Gini and I were discussing bikes in her room when we heard the faint tones of a cell phone coming from… Somewhere.
“That’s not mine,” Gini said.
“Nor mine,” I replied.
We listened harder, and eventually made out the faint, tinny strains of “The Entertainer,” an electronic ragtime drifting in through our window. We grinned, electrified.
“ICE CREAM MAN!” we shouted, running out of the house.
“Do you have your wallet?” Gini asked.
“Yes!” I cried.
“Do you have cash?”
“Yes!” I cried again. The parking lot I’d been in the other day hadn’t taken credit cards, so I’d been ripped off at an ATM that had charged me $3.00 to get a twenty-dollar bill, but that was okay because God wanted me to have ice cream truck ice cream today.
We raced outside, breathless…
…only to see the white bumper of the truck about five houses down, almost around the corner, too distant to flag down. There were no kids, and it was nearly too far to catch. But I could have.
See, in the olden days before I began exercising, that distance would have knackered me. I would have gotten two houses down and been out of breath, and even if I had caught up with the truck I would have been too exhausted to order.
But now, I was reasonably fit. The ice cream truck was moving now, it had just edged past another house and was angling ‘round the bend for the corner, but I could have launched myself out in a flat-out run for the truck, pounding the pavement at full speed as I ate up the sidewalk to catch up with it, slap the window, and snag myself a Chocolate Éclair Bar fresh from the freezer, only a little out of breath.
My feet, however, refused to move. And I knew why.
When a twelve-year-old does it, it’s cute. But when a thirty-seven-year old balding man launches himself at an ice cream truck, screaming, “ICE CREAM! WAIT! ICE CREAM!” with unabashed happiness and flailing arms in an attempt to grab the driver’s attention, it looks, well….
“It would have looked a little retarded,” Gini said, and there was no other word to describe it. I would have, quite literally, looked like I had just escaped from the special ed class, and the ice cream truck driver would have wondered what sort of brain malady I suffered from as I happily handed over my wadded-up dollar bills.
I’m not a kid any more. But I feel like one. I just can’t act like one, or people will wonder what the hell is wrong with me.
There are battles I’m willing to fight to keep my youth; I’ll play with water pistols, and I’ll read comics, and I’ll laugh out loud in public. But becoming the Big Kid With Downs’ Syndrome to get an ice cream cone is not a situation I want to endure (at least not in my neighborhood). And so I sit here, sans ice cream, hoping to God he comes around again before I leave.