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Ice cream in March?

March 30, 2019

The tinny music is unmistakably an ice cream truck, even though March feels early for one to be out.

It’s a familiar tune, though not one that feels classic ice-cream-truck-ish.  What is it?  The itch on my brain says its familiar from childhood.  Brahm’s Lullabye?  That doesn’t feel quite right.  The tune my music box would play when I turned its crank?

All of a sudden I know, and I’m transported back to college.  My dad has sent me a mix tape for my 21st birthday and I’ve popped the tape into my boom box to listen.  Dad didn’t put the titles on the cassette cover, just a picture of a street sign with arrows pointing in both directions, so I’m not sure what will be on it.

Three songs in, this melody–the one I’m now hearing piped through the early ice cream truck–starts playing.  It takes me less time to recognize it on the tape than in the ice cream truck version, but there are still a few bars of “I know this…..” before I place it.

It’s “Music Box Dancer”, my favorite song from when I was 4.  That was the period of time when it played frequently on the radio, and my four-year-old self loved it.  The song conjured up visions for me of the beautiful, tutu-wearing ballet dancer who spun in a circle when I opened my recently acquired jewelry box.  When the song came on the radio, I would dance around in the back seat (all around, since this was in the days before seat belts).  For a while, I’d hear the song often, then it started playing less and less frequently, and eventually I realized that radio stations had stopped playing it altogether.

I haven’t heard the song since then.  And here it is, on this mix tape for my birthday.  I marvel at my dad remembering this song and finding a copy to include on the mix.

And now, many years since I’ve had a cassette player in my living room, the song appears again, conjuring up memories of double-arrow-ed mix tapes that say “I love you” and seat belt-less dancing.

It’s never too early for an ice cream truck.

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One Comment
  1. Our brains work in such interesting ways. Senses trigger such powerful responses (a la Proust), and I relate well to the rich associations you have to this song.

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