Sarah's parents allowed it in their house, and not just a few pieces, sometimes there were boxes. She was always very generous, offering me a piece, or two when I was visiting. Of course I would have to savor every bite before my dad came to pick me up, the delicious pink goo was not allowed in our house. How I envied Sarah and her cool parents, but then her mom did cut the orange in half horizontally, wrapping each piece in foil, she always had the very best lunch at school. Her mom was just a step up on my mom who sent me with a meal ticket for a hot lunch, this the same woman who forbid Bubble Yum in the house.
Once I forgot and I rode my bike home, mouth full to capacity with a well chewed wad of pink confection, and then I blew a bubble. It popped, all over me, in my hair, on my face. I stopped at Kristen's house, her very kind mom covered me from ear to ear with peanut butter and stripped me of the tell tale mess. The distinct peanut odor was difficult to explain.
It wasn't just Bubble Yum, all gum was forbidden. No Trident, no Double Mint, absolutely none of that really cool gum that squirted when you bit into it, none. When I was with my friends I tried it all, grape gum, hard ball gum, multi colored gum, nothing scared me, there was nothing I wouldn't try. My parents knew, but they often looked the other way, until the night I sneaked a piece right before bed, and then I fell asleep. The next morning was spent at Dad's barber, having my gum covered hair cut, and not in any sort of attractive way.
They enrolled me in the Patricia Stevens Charm School. Somehow my parents convinced my friend Amy to join me, perhaps a case of gum was offered, I have no idea. There we learned all the things one must know to be a proper young lady, how to sit with your knees together, when it's appropriate to use the pickle fork and, very important when growing up in Kansas City, how to introduce your teacher to the Queen of England. And then Miss Patricia Stevens delivered this bombshell: Ladies do not chew gum. Immediately I removed the book from the top of my head, stood without monitoring my knee distance, and headed for the door. I was captured and returned by two women wearing pearls.
Thirty years later I have yet to meet the Queen but this I know, gum is horrid, I hate it. At some point in it happened, I became that woman, the uncool mom. Instinctively I hold my hand under any mouth when I see the chomping, strangers on the bus look at me in an odd way but really, someone must stop them. Patricia Stevens isn't here, might as well be me.