Have you ever seen a dog when it hears a train coming? The dog hears it about 40 seconds before you do. Its head pops up alertly. The dog's ears spring to attention. It looks around with a curious, puzzled glare, one eyebrow cocked, trying to figure out what exactly that sound is. Is it a cat? Another dog? A giant ribeye tumbling down the street?
About the time you hear the familiar rumble of train tracks, the dog has already figured it out and has gone back to napping or licking itself or whatever it was doing prior to the interruption.
I had my "dog hearing a train" moment the other day while playing with my kids in the backyard. With yelling and laughing and running going on all around me, I heard it faintly in the distance. It was familiar, but I couldn't place it. I stopped what I was doing, lifted my head skyward and listened intently. It sounded like merry-go-round music, but with a faintly recognizable melody - different than regular carousel music.
Suddenly, it clicked.
"If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain... if you're not into yoga, if you have half a brain..."
What? There's a merry-go-round playing "The Piña Colada Song" in my neighborhood? It was then I realized what was emitting those glorious/hideous sounds.
I took off running as fast as I could, headed toward the house and my change jar, leaving my kids bewildered and alone in the yard. As I neared the backdoor, without breaking stride, I screamed "I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM! IT'S THE ICE CREAM TRUCK!"
When I was a kid, the ice cream came to our neighborhood about once every four years. But no matter when it came, or where we were, the carnivalesque jingle-jangle of its loud speaker was instantly recognizable. Because of its rare appearances in our locale, the neighborhood kids went berserk with excitement. It could be 3:30 in the morning and we would have heard it through our slumber, jumped out of bed, scrambled through our parents' change jars, or in my particular case, my father's pockets, and been waiting in front of our house before the ice cream truck turned the corner.
My five-year-old son had told me there was an ice cream truck in town, but like the story he told me about the monster that ate his bongos - I thought it too good to be true.
I met the ice cream truck in front of our house before it turned the corner, waving a $5 bill high in the air, standing on my tip-toes. My children weren't far behind, screaming "I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM!" - one of the few phrases that is impossible to utter in a whisper.
Hearing our ruckus, some other neighborhood kids met us on the street and I, being more excited than them, proudly proclaimed that all the ice cream was on me.
I found that some things have changed about the ice cream truck since I was a kid. Mainly, that $5 won't buy ice cream for all the kids in your neighborhood anymore, or even all the kids in your family. I had to go back in the house for a second raid of my change jar. Secondly, the ice cream truck musical selections have become a tad more contemporary than I recall.
As we all sat on our back porch, eating our nutty-buddys and ice cream sandwiches and fudgesicles in blissful silence, I heard the ice cream truck drive off, a new selection emanating from its speakers - Jimmy Buffett's "Cheeseburger in Paradise," as if played at a circus.
`Ain't life grand?
Len Robbins is editor and publisher of The Clinch County News.