought.
One evening last week while purchasing a Bubble Play (cherry ice shaped like a baseball glove with a gumball in the middle - pure genius) for my daughter, a police officer pulled up behind the ice cream truck and approached with a disappointed look on his face. The adults looked around surreally at the situation. The kids? Busy eating ice cream, of course. Surely the ice cream man couldn't be getting a ticket for speeding - it's an ice cream truck! Unless he was an axe murderer, which I assume would be disclosed in the in-depth application for "ice cream man", there must be some logical explanation.
The explanation soon followed, straight out of the officer's mouth, but logical it was not. Some anonymous person in our lazy suburb, we'll call the person Satan since his or her name wasn't revealed, filed a NOISE COMPLAINT against the ice cream man! Apparently Satan has a problem with children's songs. Why is the explanation so illogical? Any house in our town is likely to hear a train every time it passes over the tracks in the middle of our main street. Worse yet, we are just west of several O'Hare Airport runways, so the town is constantly littered with the noise from landing planes all day long. Somehow, in the 10 seconds of quiet between the planes and the trains, Satan heard the sweet sound of ice cream being legally peddled to willing children and adults nearby and had decided that enough was enough.
Using his common sense, the police officer simply gave the ice cream man a warning. As you can assume, an ice cream man's margins are most likely slimmer than the early 90's version of Sammy Sosa, so even the threat of a silly noise ordinance ticket, regardless how small, is enough to scare away the white truck and force him to sell his Screwballs elsewhere. Children everywhere are standing at the curbs waiting, so the ice cream man can alter his route and avoid a ridiculous ticket. Who pays the price then? Thanks to Satan, our children pay the price, staring out the window with dreams of Bomb Pops and tears in their eyes, licking a boring, store bought, grape Popsicle.
Needless to say, the ice cream man hasn't brought his Drumsticks around since the incident. Satan has won the battle, but when the neighborhood kids start up a garage band (with my urging and full financial support of course), we will have won the war. Happy summer, jerk, wherever you are.