So … friends, Melbourne had a bit of a heat wave for a couple of days. Just the way of things in summer. On these days, if you know what is good for you – you will wrangle, manoeuvre, trick, lure, manipulate – I would possibly resort to hypnosis if necessary – just to get yourself a bit closer to the Bay, put your toe in. And sigh – relief.
We all sat there – too hot to move, sweltering under air con – if you were lucky or rather your luck held out till the electrical surge shorted the air con unit and cut off your life line to cool. At this point, just like the rest of us – you had to cope with either a fan blowing hot air on you in manner of fan force oven or made a last stand with the hand held elegant fluttering variety.
But wait … there is the Weis Bar! Another invention that hails from the mystical in-between place called Toowoomba. I remember, might have mentioned this, being taken to the buffet at the Weiss restaurant. I recall, small being that I was, huge rooms, roaring fires, tables piled high with exotic food like crab claws. Love the olde crab claws. I went there with Clangers just before my Grandmother died, she lived in Toowoomba – only to discover the Weis Restaurant had rudely and incomprehensibly – shrunk.
I digress. The Weis Bar will save you on a hot day. My first memory of the Weis Bar was with my Father. I must have been about three, not four, maybe under three. It was a stinking hot Brisbane day. We lived in Toowong then, near what I referred to as the “Steam Roller Park”. Just before I arrived, Brisbane flooded, as happens in Australia. The power of the water dislodged a Steam Roller and deposited this piece of industrial achievement in what would become a children’s playground near to where my parents lived.
The Council decided against trying to move the thing. And instead painted it a striking shade of BLUE and bequeathed it to – the children. It was BLUEEE! You know, loud, you could hear it from way the hell and gone. I loved climbing all over this thing, and striving to push leavers and make it move. Much to my chagrin, it never did. Never was going to move, nor roll a road, nor emit steam or pollute the atmosphere – ever again. It was just going to be – Blue from here on. And so it was for a time.
On this particular sweltering day, my father returned home from work and I don’t recall the details but my mother, who struggled with various life issues periodically – shoved me out the front door towards my father and said, “Take her! Out! I want to be alone! I need a rest!” or this was more or less what was communicated to my Father.
So we went, he and I, from our home – my mother’s home, his home – the house we all lived in, in Toowong. In the Toyota, industrial idol though it is, it was also my Father’s last link to the land. We could have walked to the park on my short legs, but – the heat hummed in a way that drums your brain creating feelings of “can’t”. The engine roared intrusively and unnecessarily on the roads rolled by the Steam Roller, stuck now in the park for children – defeated ultimately by the flimsiest of formidable adversaries – water.
Just before we arrived at the park, my Father pulled over to the side of the curb and said abruptly, “Wait here! Don’t touch anything.” Gets out. Returns with a suspicious looking parcel wrapped in newspaper.
I said, “What’s that?” He said, “Shhhhh! Be patient!” I, as directed to “Shhhhh!” in that tone people accustomed to managing livestock and small children have, concluded there was no alternative but to “Shhhhh!” It resonances with purpose and invites neither opposition nor response. I capitulated. Accepting I would get nowhere. But my father’s commanding tone did nothing to quell the insatiable curiosity that raged within about just what lay inside that newspaper parcel.
Being small and having a correspondingly small brain, I quickly forgot as that Blue Steam Roller came into view. I cannot explain the excitement I felt about this Steam Roller. Delight began jumping somewhere in my tummy and it inspired me to begin bouncing on those sticky vinyl seats in Dad’s Toyota contributing to a sound not unlike velcro riping as my behind attempted to defy gravity and the separation between my small self and that Blue delight. But Dad said, “No, come over here and sit down”.
This sort of speech usually involved me being corrected about something that seemed to my mind – unnecessary. But then, I espied my father beginning to unwrap the parcel. I had temporarily forgotten about on account of being enchanted by that crazy colour ‘blue’. I surveyed the contours of my father’s face, decided in spite of available evidence that he was in fact – not angry with me.
He had sat down on the bench under the only available Eucalyptus tree, panting quietly in the still heat. No wind. None. Just air so heavy with water, you could wring it out and if you did, I am certain it would rain.
My father said again, “Come over here.” I did. I could see the parcel was cold and I wanted to touch the cold it was so hot. There, being rapidly removed from its cocoon of veiled newspaper was the loot – Weis Bars. So cold and delightful. There was the Tropical or Fruito – which looked deceptively pink and strewn with passionfruit seeds and ofcourse the Holy Grail – Mango! Ah Mango – makes summer bearable when the temperature directs the mind toward’s Dante’s Inferno.
I of course wanted the pink one but Dad said, interestingly, “We’ll give that to Mum, have the Mango.” I protested loudly, as far as I was concerned the world would be a much better place if everyone simply wore pink and painted the world pink. Pink was the pink as far as I was concerned. But Dad said, “You wont like it.”
There was a brief scuffle born of differences in height and years on this earth. It was resolved by Dad saying two poignant things. Firstly, “It’s hot, if you don’t hurry up – it will melt and there’ll be none left.” True. Secondly, “Try some of mine and see if you like it.” OK, thanks Dad.
So turned out the multitude of Toowong had the same idea as my Dad that hot day and there was only one Mango Weis Bar left in the freezer at the shop. Everyone had similarly bypassed the Tropical option. So Dad had bought two Tropical Weis Bars and the last Mango, which he gave – to me.
There is an art to eating the Weis Bar. You only ever get the craving when the heat is high so this has an effect on how quickly the ice cream melts. Also – it is a bar, no stick. The heat of your fingers melts the bottom half of the Weis Bar. I’ll let you work it out!
So that is my secret to getting though a heat wave – nab the last Mango Weis Bar! Enjoy.