Monday, January 22, 2007

Get the Bell off my Street -- jcarolek

One of the many family rules under which I lived as a youngster concerned the Ice Cream man. Now understand, this staple of American summertime was popular in my neighborhood. But my father had several issues with the whole concept. 

First and foremost, he did not want the guy to park in front of our house and ring that blasted bell. My father was convinced that if we purchased from this guy once, he would stop in front of our house every day. I think his assumption was valid, considering we had six children and the stop would have been a lucrative one.

Secondly, Dad was convinced that the ice cream man would gyp us (you know they are all out to steal kids’ money.)
Third, we didn’t have any money ourselves, so Dad would have to cough up the money for our frozen fancies.
Finally, the timing of the ice cream man’s trip through our neighborhood never failed to coincide with Dad’s preferred, “nap time” (reference reason number one…logic becomes circular.)

So, it was that my youngest brother, Ray decided to quietly slip out of the house during naptime one warm afternoon. He wanted one of those ice cream bars. He had birthday money and he had a plan. At three, he was quite a smart kid. He knew he would be able to get away with this only once. He ran to the corner where the truck’s driver was serving other kids. He looked up at the man and indicated his choice. He selected two….one for now and one for later.

Back to the house he ran and snuck inside without disturbing the sleeping grown-ups. I am unclear as to whether my other brothers were aware of his actions, but I’m certain my sister and I were not.

Ray enjoyed his first ice cream in relative peace and quiet. He put the second away for a later time. Well, habit is as habit does and Ray forgot about his second ice cream until a couple of days later when Mom was putting away the boys’ clothes.

I remember with clarity the look on poor Ray’s face, when Mom discovered his ice cream bar, carefully tucked in his drawer of the chest which was shared by the four brothers. The orange pool of goo that had once been his most sought after delicacy had to be explained to the number two rule maker, and he was well aware of the fact that he had broken the rule. I suppose we all have made such blunders in our childhood. I presume it is through mistakes such as these, storing an ice cream bar in a chest of drawers, that we learn to get better at breaking the rules!

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