July 7, 2008

Send Help! Ice Cream Man Coming ‘Round Your Mountain Soon




"She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes. ..."

Since the very first moment the sun sliced through the clouds of March, and children began to once again consider the outside world as a hospitable, even alluring environment, the Ice Cream Man has filled our neighborhood with the ubiquitous audible reminder that he will be "coming around the mountain" all too soon.

I hardly exaggerate when I say that I have heard his dog- worrying, molar vibrating, plucked-from-an-electronic-greeting-card "music" at least 2,000 times this spring. For those of you who haven't already whipped out your calculators and divided 2,000 by the 91 days of spring, that's roughly 22 times per day. Granted, that's a pretty steep number of times for any man to come around anyone else's mountain, no matter how often he can quadruple his money by splitting a box of ice-pops 12 ways. In reality the guy only comes through our neighborhood a couple of times a week, but when he does, his piercing, annoying tune so thoroughly permeates my brain that I carry the song with me for days on end.

Ever succumb to relentless mental replays of a commercial jingle? Ever have an old showtune stuck in your head? Ever catch one little riff of a favorite song as you're flipping channels and you just can't get it out of your mind until you hear the thing in its entirety? Take all of those somewhat innocuous musical experiences and replace them with "Coming 'Round the Mountain" as played on a dollar-store keyboard, and you might find yourself joining me in the dream that one day all of the Ice Cream Man's "Bomb Pops" will spontaneously detonate just as he flips on his loudspeaker.

Suffering for the better part of three months I had begun to fantasize: I'd organize a neighborhood coalition, maybe spawn a petition drive, even lead a march of like-minded citizens (bearing pitchforks, torches and ear plugs, of course) against the relentless brain pollution that had me rapidly "driving six white horses" toward the edge of my personal abyss. Then, just as I was mustering the moxie to act, the Ice Cream Man changed his tune!

I was in the yard when the distant tonal beep of a brand new ice cream anthem floated in on a breeze. The tune was so different, so strange, and at first, so completely unrecognizable, that I actually had to see the ice cream truck before I was willing to accept the change as truth.

Now I'm not sure what sorts of options are typically available when it comes to selecting the music for an ice cream truck. I don't know if some corporate marketing guru makes the call, or if the process involves a focus group of sticky fingered 6-year-olds, or even if the Ice Cream Man himself sits down with a fudge pop and a catalog of jingles. All I know is that the new music aboard the ice cream truck vividly reminds me of something from a documentary about westward bound pioneers!

Listen, I realize I'm sort of a weird dude, but you've got to believe me when I say that I've heard this very same tune before as part of the soundtrack for a film on the ill-fated Donner Party -- California-bound pioneers who, when trapped by a blizzard in the Sierra Nevada, found it necessary to eat their former traveling companions to avoid starvation.

If this is indeed the same music, I've got to hand it to the person who made the selection; it does employ some fundamental elements of good marketing as the tune can conjure a pretty vivid image of both "hunger" and "cold." (Admittedly, it does, however, fall a bit short in the "tasty treats" category.) Hey, maybe he can throw in a verse of the old song to give it an upbeat ending: "We will all have chicken and dumplings when she comes." (Yum, yum).

Originally published by By JOHN C. LORSON Columnist.

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