You think about things when it’s high noon and August, and you’re on your hands and knees in a small, hot laundry room with your head in the dryer.

What got me here was sticky. Gum to be exact. And it seems our family was learning what I thought was a given, the basics of gum protocol 101.

1. Always throw gum in the trash.
2. Once in the mouth, gum stays in the mouth until finished.
3. Never put gum packs in clothing pockets.

In this particular instance, it seems that eight year old Jeb forgot #3 and as I scrubbed the bright pink goo from the dryer’s interior, I realized I’d skipped laundry protocol #1: check pockets.

Jeb would have been the one with his head in the dryer, cleaning, if it weren’t for the fact that he was asleep. Taking a much-needed nap after falling ill at weekend’s end. Seems to me he’d partied just a little too hard in our end-of-summer hurrah. Three late nights, a camp out, and plenty of sugar treats – gum included. It all culminated to a sore throat, no appetite and little energy. I was glad he was resting (school tomorrow, “sick” or not) as I found myself seeking meaning in my little gum-gooed dryer world.

Flashes came. Like how only a day ago, the Bohemian had stepped out of the car in the parking lot, right on to someone’s thick, discarded gum. The warm, green piece making stringy cling to the bottom of his flip-flop.

Jeb and I made the collective “Ugh!” While I took the opportunity for a parental reminder.

“See why it’s important to always throw your gum away?”

And later that night we tried s’mores around the campfire. Except that the marshmallows we had packed warmed to the point of cream in the car ride. The Bohemian and I attempted to cut chunks and roll them onto the roasting sticks. Eager hands moved toward me for graham crackers and chocolate and I somehow got distracted holding one marshmallow stick in my hand. Within seconds I realized I’d dipped the stick just low enough to land on the bent head of the Bohemian, tangling the marshmallow in his hair.

“Oh, no!”

Ever patient, he waited for me to work the blob from his hair, but even once it was detached, a thick piece of white, sugar stickiness glowed on his crown in the firelight.

“You’re going to have to eat that out of his hair, Jess,” a friend laughed.

Absurd at first consideration, it became the most practical, given our location, far from running water in the night. Besides, I guess I felt it was my penance for the oversight. So, yes, I did take a big swig of water and douse the ends of his hair, dissolving – and eating – the marshmallow out.

“See that, Jeb?” my friend chimes in. “Now that’s true love.”

So, there in the dryer, still soft-scrubbing the Pollack-inspired smattering of gum, these thoughts of the sticky theme came to my mind. In these moments, one searches for some meaning to go with aching biceps and beads of sweat.

No real major revelations came. Except that sometimes things get sticky. Try to follow the basic protocols to avoid getting stuck (i.e.: store gum appropriately, check pockets before laundering, travel only short distances with marshmallows in Hawaii, and watch where you let your s’more stick fall). Breathing generally helps, too.

And of course, if you’re the one that gummed it up, make it right. (So Jeb got out of that one, but he is now on gum hiatus for a spell).

In the end, doesn’t it just feel really good to get unstuck? In our little world, the Bohemian’s shoe is clean. His head, marshmallow-free. And that dryer…it’s cleaner than ever.

courtesy of mahalie

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