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National Bubblegum Week

Author Shelley Fraser Mickle
Air Date 4/17/2000

National Bubblegum Week Transcript

This is National Bubblegum Week, and I have to admit bubblegum has gotten me into some of the deepest trouble I’ve ever been in in my life, and then, it has gotten me out. Specifically, I am talking about the year I was assigned to sing “The Tennessee Waltz” in the Spring Fling for the elementary school in the cotton town where I grew up.

There were nineteen children in my second grade, and any one of them could have sung “The Tennessee Waltz” better than I could. But Mrs. Merryweather, my teacher, chose me. I was shy and backward and skinny and plain. And she thought standing up and singing “The Tennessee Waltz” in front of a huge group of people would improve me.

Right away to calm my nerves and to keep my mouth from being dry, I loaded myself down with a honking wad of bubblegum. Meanwhile behind the curtain, Mrs. Merryweather was going into hyperthrust getting all nineteen of us lined up while almost everybody in the whole town was filing into the school auditorium. We could hear them out there plunking down in the seats.

But back behind the curtain, Tommy Dickens and Wayne Schuster were getting into a scuffle, and near the end of it, Tommy popped all the buttons off of Wayne’s shirt. I blew a bubble that covered practically my whole face, and then it popped, leaving pink sticky stuff all over my nose and most of my cheeks. Mrs. Merryweather sucked in her breath and ran to get ice cubes out of the Coke cooler in the gym. On the way back, she broke a heel on her shoe. It was now 30 seconds until show time.

Mrs. Merryweather hiphopped backstage, held a hand out in front of my face and said “spit it out” while rubbing ice all over the popped bubble on my face. When I deposited what was left of my gum into Mrs. Merryweather’s outstretched hand, she divided it into two, put one part on the bottom of her shoe and stuck the heel back on, then she used the other part to close up Wayne Schuster’s shirt.

By the time the curtain opened, we were standing there all in place, and I sang “The Tennessee Waltz” like it’d never been sung before.

In fact, I don’t think it’s ever been sung like that since.

Posted in Holidays, Stories