Monday, October 25, 2010

The Gum Drawer

Ok here’s a weird thing that rolled through my mind the other day: gum-- specifically: “The Gum Drawer”.

When I was a kid, my mom kept Carefree gum variety packs in the top right-hand drawer of her dry sink. The kitchen of our house at the time had a perfect wall for this interesting piece of furniture. I am not sure of the exact history of it, but I think my parents picked it up second hand somewhere. My dad made cupboard doors for the bottom half and replaced all the knobs so it looked finished, though rustic, and perfect for our kitchen in the house my mom referred to as her “dream house”.

The dry sink drawers were always full of interesting things, stamps, nail clippers, change purses, a deck or two of cards, paper clips, the good scissors and other small items we couldn’t keep in other places. The sink part held decorative tins labeled with coffee, flour, sugar, and tea and the only one that ever held what it said it did was the tea (now almost 30 years later it still does). Most of the drawers mom kept us out of, she kept her personal stuff there. But the gum drawer was up for grabs! We could go in there and grab a piece of gum almost whenever we wanted. If my brother and were whining before dinner, we could have a slice of gum! If we were in the mood for something sweet, or just to chew, the drawer was there for us. My favorite flavor was always the cinnamon, and naturally that flavor was the first to go. There were times when we would sneak an extra slice and take two instead of one, feeling so rebellious at the time! I probably crammed more than two in my mouth on one or two occasions to be honest. The freedom of that drawer was important; it represented a crucial step in growing up. We could make our own choices and could help ourselves without adult help and sometimes without permission. I remember sharing gum with friends over to play and feeling a sense of pride in having a drawer especially reserved for gum. There was also a sense of responsibility, we were encouraged to report to mom when the gum drawer needed replenishing, she’d get annoyed if we ever let it go dry without letting her know, evidence that she, too, enjoyed this satisfying drawer. I can’t remember when the drawer stopped being “The Gum Drawer”, but it may have been when Andy and I were grown and my parents moved to the house where my dad still lives. The dry sink is there, right next to the kitchen, no longer a perfect spot actually IN the kitchen for it. Some of the drawers still hold what they used to: cards, notebooks, the good scissors, but The Gum Drawer, alas, only contains a crochet hook, a roll of stamps, and other odds and ends--no gum. The dry sink now serves the next generation of children, holding crayons, games, books and hiding away craft projects in progress. But I will always refer to the top right-hand drawer as The Gum Drawer, I think there are times, when looking for a stamp; I still get a whiff of carefree sugarless gum.