I am 7. My cousin who will later share my name comes running out of his bathroom.
“There’s a gummy bear in my poo!”
I’m giddy with excitement. Checking for myself is understood. I peer into the toilet and, sure enough, lodged into a Bristol type 3 log is an intact green gummy bear, staring back at me with an air of having just been through quite a journey through a human digestive system to get to here. We discuss the improbability of the candy making it all the way through his digestive system and conclude that a metabolic miracle must have taken place. It is not mentioned again for several decades.
We return to a game we’d been playing earlier called “The Gates of Hell are Closing”, which is also one player’s only line of dialogue, repeated while his body acts like a timer as the other person searches for a football. When the fun of this is exhausted, I tell him I want to be a cartoonist, like Gary Larson. I show him a single-panel comic I created which, somewhere deep down, I knew I had seen in a Far Side book and hoped to pass it off as my own. I had never heard Fats Domino and did not understand the reference I was making.
I meet him at a bar when we’re both in our mid-twenties. We’d been hanging out regularly since he moved to town for university.
“Ian, I need to tell you something.”
I have no idea what’s coming, but nothing would surprise me.
“You remember the gummy bear?”
Of course. How could I not?
“Well – ah, god – it didn’t really happen. I lodged it in myself, after the fact. I don’t know why, but I did it.”
I am entirely shocked. The longstanding deception is antithetical to his being, and now contemplating questions and inauthentic memories are flooding to the forefront. He’d guided me through some captivating experiences and I examine what else should be distrusted.
Then I consider what an actual gift his minor fabrication turned out to be. He didn’t come bounding out of the bathroom so many years ago to defraud me. He gave me a sense of wonder, of the impossible, that hasn’t waned to this day. All the while he’s been living with the guilt and burden of the truth for twenty years, somehow knowing how integral the falsehood was to me. He finally comes clean, knowing I can handle it now, with my core beliefs already solidified. When the original story is triggered and told, I will now omit the last section, because really, if you truly think about it, the gummy bear did in fact travel through his innards, into the toilet, and into our hearts.