Thursday, August 21, 2008

Snake Bites

Winston had an inclination towards Snake Bites.

No, not the act of being bitten (stung, sucked, plowed, ie. orally demolished) by the ruthless beast kicked out of that sanctimonious garden they called Eden, but similar in side effects by traditional observational means. This was actually gum for adults aimed at children; morally innapropriate like cigarettes for senior citizens marketed towards toddlers (point of reference: Kool is not cool), or tight hot pants aimed at overweight transgenders (see: women should not have a bulge in their tights in your corporate handbook). This product was a highly caffeinated, performance enhancing, sugary taffy-like gum called "Snake Bite," and it tasted sort of like cherry pie with a currently undiscovered periodic element injected into its core. "A temptation for your mouth," the corporate entity would advertise. Yes it did induce the fear, shock, and the eventual high that any normal masochist with a flair for too much black and an obsession with sleeping in the ground may experience from an actual snake bite, but this was also a veritable fruit explosion; thus appropriately named "Snake Bite."

These were individually wrapped candies with colors and designs that shouted louder than your uncles golf pants, "INGEST ME." The commercials went something like "Tired of living below? Get to the top with a bite of that Snake!" (what does that even mean) or "Can't stay up to cram for that test, Bite the Snake and stay awake" or even "Heart hurts? Make it EXPLODE with a Snake Bite." This was creative advertising with irony.

"That's the only way to get the kids into it these days; it's code these kids understand code, you tell them sex= babies= responsibility, they think I need to buy a cherry slushy and a new cell phone." Winston's father was aware of all this, and he would make these claims in every board meeting he spearheaded. He knew how to sell to children, he was a child, he had a child, he was even a registered sex offender for a couple years but gave it up for lent when the neighbors started to frown (can’t beat the first hand research). These campaigns were his babies, his snake eggs waiting to hatch and feed. Cherry and some strange metal were just the beginning; he had ideas for Grape injected with a low dose of speed, Orange with B-12 and Red Bull, Peach Cobbler with Echinacea and Zoloft, Blue Rasberry mixed with Viagra and flax seed (that one didn't really make much sense; deemed pending research contigent). There was literally a Snake Bite for every occasion and every mental or physical ailment.

Poppa Winston was aware of his impact on the youth of the 2000's lets call them "Generation Indecisive." He knew snake bites were an easy way of, A.) getting the consumer addicted and, B.) advertising a tasty snack that could prove "beneficial" to the illiterate and ignorant buyer; i.e. your average consumer. Poppa would take these juicy mineral injected delicacies in the most FDA unapproved of test states home and give them to the local children for observation. “Why charge the company for a test group of apes when we live amongst the most evolved animals one can find,” is what he used to claim. Snake Bites during the test stage were reserved for Johnny Phillips, and Suzie Crenshall, and even Gindi Mahresh when his father would let him leave the yard; but never Winston Caldwell. Winston was Poppa's son and regardless of how much he would beg, Pops would not let him try the bites in their experimental stage. Everyone else's son "not my son," he would unfairly explain.

Winston was nearly 7 that fall and he had a habit of bringing the FDA untested Snake Bites to school. They helped with popularity (he was "black market cool" perhaps?), that and he had an addiction comparable to a 65 yr. old chain smoker as a result of his fathers lack of research and discretion in passing these candies out in their test stages. He was partial to Blue Rasberry, though the 24 hour erections and extra hormones were honestly a wasted if not hurtful side effect on poor Winston's rapidly deteriorating health and body. An orange bite before school, a grape one before lunch, a cherry bite for the walk home, originally it was just something to keep his mouth busy. His teachers said he was a 'talker," not in a good way, if you're chewing you aren't talking he figured. Poppa had no idea how deep his son was into this kiddie smack, Pops was bringing products home in such excess to study the neighborhood children that he would never notice 3 bites a day missing.

No, it's appropriate to say Winston's father was fully clueless, after all only Cherry Snake Bites were street legal, so to speak, and Winston's father had only tried the product when it first reached the market. “You'd have to be crazy to snuff your own glue right, blow your own coke, inject your own black tar, chomp on your own Big Mac,” he’d reason. So Poppa was far from an addict and Winston, well, he didn't know what his father did for a living as far as Poppa was concerned.

The worry or threat really didn't build up at all, it hit like a crash test dummy into a GM test wall. Pops had a forced realization on a cold April morning that following spring when Winston's body was wheeled into the coroner's office, pockets full of Blue Raspberry Snake Bites, odd mounds forming breasts on his chest and an inappropriate bulge in his pants. Winston resembled a homeless circus clown more than he did a 7 and a half yr. old boy from the suburbs of Maryland. Children all around town began to come down with these strange side effects. First it was little Dan Dungall with a hyper activity disorder never before exhibited in his 12 years, then Jenny Gurtin with a propensity for licking all things made of plastic and a tick that put the word "Tourettes" to shame, and finally Robert Teelan whos heart actually exploded on the jungle gym one sunny Friday afternoon in May. Who was to blame, what was this horrible epidemic effecting the town? The only clue; each child held a different flavor of their choice of pure, hard, untested "Snake Bite" gum when the coroners wheeled their bodies in front of their teary-eyed parents. Snake Bites equalled "kiddie cancer," first a surpise disease or sickness, then months later a small plot next to Great Granny at St. Joseph's. That's when Pop's realized children are a most unfortunate of control groups, that's when he realized how to lie to the press, how to bury your son and deal with the guilt, how to say goodbye to your family because you are the corporate Anti-christ, and that's when Pops began to snuff his own glue, that's when Pops began to fill his pockets with "Snake Bite" gum, "A temptation for your mouth!!!."


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