Charlotte Albrecht


The Gumdrop Incident

When I was little, my mom and I would walk together to the small local drug store, Ledham & Wissler. She would pick up my dad's prescription for the week and I would wander away from her, run to the front of the store, raise myself up, and peer at the row of jars sitting on the counter. They contained a rainbow of perfect gumdrops. These were no ordinary gumdrops, like the ones bought in plastic bags at Eckerd's— oh, no. These were gumdrops as big as my fist; pure sugar gel covered with pure sugar crystals. These were a child's fantasy gumdrops.

My mom would join me at the counter and ask if I wanted anything. She didn't have to ask. Before I'd even pointed towards the gumdrops, she'd already pointed towards them herself, requesting a few from the cashier. She would turn back towards me.

"What flavor do you want, sweetie?"

I'm sure the first few times my mom and I went through this routine, I'd actually deliberated about what color to choose. But after awhile, I knew right away which one. The white ones (which were really clear-ish) tasted like nothing but pure sweet and if you sucked on one long enough, you could draw it from your mouth, glistening and cleaned of sugar granules, and it would be see-through. I would hold it sticky in my hand and squint through it at the world around me. Though I'd pretend to think furiously when asked which flavor I'd like, there was never any other option.

"I want white!"

And so it went for the better part of my 2-year-old life. I'd get my beautiful crystal gumdrop and I'd walk home happy. Until one day, when my familiar world was turned upside down. Everything was going fine at first; We'd walked to the drugstore, my mom had bought her things, and when she asked me what color I wanted, I answered quickly. And then the cashier didn't reach for the scoop and pour my gumdrops into his paper bag.

"Sorry, hon," he said, looking down at me, "We don't have any."

"But I want the white ones." I was in denial. He shook his head and I panicked. Things were different. Change was not good in my little world. The white gumdrop wasn't just a weekly routine anymore, this was an integral part of my childhood. Everything had been perfect. If I let this change, then everything would go wrong. So I screamed:

"BUT I WANT THEM!" The rest was a blur of wailing, kicking, and biting. I saw the whole scene through my desperate tears. I knew I could never again face the Ledham or Wissler or whoever the old guy behind the counter was. I was embarrassed, but now determined to save my collapsing life. I needed that gumdrop and it didn't matter that I couldn't get it. I just had to try and save my last hope of a happy life.

Of course, I was dragged from the store and I didn't get my gumdrop. In fact, I didn't get a gumdrop for quite some time. The next day, I was made to face the cashier and apologize. He offered me a newly-stocked white gumdrop, but I wasn't allowed to take it.

To my surprise, life turned out okay without that crucial candy. Since then there've been many things I've desperately wanted. But I didn't get the dress, the princess costume, Mari Kart, or the digital camera. And each time my desire was denied, the disappointment lessened. I even survived the biggest depravation of my life; my happy family was wrecked before I'd finished second grade. All I wanted was for someone to magically fix my broken home. If dad would just move back, I thought, everything will be okay. But this time I was rational when I didn't get what I wished. My world will only collapse if I let it. It's still standing strong and divorce, no perfect white gumdrop can change that.