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The Treat That Bonds

Story ID:6504
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Caldwell Idaho USA
Year:2010
Person:All of us
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I walked through the field, looked both ways, and crossed the street to the old
grocery down the street from my house. Inside, several men sat on the bench below a
shelf of dusty canned goods and chatted. They barely noticed my entry.

Old Charlie cursed, “Ice cream? You want ice cream?” He stumbled, always half
drunk, around the counter and opened the freezer. Inside was a wealth of delicious flavors
held in cardboard tubs. “You kids drive me crazy!” He grumbled as he held the tub of
strawberry with one hand and struggled to gather a scoop from its frozen contents. I
watched white-faced with fear, as Charlie gathered a large scoop and placed it on a cone.
“There! That’s five cents.” I handed him the nickel my grandfather gave me. “Now get
out of my sight!” Charlie growled.

I rushed from the store and sat on the front steps. The day was warm. In the
distance, fishing boats, finished for the day, plowed the waters, as they headed to the
fish plant to unload.

I sat, watched the boats, and waited for the ice cream to melt. The first drops
began to roll over the edge of the cone before I took the first taste – cold, sweet, and
wonderful. I savored it on my tongue and let it slide down my parched throat. This was
heaven on a hot day – a little boy and an ice cream.

I licked the dripping cream as it melted, lost in thoughts only a child could
understand. I licked the ice cream down to the ridge of the cone, tilted it to the side, bit
off the end and sucked the ice cream that filled the bottom – an edible straw.

The cone, empty and soggy with liquid sugar, was devoured into my greedy
mouth. I wiped my hands on my jeans, already dirty from a day of play, and walked
home with a smile on my face.

The following summer, a truck came through our neighborhood. It rang a
bell. My brothers and I rushed outside.
We’d never seen anything like it before. It was
brightly colored and smelled of diesel fuel. Mum came outside and stood
beside us. “It’s an ice cream truck.”

She went inside and returned with five cents for each of us. “Let’s go to the street,
boys.”

We stood by the side of the road and waited for the truck to return. The street
ended about a half mile from our house. The truck had to come back. We heard the
bell grow louder. Our little faces filled with smiles. “Here it comes, Mum!” We jumped
up and down with excitement.

The truck pulled up beside us. “Hi, boys!” the man smiled through the cloud of
smoke his cigarette left around his head. “You want ice cream?”

Our smiles were his answer.

He filled three cones with a white cream. It was soft ice cream, different from
what old Charlie scooped from the tubs. I didn’t have to wait for it to melt. It was like
licking milk. Mum had three happy kittens cleaning their cones.

We got to taste that same beauty again, many years later. No one had soft ice
cream in our little neighborhood, but there was a place twenty miles from our house
called Sunnyside. It had a Dairy Queen. We sat on the side of a muddy river and enjoyed
our treat – a rare family moment.

I grew older and lost interest in ice cream.

One day I sat with a little girl on my lap. Her name was Vanessa – my little girl.
I had one arm around her and a bowl of ice cream in the other. I spooned a precious
sample into my mouth and then gave her a taste. Her year-old face lit up. A smile formed.
She became a young believer of delight.

Time passed. She aged and learned that it was unfair for daddy to have three
spoonfuls and she only got one.

I gave in. She got her own bowl.

Later, Vanessa had a brother. His name was Justin. I served them ice cream in
glass bowls with decorative swirls around the edges. They called them zippy bowls.
They’d scream, “Yes, Daddy! Ice cream in the zippy bowls please.”

Justin and Vanessa are many miles from me now, but I have grandkids. We stand
on the corner when we hear the ice cream man coming. “Poppa! Here it comes!” Their
smiles light the day.

They get their treat. I sit on the patio, watch their smiles and remember the boats
coming in with their daily catch.

Ice cream – the treat that bonds.