Mr. Ice Cream Truck

Connotation Press 2014

The ice cream truck is almost here. I can hear bells followed by the “Charge!” yell coming through the loudspeakers. The kids in the neighborhood stand on their lawns but if this suburban town had sidewalks they’d most likely wait on the sidewalks.

I see him stop just after the corner and immediately the kids form a neat line. No neat line—no service is what Mr. Ice Cream Truck has written on the side. Also written on the side is the menu for the day and sometimes items upcoming.

Most parents are not pleased with Mr. Ice Cream and reluctantly give their children money or allow them to use their own to get in line for a purchase. If Mr. Ice Cream sold ice cream it would be one thing but he doesn’t because the freezers in his truck don’t work and he has no intention of fixing them, so today’s menu consists of sparklers, Twinkies, pink chewing gum cigars, poppers and gummy spiders.

Last year the neighborhood watch contacted a real ice cream truck to come at the same time and promised good business but the kids wanted no part of soft ice cream dipped in chocolate or covered in sprinkles or Good Humor ice cream sandwiches. They would rather go without than not be allowed to buy from Mr. Ice Cream Truck.

Mr. Ice Cream Truck is a great merchandiser. First of all he knows what the kids will spend money on and next and probably his best deal is the “bell rope” which hangs vertically next to the large “Purchase Here” window. Every time someone makes a purchase they can yank the bell rope. There are ways to make the bells sound different by how the rope is pulled and since every one only gets one pull no matter how much they spend the rope pull method can decide a pecking order from visit to visit.

The “Coming Soon” sign is causing a stir. The kids are excited and the parents are unhappy and have contacted the town officials only to find out that Mr. Ice Cream Truck is all licensed up to sell what he has “Coming Soon”.

When the kids ask Mr. Ice Cream Truck, “when”, he tells them “coming soon” and he pulls the bell rope.

Yesterday the “Coming Soon” sign says “Tomorrow!!” so the excitement for the kids is beyond normal and the family arguments along the route are heard from house to house.

We can hear the “Charge!” yell and we stand on our lawns in our regular spots shaking with anticipation and finally Mr. Ice Cream Truck pulls to a stop and the kids line up and the parents, more than usual—much more, stand talking on their precious lawns.

Today Mr. Ice Cream Truck’s menu reads; gerbils, baby snakes and kittens!

The big seller for the boys are the baby snakes and a few gerbils. The girls are buying kittens. The parents are now passing around flasks and glowering at Mr. Ice Cream Truck. Business is good, so today Mr. Ice Cream Truck has a helper and she pushes the kids faster in making their selections and then passes out pamphlets to the parents.

“Coming Soon!” the pamphlets say are larger snakes, pit bull puppies, large live icky spiders, pet rats and mice. The other side of the pamphlet says that Mr. Ice Cream Truck has an offer to go to another neighborhood and is considering it but it won’t pay quite as well at first but the kids there are more plentiful and very anxious. “Feel free to call with your opinion,” it says under a phone number.

The parents know what this means and the leader of the neighborhood watch calls the listed number and then calls a meeting. Grumbling a lot, the neighborhood watch group members all pull out stacks of tens and twenties and one by one hand them to their leader who quiets everyone down and calls the phone number again and tells the total collected.

He drives off with the cash to a meeting spot with Mr. Ice Cream Truck and stands by the “Purchase Here” window while Mr. Ice Cream Truck counts out the money. He then points to the bell rope and the neighborhood watch leader reluctantly yanks on the rope. Mr. Ice Cream Truck closes the window and drives off never to be seen on his old route again. The following week a real ice cream truck begins to appear daily and little by little the kids begin to trickle out and buy ice cream after dinner.

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