Bubblegum Tea
  Manahil Bandukwala

It’s like being a child, and someone on the swing next to you actually went to the corner store and bought a packet of chips and ten bubblegum sticks, and they’re now offering you a piece. You take it, of course, and amidst the chewing, names are exchanged, and it’s a race to see who can swing higher. They ask you if you want to compete to see who can blow the biggest bubble, but you don’t know how to blow bubbles with bubblegum.

It’s like that moment in fourth grade when that one kid in math class reaches into their backpack, hand curling around some object. Concealed in their fist, up to their mouth, not a thing but skin is seen. But let’s face it – we all know what it is. That small, sticky, magical tool that can make a child the most popular kid in the classroom. A smile will cross over their face as you beg and plead for just a small piece. Only after doing ten pages worth of math questions for them are your teeth finally granted the opportunity to chomp down on the softness.

It’s like the time you were flying to London (London, England, that is) when you were eleven. The seatbelt sign was on, you were breathing in the heavy plane air, and the world started to move. Slowly, at first, giving everyone the warning that they must start to prepare. They must take out the sticks of gum, and chew vigourously as the plane goes off to the runway, and up to the sky. You keep chewing long after the plane is above the clouds and everyone around you is sound asleep, until the airhostess around with food and you’re forced to spit it out.

It’s like the time when you were fifteen and carried around what all fifteen year olds carried around in their pockets. Breath spray and breath mints were too obvious. Gum was cool, and casual. Just pop a stick into your mouth and chew the mint into your breath, so when lips meet, you could give the false illusion of just having brushed your teeth. And the moment when gum slid from one mouth to the other? Even better.

It’s like the time you snuck out to a party at seventeen and had a few tequila shots straight from someone’s bottle. You don’t know him, but your best friend goes to the beach with him and going to the beach with someone automatically builds trust. Everything’s good while you’re there, but as the boy who gave you tequila drops both of you home, you realize that you reek of substances that you can’t legally consume. At least there’s a quick fix – that handy stick of gum you’re carrying in the pocket of the shorts you wear under your dress.

And when you’re eighteen and in university, and you’re too lazy to just hit up a Walmart and grab a pack of gum, one day, the friend you made by accident walks into your room with a cup of tea. She always has tea, and it’s always a pale green. This time, however, it’s the smell that hits you. Your first thought is that someone’s chewing gum, and the second is, why haven’t they offered it to me? And then you see the liquid, a brilliant pink, exuding bubblegum fumes. Day after day of smelling the wondrous vapour, you finally ask for your own cup of bubblegum tea.

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