In honor of our upcoming thirty-second wedding anniversary I would like to hie back to a simpler time, a time when my husband and I realized we were outnumbered by the children, and we were forced to institute the following rule: the first one to run away had to take the crazy kids—all the crazy, gum chomping, kids. Good times.
When Sherwood and I were young we produced a lot of little kids, a lot of grubby, grimy little kids, who because of their love affair with dirt and grime required a ton of hosing off—also bathing. When these little kids took baths they sometimes chewed huge wads of bubble gum. I didn’t mind it kept them quiet. (For a while they tried to bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with them into the tub, but I put the hoodoo on that right away.)
In the early days and even though we had a lot of filthy children, we had only one bathroom. It had one bathtub. One fine evening, Sherwood decided to take a bath in our one and only bathtub, the very same tub our children had used earlier that evening.
From the bathroom I heard the haunting boom of my husband’s voice.
“Linda, get in here.” His voice was thick with some emotion I found hard to identify. It was repugnance.
Naked and dripping, he stood leaning against the sink, his arms braced against the porcelain, bent slightly forward at the waist. He was not smiling or winking.
“Look at this.” He pointed to his hairy damp butt. He added, “Is that what I think it is?”
Me, I’m a funny girl, I asked, “Is this a test of some kind?” I did not look.
“No, I mean it. Look at my butt.”
Unconvinced and without sympathy I refused.
“I’m not looking at your butt. You can’t make me.”
He pointed harder at his backside, completely devoid of any spirit of good-natured high jinx. There was more back and forth, denial and insistence and such, but I’ll spare you. I finally realized that this might be a serious situation causing real distress for my husband because he’d been standing there leaning against the sink, naked and pointing at himself for, well, longer than was good for either one of us.
I bent down. I looked.
Sure enough, there it was, a wad of Double Bubble chewing gum the size of a hamster’s head nestled in . . . ummm. . . well, just nestled.
I said, “Oops.”
He said, “Get it off.”
I asked, “How?”
It was a good question. I believe I missed the chapter in Home Economics dealing with “butt hair gum removal.”
I’d heard a rumor once—something club soda—stains or something, but I didn’t think club soda was going to apply in this case. I knew you could use ice to freeze gum and then chip it off of stuff, but chipping seemed the wrong sort of action to take. Pulling was right out. Shaving/cutting seemed promising, but it was going to be close work.
I can remember hoping that my hand was going to be steady enough, what with the laughing and all.
The real problem is that there just isn’t any kind of hotline for this. I blame the government.
Let me just report that the operation was a success, and I employed a combination of techniques.
To the children and now grand children I would like to say, “Let this be a lesson to you. Never chew gum in the bathtub. Chewing gum in the bathtub can make your fathers have to have their butts shaved. There are reasons for family rules. Rules are our friends, and YaYa doesn’t make this stuff up. She has experience. She’s lived.”
Linda (Steady Now) Zern