I met her finger first (her cruel, cruel finger)
At Table 12 at Meadowbrook Middle School
It was a Friday.
I know it was a Friday because that was the day
We had our bubble blowing contests.
I was the best.
I was a connoisseur of bubbles.
I knew all the brands of gum,
Bubblelicious, Bubble Yum,
And my favorite, Dubble Bubble.
You never used any other types of gum,
I never chewed any other types of gum.
(except Big League Chew cause it came in a roll)
Never that stick thing in baseball card packs
Or spearmint or peppermint or anything like the adults chewed.
I didn’t care about my breath
Or trying not to smoke.
Gotta go for true bubble gum.
And I was so good, I knew exactly the right pressure to put on the gum.
If I stretched too far, I could feel it.
So when it was too thin and going to pop,
I knew to inhale at the perfect moment so
When it did, it just fizzled down instead.
And when I had it just right,
Just the perfect stretchiness, but also stable,
I could take the gum out of my mouth,
Wad between my thumb and forefinger,
And hold it up to be measured.
It was like art, a sculpture, free floating.
And if you think that was gross to pull the gum out of my mouth,
Remember, I was a 12 year old boy.
There were only two things that were gross–
School bathrooms and girls.
Well, on that Friday I was going for my record.
I wanted to get a 6 incher.
No one had reached that.
It was a perfect day.
No wind so when I took it out of my mouth it wouldn’t warp
In the breeze.
I had three pieces of Dubble Bubble (six times the gum),
It had already lost its flavor so that was perfect.
You needed to find that perfect place with gum
Between flavor and basically, cement.
That was when the bubbles formed the best.
I had done a couple of practice bubbles,
Just to check the elasticity.
I was ready.
A perfect bubble.
It felt strong.
And then just as I was reaching up to pull the wad
Out of my mouth, to get that measured,
In came her finger.
The finger of the devil.
And I wasn’t ready for it.
Couldn’t inhale. No fizzle.
When I imagine it now, again,
I see it like a slow motion film.
A perfect circle
Of course I saw none of this.
I just saw gum,
It covered me from ear to ear,
Forehead to chin.
I didn’t even see her walking away.
She didn’t laugh, she didn’t taunt.
Just walking by, thought I would burst your bubble.
Yea, I remember that Friday.
Now this is when the poem changes, right?
That finger became part of a hand I eventually held
And then kissed.
The finger was next to one I put a ring on
In an outdoor ceremony where there was no wind.
I still hate that woman.
In fact, my wife wanted to name our first daughter Isabel
And I said,
You can’t do that.
She will grow up to be called Izzy
And will burst the perfect bubble
Of twelve year old boys
Actually, I didn’t say that
Because I don’t want my wife to think I have issues.
I just said,
No, I don’t like how that sounds.
But I was thinking that, really strongly.
And Izzy loved being hated.
We never talked about it,
Frankly, we never really talked at all.
But even now,
Once a year,
I get a package in the mail
Of grape Dubble Bubble
With a sketch of a finger.