As soon as I exited I-10 yesterday, with only one mile left on my drive home from work, I found myself stopped at a red light behind an ice cream truck. I couldn't hear the strains of "Red Wing", so I assumed the driver was off duty. That made sense. There's a ton of traffic in that area.
The light changed and we both turned left, and that's when I noticed that the ice cream man couldn't seem to decide which lane he wanted to be in. (Maybe it takes that kind of person to be patient all day while kids try to decide between Popsicles and Nutty Buddies.) At any rate, he finally settled in front of me again and stayed there until we both turned onto the narrow, two-lane road that leads to my street. On that road, too, there's a lot of traffic, so if the ice cream man had even attempted to peddle his wares at that moment, hands would have flown out of car windows, all of them pointed in his direction, all of them ordering just one big one.
The ice cream man must have known better, because he still didn't turn on his music, but he did slow down to a creeping, ice-cream-truck pace of 15 miles per hour. And for a solid half mile, until we turned in opposite directions, I watched his big square white truck, painted in colorful, kid-friendly signs, weave back and forth across his lane, repeatedly crossing over the yellow line on his left and narrowly missing the ditch on his right.
How could this be? This was the Ice Cream Man, that hero of my childhood. It broke my heart to think that the man who stood at that window, smiling and dispensing frozen bars of Heaven, stood on feet of clay.