Timmy and Life's Confusions Like Sticky Candy and Loose Teeth and Teachers and Flapping Lips
Timmy wasn’t sure he liked Halloween. Cookies were good. And apples, if Mom sliced ‘em up for him. Cuz of his loose teeth. Two now. And his Mom wouldn’t let him have but only two pieces of candy. Which was okay. He didn’t like some of it anyway. Like camels. He liked their taste but they were too chewy and sticky. One might could pull out a loose tooth and him not know and swallow it, and then where did it went? Not only a lost dime, but then what? Where did it would went? His brother’d said it’d be okay, ‘cause it’d just go right through him. Timmy’d shuddered and shuddered at that. Wondered if that might could be like those spear-things in the King Arfur stories his father liked to read him. Ugh! Oh! Dear! But his mother’d said, no, it would just go right through him like poo does. Which was way way worse.
Timmy thought he’d never eat camels. Not ‘til he was old old. When he told that to his best friend Larry, Larry’d laughed and laughed and said so what’re you gonna do with the humps? And of course Timmy didn’t know a camel had a hump, he’d never seen any, and he couldn’t bear to think about what that might could do to him! But he wouldn’t ask, ‘cuz he did know kids his age could be silly-hard. And silly-mean
Later on he heard his brother telling his friends that their teacher Mrs. Simpson flapped her lips too much. Timmy’d met Mrs. Simpson after school one day when he and his mother were waiting for his brother. Mrs. Simpson’d come out first, so his Mom’d introduced Timmy. He thought she was really nice. He liked her and hoped he could be in her class some day. But when his brother said she flapped her lips, it was awful. It made him nervous to think someone might could did that. Why? And what exactly did they did and how did they did it? It couldn’t be right. Then he thought it might could be something like a limp. A thing that just happens to you. Which really scared him. So he thought a lot about flapping lips. And camels. And decided he’d ask Sasha, the Crossing Guard at his brother’s school. She was always there when he and his Mom went there to drop off or pick up his brother. -- His brother hadn’t liked it when he overheard Timmy tell Larry how every day he picked up his brother and dropped him. He and Larry were falling about laughing. Until his brother gave them both a dope slap. -- Timmy and his Mom always got to his brother’s school early so his Mom could go talk with the other mothers while Timmy ran around on the playground with the other little kids. But sometimes he talked to Sasha instead.
It’d started when he showed her a half-a-worm he rescued from a bird trying to pull it outta the ground. It was all funny and limp and broke-like. Sasha didn’t go ewww or yuck or eeeek and get all girly. She just took it from him very carefully and gave him back a tissue so he could wipe his fingers and then said a worm can get pulled apart and both parts still be fine. She showed him how to lay the worm-half back in the grass where she said it could wiggle its way right back down into the dirt and be fine as soon as it stopped being scared. He’d been really interested and she’d been really nice. Since then, sometimes they talked. Whenever they did she always scooched down so as to be at his level, which he really liked. And she was always helpful. Explaining things to him.
Oh, his Mom and his Dad did that too. Explained things. But they were awful busy. They both liked to do certain things in just so ways. Like how his Mom cooked and how she put food on the table. -- She was making his brother learn to clear the table now. He had to take all the things off it. The dishes and forks and stuff. And they all had to go in the sink just the right way. And then rinsed. Which was kinda like with his hair only his hair had to be clean before Mom would rinse it so it wasn’t the same ‘cuz the stuff in the sink was dirty and so it was all just more of that confusing grown up stuff so he’d just leave and go in the other room, where sometimes his Dad would play with him for a little while. -- Anyway, his Mom was always awful busy. She made all their clothes and beds neat and good-smelling. She always took him and his brother to the doctor and the barbershop. She took care of him and his brother if they got sick. His Dad, too. She polished all their good shoes. Timmy went with her whenever she had errands to run - but they didn’t run, they went in the car - and sometimes she’d say she just needed to get out for a while, which was when they’d ride around until she stopped at the place they got ice cream cones. Or sometimes she’d take them down to the pier and they’d walk way out over the water and eat popcorn. His Mom gives him his bath every night. Cleans his ears and teeth. Scrubs his nails and shampoos his hair. -- She’d only said oh Timmy in her tired-sad voice when he asked her how come it was okay to use poo on his head, so he’d just filed it under more things he didn’t understand about life. Which were a lot. -- His Dad worked most every day and anytime he wasn’t at work he had tasks to do. Timmy knows tasks. He has them too. Line up his shoes. Pick up his PJ’s. Flush when he gets done. Put toys back. His Dad’s tasks are harder and take longer so he’s a lot busier and doesn’t have loads of time for Timmy, alone. But he always gives him a piggyback up to bed and he always reads to him until light’s out. Sometimes he’ll race Timmy, which he always does it on his knees so Timmy always wins. Or sometimes they’ll toss a ball back and forth. Stuff like that. Questions aren’t Mom’s and Dad’s thing, his brother said one time. Timmy wanted to say, oh wow, what is their Thing? What did it looked like? And how come he and his brother had not never seed it? And where did they keeped it? But he knew not to ask. His brother would only muss his hair and call him dummy. And if he asked his Mom she would sigh and say something that’d mess him up more and if he asked his Dad he’d say his usual What!? What?! and kinda frown-smile but not say anything. So Timmy figured if he just mumbled, s’okay - f’get it, they would. Cuz they did anyway. He decided he’d ask Sasha about the camel thing and the flapping lips. Which he did next day at his brother’s school.
