Gum in My Hair
By Jennifer Nielsen
2010 copyright; author retains all rights to the story. Please do not use story without author's permission.
I’ve got gum in my hair.
Yes, I know, I know, I KNOW the rules about chewing gum: No sharing with the dog. No using gum like tape. And keep it in my mouth.
I was keeping it in my mouth. Until I forgot the rule and tested whether I could stretch it all the way around my head.
In case you’re wondering, the answer is no. Gum only stretches around your head until it gets stuck in your hair.
When Mom gave me the gum today, she said, “If you take it out of your mouth, it’s no more gum for a month.”
A whole month? I’ll almost be halfway grown up by then. If I tell Mom about the gum in my hair, I can just forget about my childhood.
I try pulling the gum out. Guess what that does? It just pulls my hair.
Then I remember whenever I use play dough, Mom picks up the spilled pieces by stamping a bigger blob of play dough on top. Pulls it right up. So if my logic is correct, the best thing to pull that gum out of my hair is to stamp it out with more gum!
I put three sticks of gum in my mouth and chew them up really good. When the flavor is gone (about twelve seconds later), I take out the blob of gum and push it as hard as I can into the gum already stuck in my hair. Now all I have to do is pull the whole thing out and –
Okay, so guess what I just learned? Gum works different than play dough. Now I have a lot of gum stuck in my hair.
Luckily I’m a very good problem solver. And this is a very bad problem.
I remember once when Mom got a ring stuck on her finger. She used some butter to help it slide off. A ring is smaller than all this gum, so I need a lot of butter.
I take the whole butter cube sitting out on our counter. It still has some bread crumbs from Dad’s toast this morning, but I don’t think the crumbs will matter.
I squish and squeeze and squash that butter all over my hair. It’s really slimy and grimy and makes my hair really shiny and slippery.
So slippery that when I try to pull the gum out, my hand slips right off. I need something to make the gum easier to hold while I slide it off my hair.
My little brother is playing outside in the sandbox. Sand! It is literally the best idea ever! And I can just shake it off after I’m done. So I run outside and dunk my whole gummy, buttery head straight into the sand and roll it around until it’s covered.
My little brother does the same thing, even though he’s too young to chew gum responsibly, like me.
With my hair covered in sand, I can grab onto the gum without my hand slipping off, but there is so much sand sticking to the butter, my head feels like a beach! If this ever happens again, I’ve decided not to solve my problem with sand. In fact, I’ve decided not to solve this problem at all. When in doubt about your hair, put a hat on it.
With all the sand in my hair, my own hat doesn’t fit on my head anymore. But my dad’s big cowboy hat does. It’s hard to pull his big hat on, but as soon as it reaches the butter in my hair, it slides right down.
Great. Now the butter is working.
I think I look pretty good when I check myself in the mirror. But Mom might get suspicious about why I have Dad’s cowboy hat on.
If I was dressed like a cowboy the hat wouldn’t stand out so much. The only problem is that I quickly find out I can’t get my cowboy shirt over my head. I need to make clothes to wrap around my body.
Mom has a checkered tablecloth that looks just like a cowboy bandana. Perfect! I cut armholes into the tablecloth and pull it on like a button up shirt. Mom’s tablecloth doesn’t have buttons, so I just wrap it around myself and tie it with her dishtowel.
Cool! Now I’m disguised as a cowboy and nobody will suspect a thing about the gum.
There’s Mom now. She’s smiling. Wait! No, the smile is going, going, gone. That is definitely a frown.
She pulls off the tablecloth and stares at me through an armhole. I try to explain that she never actually told me that cutting her tablecloth was against the rules. It isn’t working. Her face is turning colors. The last time Mom’s face turned those colors, I had to do extra chores for a whole week.
She pries off Dad’s cowboy hat. I can see the inside covered in sandy butter. Mom stares at my head and I don’t know if she’s about to laugh or cry. I don’t think she knows either. She brushes at the sand in my hair, but it’s stuck in the butter. She picks up a buttery strand of hair to look at the gum.
Then she laughs. She laughs so hard she starts to cry. When she finishes laughing, Mom goes to get the scissors. The big ones.
Ten minutes later I am bald. The good news is there’s no more sand, butter, or gum in my hair.
The bad news is I don’t get gum for a month. That’s okay. I’m going to try something new where I can’t get in to trouble. Like finger painting!