Thursday, April 2, 2015

Jooshy Fwoot

When I was a “liddle-LIDDLE kid” as we used to say in these yere parts, I loved chewing gum and was positively obsessed with bubble gum. It was around this time such newfangled wonders as Bubble Yum, Bubblicious, and Hubba Bubba were coming onto the market, displacing the wax-paper-and-comic delights of a brick of Bazooka, and well outdoing the old pink tablet in both flavor and bubble-blowability. Already a fan of the powerful FLAVO (*) of green apple anything, these gums were providing joyous opportunities even surpassing the uber-sugar taste of “bubble gum” flavor, and going for grape, strawberry, and (meh) watermelon FLAVOs.

Grape Bubble Yum, y’all. I about died and went to heaven, aged eight and knowing all the pleasure in the world.

And then I turned ten. And the Saga of my Teeth began.

At ten, I was almost as in love with my bicycle as with anything sugar-inclusive. My folks had bought me a REAL bike – a grown-up sized bike, a forest green, brand NEW bike, to replace the secondhand little girls’ bike I’d had as a liddle-LIDDLE kid, and I ran that thing around the block and through the subdivision, learning how to take corners at an angle, loving the giddy sense of letting go of handlebars and just FALLING, somehow safely and unscathed, down a hill, then steering as long as I could still without my hands.

There were times this worked out less than perfectly.

Face down in a landlocked bar of wet sand, lip perforated by my teeth and some tarry-tasting road salad, I still remember sitting in my neighbor’s driveway and unfettered-SCREAMING for “help” after I went down.

I remember the dentist telling us our options for the mess left in my mouth, too, which included this totally brand-new and space-aged thing called bonding.

I prefer not to remember, but do have photographic testimony to, just how poorly sculpted my first set of replacement teeth were. Eesh.

I can still practically FEEL the astonishing sensitivity of exposed nerves, and the effect of this accident had on my eating and drinking habits for years. Suddenly, I wonder whether my inability to ever develop a coffee habit stems from the heat of the drink … but, knowing me, it’s probably just the essential laziness I have always had in the addiction (or behaving like an adult) department. I never could get the hang of coffee, or beer, or cigarettes, or even the evening news.

And then, four years later. Braces.

And I became this strange creature … who couldn’t abide ICE CREAM for like fifteen years, and to this day no longer chews gum. (Much as with coffee and alcoholism, I don’t have the attention span for it.)

So, today, when a goody basket full of treats came my way, it may be somewhat odd that I chose the gum, out of a plethora of cookies and candies and silly desk toys and, I think, a scented candle.

But the gum I chose was Juicy Fruit.

Juicy Fruit was my dad’s gum. It’s kind of an ur-gum – been around since the dinosaurs, has that certain scent that takes a lot of us back, comes in stick form, not giant-gob cushions. Still even wrapped in paper, of all things. And that perfume – for me, the scent of Juicy Fruit is like the scent of Jergens reminding me of my grammaw, or Old Spice slamming me right back to 1983 and the first boy I ever kissed.

Taking it for a little spin, the flavor seems to me somewhat different – a bit more “particular” than the straight up sugar FLAVO I remember it having. But it settles fairly quickly into something close to the old taste. Fascinatingly, I found that for some reason taking a sip of water placed the taste pretty firmly back into what I remembered.

The major changes appear to be font and color. The gum itself is no longer a buff-leaning greyish, undyed lump, but the very specific yellow usually reserved for banana FLAVO candy. Perhaps this influenced my taste buds, perhaps I’m just confabulating, perhaps this is all irrelevancy (just like the rest of this blog!).

I’m trying to imagine my dad chewing yellow gum, and it seems really funny to me. But then, he was not a bubble-blower, and in our house, growing up, “SMACKING” gum was verboten by mom (to whom the same rule neve has applied!), so it’s not like we would have seen. But he would have *known* …


Scent of a man, and a dad at that. Sometimes, English Leather, against the smoothest cheek in history of the world, freshly shaved and giving goodbye kisses. Sometimes, good honest sweat and motor oil or sawdust.

Sometimes, Juicy Fruit (which is pronounced as spelled in the title above, when rendered by liddle-LIDDLE kids endowed with mouths full of it).

(*FLAVO is that curious stuff peculiar to 20th century food innovation, consisting usually of industrially-produced colored salt powders or extruded sugar syrups intended to evoke every kind of unwholesome yumminess from fake-assed-cherry (the very nastiest of FLAVOs, though inexplicably popular) to nacho to strawberry or ranch or the aformentioned banana … which is not the *scent* of another man of the family, but is his favorite of the extruded options.)

1 comment:

Mo said...

mmmmm....fake banana