Soft Serve

3 before church fall

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

I remember dipping low in the backseat of my Dad’s little Nissan truck sometime in the 1980s; I was seated in a sideways jump seat, trying to hide from the drive through worker. 650AM was just barely audible through the speakers. I held my head against the backwindow where it was vented (it didn’t roll down) to get a breeze.

I also remember Mom and Dad had picked me up from my friend David’s house where we had a highly competitive game of backyard football going on in David’s front yard. David’s two older brothers were all-time QBs. It’s called “backyard football” no matter where it happens – so long as it doesn’t involve officials or pads.

Do kids still play backyard football? I’m not sure I’ve seen a game going on in years.

My hair line was damp with summer sweat, my face flushed, my knees and the palms of my hands skinned from being tackled repeatedly on summer burnt grass turned brown and rocky dirt.

“I’d like 3 soft serves, please,” said my dad to the McDonald’s speaker. There was a long pause and then instructions to pull around.

Soft serves?, I thought. Ice Cream.

No matter what he called it, it tasted great after a game of backyard front yard football. 

Those were also the days when my Dad used to pick me and my friends up from “real” football practice at the Junior High across town in his truck – we’d ride home across major highways and roads in the back of the truck, our shoulder pads and helmets in our laps.

I don’t know why I remember that trip for ice cream so vividly. We didn’t go out to eat often – almost never really. And I don’t remember getting soft serve frequently either, but for some reason I’ll never forget your Papaw ordering soft serves at McDonalds. 

I also don’t know why when we pulled through McDonalds a few nights ago as family I ordered 5 soft serves.

“Dad!” you shouted from the backseat, Izzy. “Soft serves?”

“What’s that?”, you asked Kate. 

Max, you laughed your deep little boy laugh sensing that whatever was happening was indeed funny. Boys know these things about their dads, especially when their sisters seem frazzled by what’s happening.

“Ice cream Kate,” you said Izzy. “Dad calls it soft serve. Dad why do you always do that?” 

Your mommy sat staring straight ahead with a big smile on her face. 

“Soft serves baby,” I said with a twinkle in my eye as I pulled forward. By the time we were home you had it all over you. 

I love you,