I Scream as They Scream About Ice Cream

puppetTheatre_lrgSummer doesn’t officially end until September 22nd, but the end of the season for me is just over the horizon as the boys start school tomorrow.

Its been a nice couple of months filled with swimming, tennis camp, a trip to NYC and various other activities reserved for out of school pleasure.  This included an almost daily trip to a yogurt place in town called, Berrylicious though their name will be changing shortly as someone else called their shop the same name – kind of reminds me of that scene in Spinal Tap, where the band started out as The Originals, but then another band in the east end called themselves The Originals so Tap changed their name to The New Originals and then the other band changed their name to The Regulars.

Point being – sweet, frozen treats are synonymous with summer, but this charming vision of youth is being threatened by the usual collection of parental do gooders who would ban the neighborhood ice cream person because they are tempting their little angels with Bomb Pops, Dixie Cups and Nestle Crunch bars before dinner.

Picture a sparkling day in Brooklyn, in Chicago, in Cleveland, an urban park where children play and laugh.  And then, across the way, the colorful truck, the hypnotic, murderous jingle, the semi-trustable guy peering out at the kids waving a Sponge Bob ice cream bar with gumballs for eyes at their level.

Then see the carrot, apple slice, organic granola bar toting, Jessica Seinfeld discipled mom, powerless against the pull of history.  The meltdown ensues as does the inevitable call to the Public Works department to ban the ice cream truck from the park. Oh, it’s done under the ruse of eliminating unlicensed vehicles from the area but it’s really about control.  I’ll feed my kid the sugary stuff when I decide, not when you flash the lights.

Neither Ben or Jerry stands a chance against these confectionery crusaders when they set their mind to something.

Yes, we need to have an everything in moderation mantra for feeding our kids treats.  And yes, I’ve shielded my kids from the truck, walking out of my way where they heard the expletive laced trash talking coming from the public basketball courts, rather than the evil music emanating from Mr. Softee’s wheels.

But as the summer comes to a close, I look back on all the things I did when I was their age: left my house unannounced to walk or ride my bike, sometimes miles away, to see a friend.  Stayed out past dark playing stickball, or football, or hockey without a care in the world.  Even ran out as the Good Humor truck made its slow roll down my street, pre-dinner, with dollar in hand.

Those times are long gone, at least in all the places I’ve called home since my idyllic Long Island childhood ended.  That’s why I let the kids have ice cream after a long, hot summer day.

If you’re not going to eat it then…

Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 11:05 am  Leave a Comment  

New York City to World: Drop Dead

3066319207_2c0031a3f2I wish my month away from the blogosphere could be attributed to some grand goings on, but alas, all the usual culprits were present:  work, kids off from school, nothing to write about, suburban ennui.

But thanks to that last procrastination excuse, I left the confines of my Encino subdivision two weeks ago for a gaudy, old Manhattan vacation and came back with a new found appreciation for my hometown, but not so much that I longed to live there again.

That’s the thing about NYC, it has the power to inspire and revile, often on a walk between Park and Madison.

The trip began with the usual rush hour cab crawl from JFK to the city but what LA born and raised kid doesn’t love the inside of a taxi?  Even though they now feature TV’s showing what basically amount to promotional videos, the boys were much more fascinated with our driver.  For there’s perhaps nothing as cute this side of a kitten falling asleep on You Tube that compares to an 8 and 6 year old trying to pronounce a name that’s got sixteen letters and no vowels in it.  But the guy was super nice and a great sport and tried his best to answer all their questions, notably Ben’s asking him what he’s going to do for a job once his license expires.

Eventually we made our way to the cozy pleasures of the Upper West Side where we dropped off our bags, and strolled across the street, Woody style, to the local Italian cubbie hole.  This, at its core is the simplistic beauty of the city.  Home in LA, whether you are headed out to dinner with the kids or just another couple, it’s a production before you leave the house – who’s going to drive, should we pick you up or you pick us up?  How long will it take us to get to Beverly Hills, should we take the canyon, the freeway, etc.  Will we have enough time to find street parking or just valet?

None of these questions are necessary in the Apple that is big.

And its magic touched us in many ways (cue: getting groped on the Subway joke here).  Ben, someone who literally only drinks water suddenly felt the need to have coffee (decaf) at every meal.  And like a true New Yorker, each morning’s jaunt to the counter at Zabar’s was an invitation for him to strike up a conversation with anyone who sat next to him, friendly strangers that were regaled with his life’s ambitions of either playing in the NHL or being a bartender (he of wildly diverse vocational aspirations).

Our days were spent walking, a lot, also a rude awakening for those children of LA, who’s sneakers are generally kept immaculate by never touching pavement.  But exploring any city on foot is a pleasure we don’t often appreciate and it made the vacation all the more special.

If there’s a recession going on, the city found a way to hide it from us.  Every restaurant and bar that lined Columbus and Amsterdam (and the Village) was packed, though we seemed to be the only ones with kids.  LA may have a reputation as Nannyville, USA but other than the park, where were the children?  No doubt sent to some upstate summer camp while their parents frolicked in the city or out in the Hamptons.  For as I can attest, there’s nothing like dragging two tikes around like dingy’s off your yacht to slow down your NYC lifestyle.

NYC is alive and well, and dare I say much better than when I left in 1990.  Sure, there are people who will complain about the Disneyfication of their formally crime and grime wonderland, but for me New York is best enjoyed when its clean, friendly and raising its collective middle finger at the world saying, sure come on and visit, then get out.

Which was alright by me because after a week of sharing my personal space with the rest of humanity, all I wanted to do was get back into my car and try to remember what pavement actually feels like.

Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment