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Billy's Colossal Bubble

From the time Billy got his first baby teeth, he loved to chew. Anything and everything he could get his hands on went in his mouth, in order to test its degree of pleasure and chewability. Soon, Billy discovered a substance that brought great joy to his very existence and furthered his chewing cause: gum.

Billy loved to exercise his jaw muscles, and with chewing gum he found a commodity that would allow him to chew continuously the same specimen for hours on end. This greatly pleased Billy, and he began sampling the many different brands of gum to see which one best suited his tastes and desires. He tried Juicy Fruit, Big Red, Bazooka, Wrigley's Spearmint, Peppermint, Doublemint, Bubble Yum, Bubbalicious, Hubba Bubba, those dry, hard sticks you get in baseball card packs, Chiclets, Fruit Stripe, MintaBurst, CinnaBurst, the little gumballs from the local Lions Club machines—everything under the sun was given a tryout, and still nothing was found to completely satisfy Billy's strict and rigorous chewing standards.

Then one day at the local Walgreen's, Billy had a coup de grâce (remarkable though it was for someone of his young age). He discovered that which he had been seeking for lo those many weeks: Bubble Blast™! Its unique combination of various natural resins, latexes, sweeteners, softeners and flavorings enabled it to meet all of young Billy's taste and chewability requirements. He bought several pouches that day, for he needed to try its many different flavors. Grape quickly became his favorite, and from that day, Billy's life changed forever.

Billy soon tired of the simple repetitive chewing motions required by his gum, and his youthful exuberance and adventurousness led to more risky and uncharted territory. He started by pulling on his gum and wrapping it around his finger, stretching it to its limit and then snapping as it grew too thin. He tried those annoying popping noises by making little air bubbles in his mouth. But it all seemed so mundane. He needed excitement. He wanted to live on the edge. So he set about learning how to blow real bubbles—the external kind. After much experimentation, he finally calculated the correct amount of tongue pressure and lip pursing that would allow him to succeed in his quest for the perfect bubble. Now life was even more exciting for young Billy.

The creation of bubbles—glorious bubbles—became his life. He chewed gum incessantly. His every waking moment was occupied by blowing bubbles. Even as he slept, his mouth worked in its graceful, fluid motion, always seeking to form the perfect bubble. He would often awake in a cold sweat, sit bolt upright in bed, and reach for his ever present pack of Bubble Blast™, to calm him from his nightmares of distant, backwards lands without gum. Each day, it seemed, he grew closer and closer to the largest, most perfect bubble the world had ever seen. His obsession caused him to stuff more and more gum into his ever-growing maw, until he was consuming three packs of Bubble Blast™ at a time. The bubbles he was creating were extraordinary, radiant in their geometry and fragrant as a field of lilacs. But still he felt like he was missing something. Each time his bubble neared its zenith, it would pop, causing Billy great frustration (as well as not a little stickiness on the face and hair!)

Something had to be done, he knew, about the ever-weakening elasticity of his bubbles as they grew in their enormity. He would never achieve the world's largest, most perfect bubble without supplementing the gum with some kind of artificial reinforcing additive. After researching at his local library (and being told therein several times to keep the chewing volume down), he decided that he needed to augment his gum with the strongest rosin known to exist, jelutong. So he went home, opened up one of his father's gardening catalogs, and sent away to the deepest depths of the Amazon for his prized rosin. He would soon be able to give the world the greatest gift he could ever imagine—the largest chewing gum bubble in history!

After waiting the requisite amount of time for delivery, Billy finally received his package, and promptly began experimenting with the chemical makeup of the Bubble Blast™ plus jelutong. In a matter of hours, Billy was ready to try his new concoction. Heading out to the backyard, he grabbed a handful of his mixture, stuffed it in his mouth, and began to chew. He kept grabbing and stuffing until he was sure he had enough gum to attempt his feat, and then he began to blow. And at that moment, it was as if the whole world was standing still, watching Billy and awaiting the outcome of this most important, possibly world-changing, endeavor. The wind stopped. Birds ceased their song. Squirrels hunched in place. If Billy had glanced at his wristwatch, he would have noticed that it, too, had stopped. Everything was silent as Billy continued to blow. And blow he did. His bubble was now about the size of his head, and it was showing no signs of weakening. The jelutong was working! Billy was becoming more excited now, and paused a minute to suck in another lungful of air before continuing. But it was at this moment that Billy realized he had made a most grievous error: he had forgotten to tell anyone what he was doing. There was no one available to capture his feat on video, or even on a still camera. How would the world know? But he had gone too far to turn back now, he was certain of that. So he continued to blow, and the jelutong-reinforced bubble continued to grow, now as large as his torso. "This is incredible", Billy thought. "Even without a camera, surely someone will notice me and I will live forever in the annals of history as the boy who blew the biggest bubble. It is my destiny!"

As the bubble grew ever larger, Billy thought he noticed the slightest signs of it weakening around the apex. But he was drunk with famelust, and blew even harder. The bubble was now larger than his body, and he could feel his lung capacity waning. As he drew in his breath for one final blow, he felt a deep surge of pride and a certain sense of completeness. He was about to give the world the largest bubble in history, all for the love of chewing gum. No one had asked him to do it; he had been born both with the gift and the overwhelming need to share it.

Billy began his final exhalation and suddenly the bubble exploded with a violent "bang!". As the gum hurtled back toward him and covered his entire body in a sticky mass, his last thought was, "I did it!" As he drew his last breath there in his backyard, his body forever immortalized in a gooey latex sheath, he knew that there would never be another person on earth who would accomplish what he had died doing. And there would be no need for such a person. He closed his eyes for the last time and smiled. He had won!

Copyright © 1998, Jeff Priskorn. All rights reserved.

All product names in the story are registered trademarks of some big companies.

Many facts and figures for this tale were gleaned from