We had a game we used to play in the car on the way home. There was always a packet of gummy sweets squished into the cup holder, the top gaping open so you could see the greens and yellows and oranges inside. Reds were a rarity, always the first to be snatched from the bag.
I’d take two sweets, passing one to mum in the driver’s seat and readying my own in my flattened palm. I thought she didn’t notice I always gave her the greens. After one, two, three we’d place the sweets on our tongues, close our mouths and let the challenge begin. Whoever made their sweet last the longest without chewing was the winner.
The key was to find a mindset somewhere between concentrating too hard and forgetting about it altogether. The former was nothing short of torture, the sweetness of hardened gummies quickly became liquid heaven on your tongue, jaws aching from lack of movement. Succumb to the latter however, and the automatic chew would render you a loser before you could stop yourself.
We’d tease and taunt each other, our words warped as they curled around the shrinking sweets. Every few minutes we’d compare progress, carefully extending our tongues, ever aware that this risked our precious cargo slipping onto our laps. A favourite song on the radio meant distorted singing and shrieking giggles, yet another test of our mental focus.
Maybe mum let me win, maybe she got bored of the concentration. Maybe it was because of where we’d been. Somehow my sweet always lasted longer, and our driving home game stuck to my memories like the gummy casualties would stick to our jeans.