When she’d scooched down and was ready for his questions, even though he most wanted to know about the camel and swallowing his tooth, he started with the flapping lips instead. Sasha had smiled at him and put an arm around to tug him in close for a quick hug. Which made him feel all red and hot inside but smiley, too. Sasha has crinkles at the ends of her eyes which are kind of dark and shiny and has little spaces between her teeth. Timmy thinks she is beautiful. He scuffed his toes and shrugged a bit, but then she just hugged him closer for a second before sitting back on her heels to look straight at him as she started explaining. Flapping your lips, she told him, means that you’re talking and talking and talking so fast and for so long, your lips look like they flap. -- Timmy just looked at her. -- Like a baby bird, flapping its wings in a puddle, she said. And then she started talking, going faster and faster -- what his Mom called jabbering, which Timmy did sometimes, well, really, did a lot -- and at the same time she made her hands do open and close open and close, faster and faster, kind like flapping, and suddenly Timmy saw it. At first he frowned hard ‘cuz he didn’t think he should laugh at her but then he couldn’t help it and started giggling and giggling and then she was giggling too and then the two of them were laughing and they laughed and laughed until he had gripes in his tummy and she had tears running down her face. Then she just took his hand and squeezed it.
When she started to stand up, he grabbed at her and said but why did his brother said that about Mrs. Simpson? Sasha scooched back down. Boys!, is what she said. Then shrugged and threw up her hands. That’s the only reason, she said. Boys your brother’s age like to show off. They don’t think about the things they say. Because if they did they wouldn’t say them. Because they don’t mean them, Timmy, not really. They just aren’t thinking, they’re showing off. -- Then she asked if he understood and was studying his face so very hard he nodded back to show he knew what she meant. And he did, cuz after all, he lived with his brother. And a’sides, what she said made sense and even a’sides that, it made him realize he’d just been showing off when he’d said that to Larry about how he picked up his brother and dropped him every day. And Timmy was way less old than his brother.
Okay, he said. Thanks. But I gots’ta know something more. About camels. What are sweet and chewy and good, but did they got humps? An’ if I eat a camel, might could it pull my loose tooth out so’s I’d swallow it? What my Mom says it’d go right through me and might couldn’t that hurt me? And but when I gets old, shun’t I never ate a camel, even if my teeths good, ‘cause it’s gots a hump? And could might that hurt? ‘Cuz what are a hump? He was almost out of breath by the time he got to the end. Sasha stood up, pulling Timmy to her side as she did, saying sorry, but her legs were killing her -- then quickly asking did Timmy know what that meant and when he said he did ‘cuz his Mom always said her back was killing her but she didn’t gots dead, Sasha sighed and asked if they could sit on a bench for a bit. So Timmy took her hand, a little protectively, and led her to the nearest one. But please, he persisted when they both had gotten seated and after Sasha had waved long enough to Timmy’s Mom, who looking about for him, that she had smiled and waved back. Please, he said to Sasha, about the camel? And my tooth? And the hump?
But Sasha was trying not to laugh. He could see it and his own face screwed up so as to fight tears he knew would come. Because she found him silly. And she wasn’t going to answer him seriously he could tell. Well, he knew about the lips. That was good. He started to get down off the bench, but she caught him by his sleeve and asked are you talking about caramels? He swung back around. Camels, he said, and stuck out his chin. Candy? she asked. He nodded, a little unsurely. Okay, Sasha said. I can tell you about the candy you’re talking about. It’s called a car-a-mel, not a camel. It’s very sweet and very sticky and very chewy and could pull a boy’s loose tooth out easy. She looked at Timmy for his nod. Which he gave, even if a bit doubtfully. Now, Sasha went on, a camel is an animal that has four legs, is bigger than a horse and has a very large bump on its back - called a hump - which is okay ‘cause that’s just how camels are made. I can tell you more about them or I can tell you more about the candy which is not called camel but car-a-mel. Which do you want me to do first? she asked. Timmy was flooded with information and felt a vast relief at knowing what he’d thought was a camel really was some kind of something else and did not have a hump. Car-a-mels, he said very carefully. Sasha stared at him and asked did he mean he wanted to know what would happen to a boy who ate a car-a-mel and wasn’t careful or paying attention so if a loose tooth got pulled out by the candy, he might swallow it? Along with the car-a-mel? Timmy was nodding furiously. And where did it went then?, he asked. The tooth? Okay, Sasha said. And after that, we’ll get to camels and humps, okay? He nodded more certainly this time. He felt much calmer. He could live with whatever she told him.
