Photo credit: gwen
For those of you planning to pull pranks on the ice cream truck driver this summer, here’s a tip: If one of your pranks involves climbing a tree with a well-crafted dummy and hurling it in front of the approaching ice cream truck, it is usually a mistake to set it on fire first.
When I was a kid, my neighborhood had a high turnover rate for ice cream truck drivers. The reason, of course, was that my cousin Steve and I, who lived just one street apart back then, were constantly planning crueler and crueler pranks to play on them. Each new ice cream man quickly learned that when he got close to Steve’s house, he needed to step on the accelerator and speed by as fast as possible thus shortening his time in the “Hot Zone.”
Like most twelve-year-old-boys, we started out with the classic water balloons and dirt clods, and then advanced to more elaborate, sophisticated pranks such as those requiring various types of illegal fireworks.
But, then we got the dummy idea.
There are two proper methods to throwing a dummy out of a tree and into the path of a moving ice cream truck: a.) Face-up-horizontal as if some knucklehead accidentally fell out of the tree to die a horrible screaming death beneath the truck, or b.) Face-down-horizontal as if someone purposely catapulted out of the tree to commit an ice cream truck related fantasy suicide.
We went with “suicide.”
But, first, we had to build the perfect dummy. We started off with old clothes, which we stuffed with other old clothes; then we used one of those white, Styrofoam wig-stands for the head and used sticky double-back tape to attach a Freddy-from-Scooby-Doo Halloween mask for the face. Gloves and shoes completed the form.
One of us, I think it was Steve, thought it would greatly enhance the effect if we saturated Freddy’s upper torso and head with Raging Rocket High-Octane Barbeque Starter Fluid then light it off just before we tossed the dummy out of the tree.
It’s funny how it never occurred to us that this was a bad idea until the exact moment the dummy erupted into flames.
We were sitting in the lower branches of the tree which hung about four-feet above where the roof of the ice cream truck would eventually pass. As the ice cream truck approached, Steve let go of the flaming upper torso leaving me holding the knees pressed against a limb and causing the dummy to swing down to stare directly at the ice cream truck driver.
The plan was for both of us to let go of the dummy at the same time so it would fall just in front of the truck, but I momentarily froze in the wake of the tall flames—hesitating just long enough for the truck to get underneath before I snapped-out-of-it and dropped my half.
I can only imagine what this looked like to the ice cream truck driver: He’s slowly driving along, minding his own business blasting Pop-Goes-the-Weasel from his loud speaker, when the flaming upper torso of a body swings out of a tree upside-down; the friendly smile of Freddy quickly melting and distorting into a rictus grin shouting fire like a blowtorch.
As it turned out, the dummy landed square on top of the ice cream truck, lying on its back with its arms spread out, blazing away. We watched as the truck made its way down the street, turned the corner, and continued on its regular route to deliver treats. The flaming body, now appearing as if the driver placed it up there on purpose, sent a confusing message to those wanting ice cream. I doubt he sold many ice cream bars that day.
We never found out if the burning dummy did any damage to the truck, nor did we ever play another prank on that guy. In fact, if we heard Pop-Goes-the-Weasel, we just went in the house.