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Friday, July 09, 2004


Jelly Babies

Autumn 1997, Boston -
Barb is leaning against the kitchen doorjam. Her shoulders are heaving, her face is purple and tears are running down her cheeks. Her husband, Roger, and their friend Brent look on with concern. She shakes her hands in an "I'm okay" fashion to allay their fears. Soon after, she recovers enough to merely laugh and then to talk, shows them the contents of the package I asked Brent to bring them, and tells the story.

When I learned that Brent was going to visit Barb and Rog I googled the phrase 'jelly babies' knowing that somewhere somebody had to have a product by that name - and I knew that Barb would be amused to have it sprung on her. What I found was a line of gummy bearish candies from the UK where it seems each piece of candy is a distinct character that the people eating them are supposed to know and care about (!?!?). I bought a package and wrapped it nicely.

1989-1995, outside of Boulder (repeatedly)
Me: (something stupid, evil or both)
Barb: "You jelly baby!", or "Stop being such a jelly baby", or "You're such a jelly baby"

Summer 1975, Charlotte -
I went out a few times with a very lovely and charming school teacher. We went to a party that was about 90% other school teachers. I had met her friend Ken before and he was there with a small group around him. Looked interesting. Was. Ken taught at the local Florence Crittenton home. This was a place for single mothers to get shelter and learn some basic skills. At this time most of the girls there were black teenagers from eastern North Carolina. The rural areas in that time and place were just about Third World in every regard. Among the classes Ken taught was one on reproductive stuff. Here's what had happened earlier that week. As class was finishing up Ken asked if there were any questions. A girl asked "Well, what about jelly babies?".
Ken - "What?"
girl - "Jelly babies, you know, jelly babies."
Ken - "You'll have to explain, I've never heard of a jelly baby."
girl (rolling eyes) - "Well, jelly babies happens when two fags be fuckin' on each other. The one on the receivin' end sometime gets a little baby grow up in the small of his back. It only get this big (fingers held apart) and then it die (spoken sadly) and he shit it out."
Ken - "Sorry girls, but that's impossible. It's an old wive's tale."
girl (triumphantly) - "You can't be tellin us they ain't no such thing as no jelly baby when I had to tell you about it in the first place."
With that the girl and her friends walked out of the room with pride and dignity, having shown up the pretentious honky for the ignorant fool that he was.

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