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Friday, May 2, 2014

They Call Me Mister Cud


The man at the front of the bus has gum, a lot of it, and he’s not afraid to the show the world.

Such a display of strength!  Jaws working tirelessly, the bones in his face flex like he’s being paid by the chew, like chewing gum is his full time job.

My mother would pass out. 

My mother’s idea of gum was – and is – Juicy Fruit.  One whiff of that gum, to this day, and I’m sitting in a church pew, tiny white patent leather shoes jutting out before me.  My mother tears a stick of gum in two, gives one half to me, one half to my brother, and my pudgy pink fingers unwrap it, put it up to my nose, eyes closed, inhaling that first precious flood of Juicy Fruit-ness.

In five minutes, we will be spitting it back out into her outstretched hand.

“I won’t have you kids chewing like cows,” she’d say later.

But oh, how we wanted to chew like cows!  Like the sassy, defiant children we yearned to be, snapping our gum and boldly putting our hands on our hips.

“What are you, a Jet or a Shark?” my dad would say.  “Get that hand off your hip.”

“I think they’re looking for something to do, Paul,” my mother would intone darkly.

Something to do?  Oh, for cryin’ out loud, fellas!  I’m – I’m busy – I got places to go!  A clever, fleet-footed child would ankle it toward the screen door about this time or find herself faced with raking up the shag carpeting.  Sure, you can dance with the rake when your mom’s not looking, but it’s still indoor raking!

Raking.

Indoors.

Mo-om!

The jaws of the young man at the front of the bus are working, working.  Rather than sit, he stands, and I am free to stare until I can stare no longer.  His skin tone a dark red that implies high blood pressure and, possibly, gout in later years, he chews like a man with a grudge.

Meanwhile, at the back of the bus, I give up admiring the Mandibles of Death and turn to watch the early-morning world slide past my window.

And I think I smell Juicy Fruit.

26 comments:

vanilla said...

Juicy Fruit. In Church. Oh, My.
*gasp*

Should Fish More said...

Are you a shark or a jet....that's right up there with 'do you like the stones or the beatles', and 'are you a cat or a dog person'...your dad must have been a deeply philosophical man, much like myself.

jenny_o said...

Seeing as all the good is gone out of gum in the first five minutes of chewing anyhow, your mama was doing you a favour to retrieve it!

I've had to give up my gum-chewing ways. Sensitive teeth. Oooo momma, that was a hard habit to break.

Fun post, Pearl. Mandibles of Death :)

Glen Staples said...

quality - pure quality

Bazooka is the gum of memory lane for me - mainly for the cartoons in the wrapper - I can see me and my mate sat stuffing our mouths full, just so we could collect them!

raking?

Indoors?

insane

Daisy said...

Oh my. Well, at least he wasn't chewing bubble gum and blowing and popping bubbles on his face, I suppose. My Mom wouldn't even let us have Juicy Fruit in church. A lifesaver candy or a mint was OK, but she didn't want any chewing at all going on in church. :-)

Jinksy said...

Juicy Fruit was for wimps! Proper Peppermint ruled OK?! LOL

Geo. said...

High blood pressure? Grudge? Elementary, the man was chewing Nicorette.

Ray Denzel said...

Gum, one of lifes bygone pleasures

Steve said...

Juicy Fruit, that was the gum of youth. My youth.

Z said...

I wasn't allowed gum. Chewing gum was bad enough, but bobble gum - well, it wasn't until I had children of my own that I learned bubble gum.

Interestingly, I offered a piece of (xylitol, therefore good for the teeth) gum to my nine-year-old granddaughter the other day and she said 'mummy doesn't let us chew gum.' So England hasn't changed as much in 50 years as one might think.

Z said...

Bubble. Dammit, I'd not want you thinking that England calls it bobble gum.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Bet those teeth grind at night too... Me, no chewing with there being something nutritional to make the effort worth the making! YAM xx

Elephant's Child said...

And here was I think that Jazz owned the mandibles of death. I get an education and delight here - daily.

Joanne Noragon said...

I know we got gum, but not from our parents. Perhaps we stole it, or pried it from under desk tops.

Sioux said...

The real OMG is tearing the gum in half.

Pearl--do you remember Chiclets (not sure of the spelling)?

What a blast from the past.

Mari said...

Thanks for stopping at my blog!
Juicy Fruit - that brings back memories for me too, but we didn't get gum in church. We got to take 3 pink peppermints and we planned out when we'd eat them. :)
We used to get half a stick too.

NanaDiana said...

We had Black Jack gum when I was a kid- and it turned our teeth black and I was fond of forcing it over a tooth so it looked like I was missing a tooth- or two! Great memories, Pearl. xo Diana

Leenie B said...

Yup, good memories. I liked all kinds of chewing gum but Juicy Fruit was on the top of the list. When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way.

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

Oh I used to love juicy fruit

River said...

I remember Juicy Fruit, it was recommended to my mum as a tummy settler for car sickness, so I was given a packet every time we had to drive more than 5 minutes. loved the gum but got sick anyway.

Linda O'Connell said...

"Chews like a man with a grudge." what a line. Juicy Fruit as a kid, but Spearmint as a teen. Did you have Black Jack gum?

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Both Juicy Fruit and Wrigley's Spearmint gum remind me of my grandmother! Ah the memories. And I really miss Bazooka Joe's gum. I liked the little comics on them.

HermanTurnip said...

I remember, as a kid, seeing how much "gum by the foot" I could jamb into my maw and still effectively chew. The answer: 3.5 feet. The outcome: two cavities.

Slamdunk said...

Our youngest is the one we need to watch or he will stuff a wad of gum in his mouth. It amazes me how he can talk with all that inside--quite the miracle worker he is.

Jocelyn said...

My one small solace about you having to spit out the Juicy Fruit after only a few minutes: that stuff only keeps its flavor for three minutes anyhow.

And: what Sioux said about tearing the gum in half. Did we all have the same mother?

Pat Tillett said...

Good one Pearl! Ah, the sweet memories of our ute (you guess the movie).

I loved gum and it I had my pecking order of preference.

Juicy Fruit (of course)
Bazooka
Double Bubble