One of my fondest memories of summer is the ice-cream man. He would come round with his blue and white truck plastered with the name “Home Ice-Cream”. If you ran along behind the truck, there were mouth watering pictures of all the different ice-blocks he had for sale.
It began with the faint ringing of a bell that could be heard from streets away, but I wouldn’t drop what I was doing quite yet–there was still time before his truck would reach our street. There would be a few minutes of silence as the truck stopped on other streets to deliver its boxes of happiness to other eagerly awaiting children. Then it would start up again, closer this time. That was when I’d rush to my parents and beg them for money. I’d wait impatiently, hopping from foot to foot as they ambled leisurely into their bedroom at the other end of the house to get their wallets. Meanwhile, the bell would increase in volume as the truck got ever closer to our little cul-de-sac.
After what seemed like an eternity, my mum or my dad would finally emerge, money in hand. I never hung around long enough to say thank you, simply grabbing it and making a headlong dash for the door. Our front gate would invariably be locked, and I’d have to race back to the kitchen for the key. At this point, the truck would be making its way down our street. I’d fumble with the keys, desperately trying to locate the one for the front door–which, of course, looked the same as all the other keys. It certainly didn’t help that I was panicking that the truck would drive off without me. Heaven forbid I go two weeks without ice-cream!
To my relief there would normally be another, better prepared neighbor who would stop the truck to buy their own box of happiness. This would give me just enough time to race down the driveway and along the road, waving wildly to catch the attention of the ice-cream man. I doubt I needed to do that–the sight of a tubby little kid running at you full-speed would be enough to stop most people in their tracks!
Then there was the dilemma of which of the ice-blocks to get. Most of my family loved the mango creams. My personal preference, however, were the chocolate milk ice-blocks. I was only allowed to buy one or the other, as they were sold in boxes of twenty. More often than not I’d end up buying the mango creams–if everyone was eating them, we’d be ready for a new box in two weeks’ time.
I’d return home proudly clutching my treasure. During the walk between the truck and our front door the box was sure to be opened, and its contents raided. What can I say? The ice-blocks were delicious.
I got to re-live this part of my childhood last Saturday. It was one of the rare Saturdays when I was home in the late afternoon. The familiar bell echoed down our street, and like one of Pavlov’s dogs, I started drooling. This time, I ran for my own wallet and my own set of keys. I’ll admit the sense of panic hadn’t dulled with the passing of years. There was the same fumble to get the correct key and unlock the front gate. Getting outside was harder, thanks to our escape artist of a cat.
Luckily, the truck was stopped at the end of the road. As I walked toward it, there were no sounds of doors opening, nor any excited children waiting in line. It was simply the ice-cream man and his truck. Maybe it’s a symptom of this microwave generation. Why wait for this ice-cream man to come every two weeks when you can pick up a tub of ice-cream from the supermarket as soon as you have the craving? You lose the thrill of the chase, the satisfaction of coming away after a hard-fought battle with that box of happiness.
The ice-cream is that much sweeter for it.
Leanne Yong is an aspiring Aussie author who is working on her second young adult novel. Check out her blog at Clouded Memories for more information and a journal chronicling her latest foray into novel writing.