We always used to buy bubblegum from the ice cream man when he came around in summer. We weren’t interested in 99s and Mr Whippies and ice lollies – the sweets was where it was at, and bubblegum was the crème de la crème of ice cream man goodies.
There was this game we used to play where we’d all try and see how many pieces of gum we could chew at once. We’d hang about on the street corner chomping away like cows, chewing through the jaw ache until our mouths seized up and we had to admit defeat. I was the record-holder – twelve pieces of gum I did, once!
We all got a kick out of it – it was dangerous, according to our parents. Bubblegum’s a choking hazard, see, ‘specially when you’re shoving a handful of gumballs into your mouth at once. There was this rumour that went round about a kid that died from chewing on two many pieces of gum. This big, sticky mass of strawberry Hubba Bubba got stuck in his throat and none of his mates knew how to do the Heimlich manoeuvre and he turned all blue and his eyes bulged out and he pegged it.
Well, that kinda shit is fascinating to kids, right? It made our pastime all the more exciting. We wanted to live life on the edge and the bubblegum game was the perfect way for a bunch of 9-year-olds to get their daily dose of adrenaline. Our parents thought they could scare us sensible with this urban legend about some unfortunate, nameless kid, but all they did was push us on, lining the ice cream man’s pockets as we bought and chewed gum like our reputations depended on it. And it was all fun and games until I tried to beat my own record.
I became the urban legend then – the nameless kid that parents told their children about. And now I stand on the same street corner every day, chomping away on my bubblegum until I get lock jaw.
It was alright until all my mates grew up and stopped visiting me. I get a bit lonely these days. But nobody ever did beat my record. Silver linings.
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