Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Craving Creamsicles

I almost couldn't believe my ears.

I was walking home from the metro after checking out the new Columbia Heights Target (it's pretty good, I guess, two stories and all, but let's be honest -- it's no Van Nuys) when I heard something curious. An unoffensive tinkly bell melody playing "Do Your Ears Hang Low," of all things. It was so nostalgically familiar, and yet for a few seconds I still struggled to place it.

And then it hit me. This was the unmistakable siren song of the old-school ice cream truck. You know, the kind that drove around our neighborhoods when we were little, doling out classic treats with which to cool off. The kind that made its appearance only during the hauntingly beautiful dusk hours of California summers, when the sun dropped below the hills and the suburbs were bathed in dusty lavender hues; a light that still warms me all the way through because, for an hour a day, it makes the world look just right.

I started to crave something cold and sweet, but not the dulce de leche sundae cups or SpongeBob-shaped popsicles or double chocolate ice cream bars with bittersweet chips and pomegranate ribbons that seem to be so in vogue these days. This craving was simpler, the kind of thing I'd always order from the snack bar at the JCC's pool -- old-fashioned delights like vanilla ice cream sandwiches, fudge bars, and creamsicles. Maybe a drumstick, if I was feeling spendy and risqué.

As I stood on 14th Street SE, salivating at the thought of the unexpectedly dreamy marriage of orange popsicle and sweet vanilla cream, it occurred to me that I didn't even know they still ran ice cream trucks. It's incredibly reassuring to discover that such a symbol of innocence still exists in this sometimes fucked-up world.

...Even if it has turned me into one of Pavlov's dogs.

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