So Sasha explained. A little boy’s loose tooth would be very small, she said, like a pea - at which Timmy made a face ‘cuz he didn’t like peas, they squashed their insides out, which looked pukey, a word he learned from his brother but didn’t say to Sasha ‘cuz his Dad had told his brother never to use that word again about Mom’s food - but he nodded to show he agreed and Sasha continued. So if a boy’s tooth is little like a pea, the car-a-mel candy - she looked at him again and he nodded again - could wrap itself around the tooth and together they would slide down the little boy’s throat and into his tummy, where the tummy workers would unwrap the tooth from the car-a-mel, rewrap it, and send it along with all of the food he ate that day to have all of its goodness taken out before all of it becomes poo. She looked at Timmy, and this time Timmy was not frowning or doubting, but wondering very hard if all the gum he’d swallowed was stuck in his insides or had come out as poo. Like the tooth. So he asked in a very low voice and she put a gentle hand on his head, saying, yes. All of it. It will all come out okay.
And then Timmy’s Mom was there, telling Timmy that his brother was in the car and didn’t he think he’d kept Sasha long enough because she had to go and be a crossing guard and they had to get home. But Sasha and his Mom talked grown-up talk for a minute, so Timmy kicked some leaves around and felt so happy he thought he might could fly until he remembered they never got to the camel and the hump. But it was too late. Sasha was walking away, looking back to wave at him, and his Mom had him by the hand and was walking him to the car, fast.
Timmy’s Dad took Timmy out for trick or treat that night because his brother was old enough to go with his friends and his Mom had to be at home for any trick or treaters that came to their house. Timmy wore a sheet, which he didn’t really understand because his Mom was real fussy about him letting his sheets drag on the floor so how come she let him wear a white sheet outside in the dark and the dirty streets? And he didn’t know what a ghost was ‘cuz his Mom and Dad had told his brother to shush when he started making faces and doing a low scary howling thing, but then his Mom showed him a picture of what she said Casper the friendly ghost. Who’s a cartoon, Dad had said, like in the funny papers, and Timmy had shrugged, ‘cuz yeah, he looked at the Sunday funny papers and he guessed Casper was something his Mom and Dad liked and that’s why he’s allowed to wear a sheet. But just then his Dad had grabbed his hand, snapped on his flashlight and told him to come on, treats were a-waiting and time was a-wasting -- which is the way his Dad talked sometimes.
The next morning, way early, even before their Mom and Dad were up, Timmy and his brother sorted their treats and Timmy gave his brother five car-a-mels in trade for two tootsie rolls, which his mother would say was okay because they had paper around them so they were clean. -- Oooo. Look out Timmy. Car-a-mels aren’t the only sweet chewy sticky candy that can pull out a little boy’s loose tooth!
-- Later, when his Mom and he were on their way back home after dropping his brother at school and after he’d waved a whole lot to Sasha who waved back every time, making Timmy all hot and happy, he began telling his Mom about all the trick or treat houses he and his Dad had went to and all the other kids and what they had weared - lots of sheets, he’d added - and then went on and on about how he and his Dad had gone all the way down the street and then all the way around the block, until finally his mother had reached over to put her hand on top of his and say, shhhhhhhh, Timmy, you’re jabbering, and he’d said, no Mom, I’m flapping my lips. And then got such a case of the giggles he’d ended up with hiccups and had to drink out of Mom’s water bottle to get them to stop.
He planned that he would talk to Sasha next seek about humps. And camels. But Sasha got there first, bringing him the next day a picture of a camel with its long bumpy nose sitting right on top of its big mouth and its big black eyes sitting way way back with lots of funny lashes on them and that huge thing on its back called a hump where it keeps water ‘cuz it lives in something called a dezert that hasn’t gots no water.
Sasha let him keep the picture and Timmy’s Mom let him put it up over his bed right next to his picture of a green caterpillar with gold spots, his new most favorite bug-thing. He would lie on his bed after he woke up, his head where his feet should be and his feet on his pillow, and gaze at the pictures and wonder what it would be like if he had all those legs and feely-things and lived in a dezert and had water in a hump and could ate car-a-mels because he didn’t had no teeth. Larry couldn’t laugh at that.