Do you remember navigating the realms of your earliest school years? You wore a little red backpack that you dangled on one shoulder - just to look cool - and maybe the highlight of your day was trading of your baggy of carrots for a cup of vanilla pudding.
And, more than likely, the underbelly of your desk had been covered with hard, crusty gum.
I had been late on the chewing gum craze. My parents had made sure that I did not end up addicted to the stuff; they also, rightfully so, watched over my teeth at a time where I didn't care what was causing my future cavities. Sometimes I watched with aching longing as my friends gnawed on gum. Other times, I was glad I didn't develop the bad habit of sneaking gum and chewing nosily during Algebra: you couldn't hide behind equations and the hum of the overhead projector.
I used to walk the outdoor halls of high school, stepping on gum spots without thinking much of them. They turned grey, much like we do when we're old and weather-beaten.
I never curled my hands on the corners of my desk, no matter how badly I wanted to find a more comfortable position for my hands. One must always avoid touching gum under the desk. Those, unlike the ones outside, might still be mushy.
ABC Gum stands for Already Been Chewed.
Kind of gross, right? But it has a name. And I think that's fascinating in and of itself. As a writer, I'm always searching for specific words; you lose power when you grab the power bar instead of the hardy apple. Vagueness is the enemy of writers; I like to image it as a faceless figure with a cloak of fog.
Anyway, my nostalgic memories wouldn't be complete without referencing how I learned about the ABC gum term. It wasn't from talking with friends or even something spilled from a teacher's lips. The term came into my life via the, oftentimes, vulgar cartoon show called Cow and Chicken.
Note: Although I tend to enjoy such lovely, delicate things like tea, lace, and soft teddy bears, I also have a crazy sense of humor. And was lovingly raised on cartoons - to which I owe the strange inner workings of my mind. So hopefully me referencing this show doesn't come as too much of a surprise, haha.
So yes, after watching this exact episode, I finally found out what ABC gum was. A long-winded education, isn't it? But the credit card lesson in the episode was pretty informative too :)
At certain times this coming semester, I'm sure I'll feel like the gum under the desk. But remembering the humor in it helps to soften and flop off the desk - and continue on into the wonderment that is winter vacation.