I grew up as a gum chewer. I learned to blow bubbles early. Through trial and error, I came to know that bubble gum is not created equally. I had my favorites and Bubble Tape reigned supreme.
As an adult, Bubble Tape reminds me of fresh pasta. It is coiled delicately and will break if twisted or handled too roughly. The roll is coated in a fine layer of powder; adult me tells me this is probably cornstarch, but child me knows this is fairy dust to be savored. Coiled up, it’s about the size of a hockey puck. Unfurled, you’re dealing with “Six feet of fun!” It smells like pink and sugar. Almost floral, but too manufactured. Cloyingly artificial. All of this bubble blowing potential is tidily housed in a Barbie pink case. When I was lucky enough to have Bubble Tape as a kid, I would ration it inch by inch. To chew it all at once seemed ridiculous and gluttonous, but holding that pink case always made me wonder. What if I chewed this all at once? What if?
At 24, I wasn’t sure when I would know the time was right to stuff six feet of bubble gum into my face. I waited for a sign, but there was no overt nostalgic omen to guide me to into bubble gum glory. Despite my fantasies, I never decided upon an approach. Should I unroll the tape and eat it bit by bit? Whole roll in the mouth at once? No. I chomped. I chewed. It was manageable at first and then it was too much.
My jaw ached before I packed the last third into my cheeks. I thought briefly of giving up. No one was around to witness this perversion of childhood nostalgia. I shoved in the remaining clump of gum anyway.
In my bathroom mirror it looked liked I just had my wisdom teeth pulled. Closing my mouth was physically uncomfortable so the gum hung lazily past my lips as if it were my own neon, malformed tongue. I had to admit defeat. The chewing was not sustainable. I could feel my teeth rotting. It didn't feel like a win, but I know I am my own champion.