Jase Jacobson: Gummies

I consider myself a connoisseur of gummies. They have always been my favorite, and I have always been opinionated. One could say that gummy candies have been a consistent presence in my life.

Two summers ago, I was at a bus stop eating candy from a bag. The bus was late by two hours and I found that nervously chugging gummies while reading Dostoyevsky or Hemingway helped me pretend to be calm. It was probably Dostoyevsky. Everyone I met that summer was reading Dostoyevsky. I hated it.

The nutritional facts of the bag were in German, but the bright numbers and letters on the cellophane indicated vitamins in the candy. That was enough for me. I had surrendered myself to finish the bag and to wallow through Dostoyevsky when a small woman approached me.

Her back was hunched, making her appear old, but her face was very young. She couldn’t have been older than 30. She had creamy dark skin and a nappy afro. When she smiled at me and held out her hands there was a gap between her front teeth. She was homeless and didn’t speak English. I got the message, though. She said something in French that sounded as if it might be a question, while glancing down at my bag of gummies.

I lurched out of my jelly reverie and smiled back, offering her a fistful of the little fruit-shaped snacks. She took them gratefully. “Merci! Merci!” She backed away with the awkward gait of a hunched spine. Her head remained upright though, natural despite being bent. She walked off in search of others like me, the weary and benign. I continued to eat candy and hate Dostoyevsky.

Two cops approached her. I had not seen them earlier, but they had evidently been watching us. They spoke German at her and pointed to me. They were probably telling her not to beg here, it was a big bus station and she gave a poor first impression of the city. Her face flew into anger. The transformation was swift, but it influenced everything in her manner. She dropped her head and extended her arms, the defensive position of a crustacean. Her head turned sideways and she leered up into the officer’s faces, speaking vehement French, gesticulating with her hands. I have no doubt that she called them pigs or something of that nature.

Other people watched turbidly from their bus-stop blues, but I was engrossed. I don’t know what the cops hoped to do about the gummies. As if to prevent herself from throwing the candies in their faces, the woman turned back to me and cast the gummies along the ground in my direction. “There! Are you happy now?” she seemed to say to the officers and scuttled off. They smiled in my direction, sheepishly, apologetically. “We’re sorry she’s crazy,” they seemed to say.

It was so pointless that it hurt. I cared very little for the gummies in that moment, but for what they could have been. A small gesture, something sweet I could provide which she was brazen enough to ask for. If the officers had approached me first I would have told them to let her keep the candy, because who the fuck takes candy from homeless people? She had already lost too much, her proud twisted body which she carried day in and out along the streets. No one ever asked me, though, and I never did anything. The gapped smile, the easy pride and the shuffle were immediately replaced with another angry street person. They ruined the gummies for her, and she threw them back.

The sweets lay at my feet until the bus arrived, some 30 minutes later.

Jase Jacobson ’19 is a double major in English and Music originally from Portland, Oregon. Two summers ago he traveled with a Theory-to-Practice Grant group to Northern Ireland to study The Troubles. Afterwards, he stayed in Europe to explore for another month and a half.

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