Maybe If We Paint It GreenPosted: January 18, 2011
One of the great joys of childhood is the ice cream truck‘s arrival in the neighborhood.
Today’s ice cream truck doesn’t look like the one I remember. The truck sounds different too, tinkling bells replaced by a public address system playing a repetitive song on a loop. There is something about the arrival of the ice cream truck that hasn’t changed.
When I was a boy, the call that signaled that happiness on wheels was entering the neighborhood is the same as it is today. The sound of the ice cream truck creates a biological reaction in the first child in each play group to hear it. That reaction causes that boy or girl to drop what they are doing, throw their head back and yell “Ice Cream MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!”
Truck Load Of Joy For Sale
It is January, still cold and gray. Scraps of last week’s snow sit on the ice cream truck on the used car lot. I see the truck every day. No one is buying ice cream trucks in the snow. Sometimes, I think about letting out an ice cream man yell to make us both feel better about the weather.
Actually, I think about yelling to make us both feel better about the truck’s fate and to remember the joy it used to bring.
What if that ice cream truck could make a come back? What if that truck could bring back the joy that we outgrew when we stopped being kids?
Imagine a warm summer afternoon. You’re outside doing yard work. Your neighbor is painting her front porch. The snooty guy across the street tends his prize rose bushes. The sun batters all three of you.
As you push the mower across the lawn again you see the neighbor cock her head as if to listen a little closer. You’ve seen that look before and turn off the mower, anticipating what is coming. Both of you listen hard, trying to confirm that you really are hearing what you think you do.
A scrap of music reaches the neighbors ear. She drops her brush in the paint bucket, throws her head back and yells “Margarita Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!” She’s running for her front door by the time she gets to the last syllable of maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan. Mr. Snooty’s door is already closing behind him as he runs to get his money before the truck reaches your block.
By the time you bolt from your house with your money, Snooty has the truck stopped and your neighbor is behind him in line, clutching her money in a paint smeared fist. You dash out and join the line. Snooty is at the front of the line, trying to decide what to ask for. He always takes so long!
Finally he calls out, “I’ll have one, frozen, with salt on the rim” the Margarita Man asks for his money, then shakes his head. “Sorry, son, you don’t have enough” he tells Snooty. Snooty walks away dejected.
The neighbor orders a margarita on the rocks, no salt, then retreats to the shade of her porch. You order the same, get your glass and head for the porch.
As you walk from the truck, you pass Snooty, pause, and hand him some of your change. He runs to the truck, gets his margarita and joins you on the porch. Everyone sits and laughs together as they cool off. The music comes on. The truck heads off to deliver joy further into the neighborhood.
Remember when joy came into our neighborhoods in a white truck? Remember the times that the truck made you so happy you were generous to someone who you weren’t such great friends with? Remember when generosity came when you weren’t looking for it?
Maybe the Margarita Truck will come for us. Maybe it will not. Maybe we should watch and learn from what we see the kids do this summer.
I think they’re asking $4000 for that ice cream truck. It couldn’t cost that much more to paint it lime green and buy blenders.