Monday, December 31, 2012

Bill The Ice Cream Man

You could already hear the tinkle before the truck rounded the corner, came up the hill and parked itself –oh joy!—right in our driveway.

We—that would include Zachary, Aaron, Ilana and Toby—and any other neighborhood kids whose parents were as permissive—would actually jump up and down just like in commercials as we fished out our money and made up our minds.

Zachary, 8, would get a King Cone. Ilana, 3, ices, always ices. Aaron, almost 3, would get something Mommy picked out for him—usually an ice cream sandwich with three flavors inside. When baby Toby was still baby Toby she sucked on whatever Sruli got, which, of course, was ices, always ices, too. I, ever on a diet, got a Frozefruit, which, let’s face it, if you get the coconut, which of course was my favorite, was insanely fattening.

We had been happily waiting for close to an hour in the driveway;  Sruli and I playing music for all the kids, telling jokes, planning what we were gonna get “this time.”

We did this twice a week, in season, for the better part of 10 years. Ice cream night was a big deal.

Bill-the-ice-cream-man was white haired and smiley. And patient. He kind of matched his truck.  (He was always in Good Humor.)

And apparently he had been watching us too.

We had already moved out of the neighborhood a good 5 years when we saw him a few months ago at the old park—big hellos.

He asked me for my number. “I’ve known Zach now for many years, I watched him grow up,” he said. This was true. “I always saw how he took care of his brother and bought him and other children ice cream with his own money when you weren’t there.” This was also true. “I have a nice girl for him.”


“My wife and I want to have you all for dinner. Her family too. Are there any dietary restrictions?”

Wait. Won’t they just be serving ice cream?

So today we all went. Really. Because, IF she turned out to be the ONE for Zachary, how freakin’cool would that be—to be set up by your ice cream man? Already I was planning a milchig wedding brunch so we could park a you-know-what right inside our synagogue’s social hall—Candy Center Crunches for everyone!  Ices for Ilana and Sruli!

Well, Bill and the lovely Joan do NOT live in a truck. Of course I knew this, but I was a tad disappointed. So was Zachary I think.

The girl and her family were lovely, but she was not for Zachary, and maybe we all were a tad disappointed. I think.

But then—it got weirder.  As I started to talk to the Dad, and he began with the usual where do you live, etc., I said, “Well we lived in Englewood for a while until Sruli became the Rabbi of this CRAAAAAZY synagogue in North Bergen” and he shouted “Temple BETH EL?” and I shouted “YES!” and he said “I’m the president of the synagogue right up the hill from you!”

The synagogue that had been trying and trying to merge with us before Sruli came on board but our little band of congregants wouldn’t hear of it.

All together we were, this afternoon, at the house of Bill the ice-cream-man.

So he didn’t make the shidduch with Zachary and the girl, but he did get the parents together—we had LOTS to talk about and are planning—not to merge, ha ha!-- but to get together.

He really did something nice, that Bill. As did Joan. Something that people always say they’re gonna do, think they’re gonna do, really think they’re gonna do. One day.

Today, he went to a lot of trouble to set up a nice Jewish girl—from Barnard, yet!—with a nice Jewish boy he used to see out his window, summer after summer after summer.

Maybe, as the old joke goes, they were the only 2 Jewish people he knew.


After an elaborate lunch with plenty of wine, Joan went out of the room and came back with a big cardboard box.

Zachary had a King Cone. I had a Candy Center Crunch. (One of the biggest sellers, Bill told me.) Aaron was not there, but Johnny had an ice cream sandwich. Ilana was not there, but Charlie and Daddy had ices. Always ices.