Sunday, June 12, 2011


Our neighborhood is fairly mundane. Small, single-family homes with small, single-family yards. However, the houses on average probably hold five kids. We have one. More than a few have none. The others are making up for it. When the school bus stops here in the morning, the spawn of this neighborhood (a single street, and not terribly long) take up about 2/3s of that bus.

Into this copious abundance of children are drawn a particular creature: the mobile ice cream truck. I used to think that ice cream trucks were nice, probably because they weren't around where I grew up. What's not to like about someone driving at pedestrian speed past your house, delivering creamy, iced treats without a mercenary markup? I'll tell you what: these dudes are vicious. Territorial as lions and vicious as sharks.

The first truck I noticed was blue, and playing an instrumental version of Under the Sea (from Disney's The Little Mermaid) in eardrum-splitting range. He had sole reign of the neighborhood our first year in the house. The next year, two more trucks showed up - a white one and a red one - speeding into the neighborhood to avoid detection, then slowing and blaring their own music. One was a festive rendition of a Mexican folk song, the other a kind of jazzed-up march. I rather liked the second. They'd creep about, until the blue truck arrived, and which point they would speed away.

The incursions went on for the better part of the summer, after which there was a lull. No ice cream trucks, no music heralding their arrival. After about a week, the blue and the red ones returned. It's been two years, and they still patrol the streets daily, though never at the same time.

Based on the rudimentary evidence at hand, and a certain street smarts I've cultivated over the years, I believe that the blue truck called a meeting under the guise of developing a schedule within which all parties would be allocated territories and time slots. And then he attacked. White truck obviously didn't make it, but red and blue struck a deal. If red would help hide the body, blue would allow it some market share. I never saw anything in the paper to support this, but it's clear something happened.

I wonder sometimes if white truck left someone behind, a widow with a lantern burning in her window, waiting for her brave but ultimately very gullible spouse to return.


  1. OK, this is the cutest thing I've read in a while.

    I often comment upon the neighborhood ice cream trucks. Unlike your neighborhood, though, ours are quite mercenary, charging outrageous prices for some items.

    We have 2 competing trucks but the man in the motorcycle with sidecar version has been dubbed by my youngest a Herbert the Pervert pedophile. Oddly enough, he doesn't come around as much, and my son has thrown his hat in the arena, selling sugar free popsicles and offering bulk discounts. I made him complete a business plan that including a forecast and charged him 50 cents, which he gladly paid, to drive him to buy his inventory. That's my boy!

  2. I think white was left for dead in a ditch out of town, but he survived. He's in Tibet studying stealth and ice cream recipes.
    Meanwhile, blue and red are slipping money bags through tinted windows in dodgy carparks.

    White will return in a pimped-out truck, and when he does, blue and red won't know what side-swiped them ... :D

  3. Claire, you made him write up a business plan? *dies of teh awesome*

    O.o Oh, Jaime, how the plot just thickened!

  4. Man, this brings back memories. I haven't chased down an ice cream truck in 7 or 8 years. It was so worth the 3 block, uphill sprint when I finally got my ice cream, though.

    Dude disappeared after a year, heard a couple of months later that he had been selling dope out of the truck and got popped by the popo. We haven't had a ice cream truck in this town since.

  5. No ice cream truck, Ruley? Sounds like a Career Opportunity!

    I can't believe you had to run for your ice cream. That goes against everything ice cream stands for.

  6. LOL... I'm with Jaime, I think the white truck is the loveable underdog who will come back to reclaim their turf from the conspirators.
    My neighborhood has a lone ice cream truck (Americans are always surprised by this, but I like to point out that Glasgow is basically a cute Highland village of 600,000 people :P). However, I think any ice cream truck rivalry in my neck of the woods would end in a swordfight.

  7. There is a monopoly of ice cream sellers in my city by a company and all the vans look the same. They don't play music, they ring bells. We call them the Ding-Ding Man, which in retrospect, is kind of a creepy name, but SOMEONE taught us the name when we were kids, and so the name goes, but it must be official or something because everyone calls them that.

    When I was a little girl though, our Ding-Ding Man showed up wearing nothing but a red thong. The parents had a freak out and we weren't allowed to buy from the Ding-Ding Man without a parent present.

    As an adult, I never seem to be able to get outside in time to buy something when he passes by. As a kid I had some sort of sixth sense and would be outside just as he rounded the corner. What I wouldn't give to have that sixth sense back!

  8. @Hillz - I looked into it. Those trucks, even used ones, are costing way more than I have. And I ran for the truck because it had all ready passed by the house.