Chew and Swallow

I was sitting across from her as my hand retracted the last lolly from the bag. Initially I paid her no mind. I was too busy concentrating on how my luck was currently holding with the assortment of confectionary I was eating.

I admit that I’d been exceedingly virtuous with this particular bag, but I’m a meticulous person. My guard is never down; especially with the last lolly of the bag. If the last lolly is not an acceptable flavour and you commit to crunching down on it, releasing the ghastly flavour onto your tongue, the whole experience is ruined. You might as well have not bought the bag in the first place.

What flavour is not acceptable to me, you ask?

Liquorice.

I’m glad that I’m particular with my methods of lolly-eating, because luck never holds out forever. As the true identity of the lolly was revealed, I triumphantly congratulated myself, peering at the gelatine orb that might have ruined an otherwise reasonable day.

Smiling, I began to place it back into the bag, to the cage from whence it came.

This is when the lady holding a magazine sitting across from me cleared her throat.

Loudly.

I halted my actions and glanced at her, expecting it to be nothing more than reflex action.

Her hazel eyes had settled on me.

Strange.

Not friendly eyes, either. Her fixated look told me that I had or was in the process of doing something diagreeable to her.

My eyes flicked down. I was pretty sure my fly was still done up. I know I’d brushed my hair this morning, and my halitosis was under control from the lollies I’d been eating, so I reasoned that it couldn’t be my general appearance that was off putting.

I looked back at her, meeting her gaze with a cool look. I blinked once, trying to communicate to this young black lady that she should take her problem with me and shove-

Shit.

Surely not?

Her gaze had shifted to the lolly itself. Not a longing gaze, I’m sure of it. She looked back at me, her face now flooding with contempt and utter disgust.

Before you ask, no. Disliking the taste of liquorice, and by association, black lollies, does not make you a backwards racist twat.

Obviously this fiery lady in front of me hadn’t received the memo.

Now, much to my annoyance, I found myself at a moral and taste crossroad.

Do I eat the black lolly and therefore prove that I am decidedly not a racist and suffer the consequences of ruining my eating experience, or do I place it back in the bag and become a racist (in her eyes), thus saving my tastebuds?

My gaze wavered. I licked my lips.

How far was I willing to go to prove that I liked people of all skin tones?

The lolly stared straight back at me, the flickering light of the train bringing it in and out of existence so quickly I barely had time to acknowledge it winking at me.

I swallowed, nervously. She will had me right in her steely gaze.

I felt a sudden rush of anger at the situation I found myself railing against.

You know what? If she wants me to eat it, I’ll damn well eat it. Not only that, I’ll stare her down without a flicker of disgust cross my face, I thought.

I quickly exhaled, sucked some air back and popped the lolly in. Closing the hatch of my mouth, I bit the the lolly and the proverbial bullet.

My mind instantly recoiled at the taste. I don’t understand people that like liquorice. I can only imagine that there is a strange niche of society; the kind of people that ate their vegetables as children without complaint, that keep this disgusting confectionary alive.

I chew. I chew. I chew some more. My whole body begs of me to spit it out, into the face of this oppressor in front of me.

I lock my eyes with hers.

Chew.

I smother all of my screaming tastebuds, suffocating them into nothingness.

Chew.

Her gaze wavered. I smile subtly, knowing that my torment was almost over.

Chew.

At last the gelatinous substance in my mouth broke down into a manageable, digestible chunk.

The train stops.

I swallow and stare her down triumphantly, my task complete.

I am not a racist.

My past oppressor, once such an intimidating sight, retires her eyes back to her magazine.

I am victorious.

Out of the window, I spy the sign scripted with the name of the station we had arrived at.

Inwardly I swore.

I had ten stops left until I could rid my mouth of this disgusting liquorice taste.

Depressingly, I switch the labels in my mind.

I am morally victorious.

The worst type, I think, as the train pulls us away.


Matt Querzoli was inspired to write this from his experiences at clubs around the world. Follow his writing or his letters to strangers blog if you liked the post, or even the bloke himself if you were weak at the knees from looking at his profile picture.

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