MILK, Smokey, and I were riding in the back of the family car on the way home from a trip somewhere when we (the children) began to see signs for some kind of roadside attraction “JUST AHEAD!” and “WORLD FAMOUS” that we knew we couldn’t miss. These places spread like some kind of terrible malignant tumor beside necessary gas stations along freeways cutting across the middle of nowhere. Souvenirs, bad food, a fruit stand where you can buy the same produce in your grocery store at home for an old timey mark up, and a petting zoo consisting of a few super-fat, ambivalent goats who have to be flipped twice a day so that the kids don’t pet off all their goat fur on one side. We began to whine.
No parent I’ve met can stand up to the concentrated whining of three kids in a Volkswagen back seat while staring down the barrel of yet more hours of driving. They buckled like a belt.
We each got to pick out one treat from the oasis of sugar that was the massive candy store. MILK got one of those lollipops that look like a unicorn horn and are about a foot of pure sugar. I grabbed a bag of gummy cola bottles. Smokey couldn’t be talked out of the jawbreaker. Not just any jawbreaker mind you, but one the size of a racquetball. “Candy for Days!” the sign exclaimed. Challenge accepted.
All three of us kids were pretty quiet while we wired ourselves to the gills in the back seat. Milk was happily gnawing on her lollipop, I was trying to savor my gummy candy while at the same time defending them from dad, and smokey was working on his giant jawbreaker. He was holding it in a napkin while licking it because, as he’d been warned, it was already becoming a sticky, gross mess.
I looked over at him and said, “Man, you are NEVER going to be able to fit that thing in your mouth.”
“I’m almost there,” Smokey said.
“Bullshit,” I said.
“Watch.” Smokey then tested to see if he could get the whole ball of sugar in. To our mutual surprise, it fit into his mouth with a weird click sound as it passed his teeth. “Seeeeethhh, it fittts.” His smile immediately faltered. He looked a little concerned.
“Can you get it out?” I asked.
“Surrreeeeth I cun,” Smokey replied. Candy colored drool was beginning to leak out the corners of his mouth. He tried to spit it out. No dice. Then he tried to pull it out, also no dice. Smokey’s eyes began to take on a tinge of panic. Kind of like a steer that sees the branding iron.
MILK looked over at Smokey, then looked at me, then we did what concerned siblings the world over would do in such a situation. We cracked up and pointed at poor Smokey who looked totally miserable with the giant jaw breaker trapped in his mouth. It was a good thing he wasn’t congested at the time.
Our dad and step mom looked back at the mirth, any parent knows that laughter from the back seat is a problem most days. “Oh God, no” Smokey’s mom said. She twisted around and tried to grab the jawbreaker with two fingers and pull it out. It was stuck fast and too spit slippery to get a grip on. Smokey was being jerked back and forth by his head until his mom realized that it was not working.
“Can you breathe!?” she demanded. Smokey nodded miserably. “Well if you start not being able to breathe, just kick the back of my seat or something.” She sat back down and turned up the music.
MILK and I stared for a while, fascinated, and dad took advantage of the lull in my attention to snatch some more of my gummy bottles. Smokey just flipped us the bird.
For the rest of the three hour ride home there was nothing Smokey could do except try to lick the jawbreaker smaller and drink water from the absolute corner of his mouth.
Eventually, he was able to get it small enough to push it out with his tongue. The thing still lasted for days, kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until it mysteriously disappeared.