“Wake up and piss, the world’s on fire,” my step-dad used to yell up to me every morning through the railing of my bedroom loft. I would simply roll over and wonder what my mother saw in this vile man whom, with bitter irony, would get so plastered drinking Milwaukee’s Best that he’d forget where the bathroom was and piss next to the coal burning stove. Had I had more balls at age fourteen I would have hollered back to him that he had already put out the fire the night before. Alas I did not. It seems for my whole life the universe has been coming up with new and sardonic ways of getting my ass out of bed.
To put it mildly, I’ve never been a morning person.
After my step-father had urinated his last in our home, the task of waking me was once again set upon my mom’s shoulders. She’d shout at me to get up. And I – thinking myself rather crafty – would shout back, “I’m awake!” Then I’d quickly go back to sleep for fifteen more minutes.
Three months ago the cosmos pulled out all of the stops realizing that, after 35 years, it was time to get serious and take a new and devious stand in an attempt to roll me out of my $1100 mattress. It’s instrument? The ice cream truck.
The first time I heard it I was thwarted back to my childhood in the small Wyoming neighborhood of Cheyenne. My tree-lined suburban street was filled with youngsters and when we heard that whimsical tune it was like a call to run with the bulls at Pamplona. Hordes of children dashing after the truck for red, white and blue bomb pops, fudgesicles, and the man in the blue hat who doled out these icy treats for a mere twenty-five cents. Our parents didn’t escort us holding our hands either, we quite literally ran with and against each other, our bony elbows not unlike horns, our saliva just as sticky as the male bovine. The first day of the ice-cream truck offered a lovely trip down memory lane.
The next day, however, I was not wondrously transported into a memory of my youth. I was slightly annoyed that my sleep was interrupted after a long night at the bar. I sucked it up, rolled over, and shoved my tiny blue earplugs so far into my ears that I think I pulled out part of my brain upon removing them, though that may just have been my hangover.
The third day, like clockwork, I heard the familiar tune *Turkey in the Straw* and sat up in my bed cursing the fucking truck and whomever was driving it. Did he not understand that people were sleeping? I’m grateful that my neighbors were at work at that ungodly hour so they didn’t hear my expletives and threats through the heater vents, just as I hear them having morning sex at 6:00 a.m.
By day four I was a raving lunatic as I heard the first note carrying itself towards my window. I ran to my living room to see if I could catch a glimpse of the mechanical tool of Satan. What I experienced was utter shock. It was the most adorable ice cream truck I’ve ever seen: candy apple red and gleaming white with the same colors striped together to form an awning. In bright yellow letters on the back of said vehicle were the words, “Pleez watch for children.” I ignored the fact that some daft prick misspelled “please” and refrained from pulling out my Winchester 270 to blow out the trucks tires, and the driver, if I could get a good shot – instead I realized that I might possibly be the most evil girl ever.
In my defense, I essentially live in a bar district surrounded by the projects. It is more likely that the ice cream truck would sell three eight-balls before he would sell one chocolate drumstick. In the four years I’ve lived here, I have never once seen a child under the age of sixteen.
I decided to research the evil ways of ice cream trucks across the land but must admit to my utter shame upon reading a line in an article from Stafford Township that said, “what kind of scrooges are anti-ice-cream?”
Am I the Ebenezer of frozen food for tots or are my real issues helping to heat the earth’s core? My curiosity of this ice cream truck man is pallpable. Does he enjoy his life? Is he living his passion through cow byproducts and the glow of tiny faces eying his wares? And, if so, how can it be so easy? Why can’t I be satisfied with such a simple life? Why do I so utterly fear an ordinary one? Is he waking up every day, whistling with the birds, pressing his ice cream uniform while his pleasantly plump wife makes him flapjacks? What makes him so happy? And if my fear of the ordinary runs so deep and my need to write keeps hacking at my soul, why am I sleeping until 4:00 p.m. every day? Why am I not up whistling over a pot of coffee and a pack of Marlboro Menthols (my breakfast) while I work on my novel? Does he know the secrets, is he working for the universe, rather than Beelzebub, in trying to wake me from a much deeper sleep than my nightly slumber?
It’s fall and I imagine the ice cream truck is cocooned safely within a garage in Parma. Finally I will rest.
Or not. This morning, creation unzipped it’s pants and instead of a flow of urine it was the blasting drone of paint from a gun the size of Rhode Island. The city has decided to paint the bridge beside my bedroom window. I picture the workers out there in the fog doing a paint by numbers project. I imagine that they’re only on the number 3 out of 1,000,000.
It’s no longer my step-father, nor my mother, nor the ice cream truck, but, “Universe” I get it. I’m awake, just fifteen more minutes.”