The Forbidden Juicyfruit

funny kid storiesI was at a bowling birthday party, a form of torture invented for parents of elementary school children, the first time I tried gum. My parents’ Leah-rearing strategy up to that point, as far as I can tell, was a jumble between physical sheltering, emotional sheltering, and white lies. I have a minor phobia of trampolines on the off chance that our neighbors did once have a son my age who died in a freak double-bounce accident.  Bits of semi-helpful advice such as, “Remember to shut your window! What if Santa thinks you’re awake and decides not to come?” are how I learned never to leave the window open while the heat was on during winter.

It was this jumbled six-year old who stared into the birthday goodie bag (Author’s Note, directed at Author’s friends: we are not too old for those.) My heart raced the way it hadn’t since ten minutes before when little Billy broke his streak of gutter balls with one precise drop on my foot. My mother’s back was turned, and I had a bag full of the forbidden Juicyfruit. All I knew about gum was that it was definitely Not Allowed. I had no idea that it was different from food.

The Juicyfruit wrapper is partially at fault for what came next. Yellow and red are my favorite colors. I wasn’t above having a red crayon for snack if my teacher was out of graham crackers. With my usual zest for eating, I put stick after stick of gum in my mouth. It was such an odd, new sensation, to chew and chew and never run out.

My mouth full and still waiting for the ball to diminish, I decided it was time to go home and tapped my mother on the shoulder, “Cahn I puh-lease try duh tramp-oh-leen?’”


**Leah Prinzivalli is a writer in Brooklyn. She still goes to birthday parties [hint]. Follow her on Twitter @leahprinz.