Gum: Foul Chewy Substance From Hell

Articles | By on Jan 1st, 2004

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I always forget what “sneering” looks like until someone offers me a piece of gum. Then I still don’t know what it looks like, because there’s usually not a mirror around when the gum-offering takes place, but I know there’s a sneer planted on my face just the same. Because I sneer at gum. Sneer and mock. Mock and sneer. I like saying ‘mock.’ Mock mock mock.

Let’s lay the cards on the table. Gum has to be the stupidest thing ever invented. It makes absolutely no sense, but not in a funny, bizarre way. Gum is plain weird.

You’re probably saying now, “I bet you had braces when you were a kid, and your doctor told you that if you ate gum, your brackets will get stuck to the gum. And if you accidentally swallow the gum, the bracket will jaggedly work its way down your esophagus, shredding your intestines and make you bleed out your rectum. And since you were so young, you were traumatized and never chewed it again.”

Damn, you’re pretty astute. But that’s only half the story. See, I never liked gum. I had braces when I was nine years old. But I remember hating gum way before then.

I recall going into Royal Cards and buying a pack of Topps. There would be some pink strip in the packaging. A pink stick as hard as concrete, only not as edible. One didn’t chew baseball card gum. One took small bites out of it (chipping teeth in the process), hoping the gum shards wouldn’t cause internal bleeding. I found out many years later that you’re not supposed to actually attempt to chew the gum. Apparently it’s just there to keep the cards straight so they won’t bend, and at the very most, you only lick the white powder off the gum stick. Okay I’m just making that up. But they did stop putting the gum in there, although they charge ten times more now and it’s the same amount of cards.

We’ve all heard the song, “Bubble gum, in my hair. Sticky, sticky everywhere! It’s a mess, I confess. I just don’t know who put it there!” But never has life imitated art like that fateful night when I was six. I dimly recall my family owning one of those old-fashioned bubble gum dispensers. We also used to have a ping pong table and a pinball machine. Hey, we also had a pool table and a knock hockey set! What the hell happened to all our cool stuff?? Damn, we must’ve been millionaires back then. Or Sharper Image thieves. Well anyways, we had this big gumball machine. One day, in the middle of the night, I snuck out of bed and raided the gumballs, taking out all the reds which were the best ones. I shoved them all into my mouth and crawled back into bed. Boy did I have a surprise when I woke up! A huge red bubblegum bubble balloon, waiting for me on a glittery rainbow, ready to carry me to the stars! Oh wait a sec.. That’s an amanita muscaria flashback. (Sidenote: Always buy way more mushrooms from the grocers than you need. You never know when you’ll get lucky.)

I think the gum went into my hair, I dunno, I was a dumb kid. Anyway, then I got braces, and I swore off chewing gum. It was difficult; I didn’t like gum to begin with, but now I was a social outcast. Others were guffawing at their Bazooka Joe comics (that were sometimes written in Hebrew for some reason), then came Bonkers!, Big League Chew, and Hubba Bubba. All those kids thought they were so damn cool with their Hubba Bubba. “Hey look at the stupid epileptic kid that doesn’t have any HUBBA BUBBA!!!” Then they beat me up with their gum.

But let’s fast forward three years to the present. There’s this electronic drumset that I want, but it’s waaay expensive. But I figured that since I have both and work and night school, I spend big bucks on breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. I figure it comes to seven dollars a day, or $35 a week. Now, if I could put that money aside, in 147 weeks I’ll have my electronic drums. What’s this got to do with sneering at gum? Patience, reader. Don’t make me put down the…um.. smackdown.

So today I started this new budget. I got through work okay, but that’s because they have an open tea room filled with free breakfast buffets, lunch buffets, and 4 o’clock snack time (called High Tea by the Brits). So I’m not exactly Oliver Twist here. But night school is a different matter. I ingest my last cookie and fancy sandwich at 4 o’clock, and then have to fend off the rumblies in my tumbly until I get home from school. And then I eat eggs, because I have a million cheap, expired eggs. Don’t ask.

Anyway, there I was in Cognitive Psychology. The rumblies were getting louder, though it might have been just gas. In a last ditch effort at survival, I rummaged through my Jansport and pulled out this shrink-wrapped thingy they handed out for free to students outside my school. I ripped it open… Dial 10-10-811… I am pre-approved for VISA…. Get 10% back on text books… Discounts on crappy magazines…. what’s this? A bar of gum. Minty gum!

The sneer wanted to come, but I pushed it back. I knew it would only be minty for a minute, and then turn into that flubbery plastic gum taste. I knew my jaws would start hurting after a couple minutes. I knew I had nowhere to put the gum until the class was over, so I would have to chew it for 45 minutes. But like Scarlett in Wuthering Heights, I had to chew this gum because I WILL NEVER GO HUNGRY AGAIN!

So I chewed the stinking gum and it did nothing for me, but made me gassier because I was swallowing air from all that chewing. The moral of the story is that gum is stupid, and you have to be a blithering lunatic to like the stuff. I should take up smoking again so I never have to chew another piece for as long as I live.

From Issue #17