Monday, February 2, 2009

Tactics of the Ice Cream War - (from the front line).

I was really hanging out for an ice-cream. It was hot. Very bloody hot. I was certain the tar on the road surface was bubbling. I had the hunger-thirst and was squirming, wriggling like those silkworms I'd nurtured in late Spring.
There were six of us in the family station wagon and I was hoping that the holiday budget still had a dollar or two left for frozen treats. I looked around and got the silent command from older brother and sisters. Once again I was to launch the assault, just like Sergeant Saunders in 'Combat'.

The 'Sarge'

The difference was that he had a sub-machine gun and a shield of invincibility . All I had was a child's voice and eight years of life. Bugger. This was the last time I was going to be the youngest child in a family. I'd have to get myself either a fake moustache or a machine gun. Nevertheless the order had been given. Form up and get on with it.

"Can we stop for an ice-cream?" My opening ploy was always reasonable and to the point.

"You just had lunch!" Mum was always the first to repel the first advance.

"That was hours and hours ago!" Never leave exaggeration in the ammo bunker.

"Stop complaining!" Shit. That was middle sister blindsiding me. She was the one usually masterminding our assault tactics but here she was, leaving me on the wire with parental machine guns swinging around, ready to open up their horrific, great maws. At me. Shit!

"Yeah, you're always doing this." older brother came in like one of those really nasty Kraut half-tracks which always threatened to ambush Sergeant Saunders and the squad.

Man, something was wrong. Terribly, horribly, desparately wrong. I shut up, the equivalent of ducking behind a hedge so the Nazis couldn't see me. But what had happened to the squad? And our objective of liberating the Land Of Ice-cream? So my siblings were now Nazi Synthesisers (as my brother called the traitors)? A bit late for that! The war was already well progressed and we'd made significant ground over the past couple of years. My sisters had bicycles, I had a toy guitar and older brother had a cricket bat. Man, I was shell shocked. I gazed out the rear window. The thousand yard stare. I was trying to figure out the song line I'd missed as we motored down the Pacific Highway. Pacific? Hardly.

Here I was looking at where we'd been, picking out white horses and trying to figure out how the squad had been turned by The Enemy. Sarge would have known. He would have spotted the traitors. War was hell. After a few minutes of this and I was almost asleep. Catching a soldier's nap between battles.

Then it came:

"I guess its not that bad of an idea" eldest sister opened up from a flanking position, startling me back to weapons-ready status.
"It is pretty hot and we've still another two hours to go." she added with teenaged wisdom. God bless her hockey socks!

"Oh, s'pose so." older brother from the other flank. The squad was in action at last!

"Yeah, okay then." Middle sister, tactical genius, bordering Machiavelli, confirmed the order in the form of a fait accomplit. Would it work? Was The Enemy ready to haul up the white flag?

The tension was now roping us kids into a tight, nervous bundle. Would we become prisoners or victors? Would They concede the battle? Now I knew how Corporal Kirby felt as he waited for the half-track to pass by.

Dirty krauts

"Okay, we'll stop at the next shop. Who wants what?" Victory! Yeah! Fireworks went off and The Dancing Man cut his jig down the highway.

Yip yip yip yahoo! Victory!

I reckon Mum secretly loved this. She gave in a lot of the time. Dad gave in e-v-e-r-y time but only when he was alone in battle. He really really loved ice creams. Four decades later I'd bust him out of his dementia nursing home to go on ice-cream sorties.

Siss had really figured this one out well. I could see her consulting with the Sarge. I'm sure that I saw him sauntering back behind a distant copse as we pulled over at the next shop. He gave a casual tip to his helmet as we all piled out yelling our victory song.


  1. Great post!

    I had to fight those battles on my own, my brother was too big a nerd and my sister too young.

  2. had 11 years as an only child aso had to fight me own battles.

    thems were hard times!

  3. That was hilarious ... can remember the similar tactics when I was a kid.

  4. nmate, that was well done. With two younger sisters I had to LEAD from the front. On occasion I would scrifice a sibling or two. WHATEVER IT TAKES.

  5. That post brings back some memories!

    I can't remember ever winning any of those battles though. It was hard enough to get Dad to stop for a piss. And the only thing he really liked stopping for was beef jerky.

    Congrats on your several sucessful assaults

  6. Younger bro and I had six years between us, by which stage you start thinking of yourself as a surrogate third parent. Still needed to put us in opposing corners of the back seat of an '82 Falcon XE with a stack of pillows or an Esky to keep us apart. The Esky was full of sandwiches, fruit and pre-mixed cordial to prevent any diversions to roadside fast food joints en route from northern NSW to our grandparents' place in inner western Syderney ten or eleven hours south... or even, for three months as memorable as they were deeply traumatic, circumnavigating the big wide flat brown thing with a dodgy pop-top caravan hanging off the towbar.

    We're both a'ight now though. I think. I'm trying to be a research scientist and he's trying to be a rock star. We're both tryhards it seems.

  7. Oh Havock having two sisters I'd love to be a fly on the wall to some of that growing up ROL!! Herbs very good post and YES let's get some ice cream :)

  8. Naut - yeah but solo missions can be character building
    Chaz - the scars, hide the scars
    Rhino - thanks. The battles eemed endless didn'they?
    Hav - anything for victory
    Lermy - you could have used the throw-up plot but that was ever only a weapon of last resort.
    Doc - the 'bring your own' was always a tactic we had to defeat. Luckily there were four of us prowling the flanks and hitting the centre
    Thanks Beauty S - Hav would have been a take charge older brother.

  9. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

    I loved it when Dad would threaten to turn around and go back home and we had just drive 500 miles and our destination was 10 minutes away. He never did turn around but we behaved - Just in case...

  10. Used to love Combat!

    They should put it back on. And Twelve o'clock High.

  11. Abe, combat is back on FOXTELLLY..mmmmm, showin ya age buddy. I swear hae NEVAAAR heard of it before..Honest!

  12. oh and SPANKY..YA never getting me sisters contact details..evaaaaar!

  13. Al - I used to hate "just over the next hill" when asked about our detsination
    Abe - 12 O'clock High was one of the best!
    Hav - yeah, maybe I was just pretending to have seen it when I was a young tacker but actually watched it on Foxtel. Thanks for the cover. Sergeant Saunders is The Man!