I don’t know how many times I heard that jangling, out-of-tune music box music emanating from the truck driving down the next street over. Living in multiple neighborhoods, with only a few years in each, didn’t help learn the ice-cream truck’s route. Plus with memories of the bad man in Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, I was always rather leery of trucks that carried things to sell to children. Can’t say I ever really believed that any of the ice-cream truck drivers were out to kidnap me, but with my vivid imagination . . . , and most of the ice cream trucks I saw, growing up, did little to dispel my worries. Besides all of which, I rarely had the nerve to ask either of my parents for money to buy something like that, anyway, and my older brother, who may have been bolder in the attempt and have had better success than I, wasn’t interested.
There did come a day, though, when I was outside with my dad when the jangling happened to come down our street. Something got into me, that day, and I asked Dad if we could get something. Something must have gotten into him, too, because he said we could. When the truck got close enough, Dad flagged down the driver, who opened the side hatch and lifted the rolling side to display his wares, lure us in, and drive off with our money (okay, with Dad’s money). It must have been a hot day because everything looked good in the pictures on the posters he had plastered all over the inside of the truck, the outside of the truck, both sides of every door, and both sides of the hatch, as well as all the glass on the freezers. Dad didn’t want anything, but I finally decided on one of those pre-assembled sugar cones with something that vaguely resembled an ice cream sundae. After swallowing hard, Dad handed over about the same amount of cash as he would have paid, at the grocery store, for a half gallon of ice cream (or two).
All I can figure is that Dad must have seen this as a teaching opportunity. Whether it was intended to be so or not, it worked–I’ve never even been interested in buying from an ice cream truck since then. The sugar cone was soggy, kinda chewy, and if ice cream can taste stale, this did. As much as it cost, I ate the whole thing . . . definitely wasn’t because it was especially appetizing! Strangely enough, that lesson stuck with me, and I never asked either of my parents for an ice-cream truck treat again.
Perhaps, in the long run, Dad saved money by letting me get one outrageously-priced thing, that one day. Okay, maybe he didn’t save money, but he sure did avoid having to deal with a lot of annoying begging . . . until we moved into a neighborhood with a 7-Eleven right around the corner, and my brother and I discovered “Sluuuuuurpeeeeees.”