Monday, July 11, 2011

Gum Chewing Etiquette

Every once in a while a reader sends me a note which I feel compelled to share with others. The following is such a note and deals with one of my pet peeves - gum chewing in public, specifically discarding of what I will affectionately refer to as "The used wad".

Dear E.G.,

You may have heard this from others by now, but I must have my say. Why is there a problem with discarding gum? Swallow it! I have been swallowing gum for 60 years. I have chewed real gum, plastic gum (current version),bubble gum, and spruce gum and it has never "stuck up my insides" as we were told. Unless you plan to continue chewing it later, you can swallow gum without fear of it "sticking up your insides". That doesn't happen. Don't believe me? Leave it in your mouth as you eat and note how quickly it disintegrates. If you plan to chew it later, the bedpost is the only place I would accept parking it. Thumbs down to using the handle of your cup, behind your ear, and the seat belt. Thanks for your opinion. P.H.

Dear P. H.

I definitely share your views as far as the discarding of gum in a public place. It is complete and utter laziness and disrespect of others that some gum chewers insist on sticking their used wad in the obvious secret places with great regularity. Most of us are likely guilty of sticking it under a table or chair or I suppose tossing it on the ground. This does not make it any less disgusting. I am not a big fan of chewing gum in public to begin with and whether you choose to swallow it as this reader suggests or simply place it in its wrapper (good reason to save that wrapper too) or other scrap of paper and pitching in a litter bin, the choice is yours. Putting it on your own bedpost is an option I hadn't thought of, but why not!? Thanks for bringing up this sticking point. E.G.

Having said how I feel on the subject, I am well aware of the many benefits of chewing gum. One is its aid as a digestif. Another is assisting people in clearing their ear drums when ascending or descending in an airplane. A third is to help relieve nervous tension. All three of these practical applications can be very private. One does not need to be walking down the street smacking gum and blowing bubbles. It's unacceptable behavior at any age. I have plenty of friends who use gum to help refresh their breath after a meal. I think that's great and can be accomplished in a minute or two quietly and privately.

If gum gets stuck in your hair, or the hair of your child's playmate during a sleepover, a pair of scissors is a quick fix and a remedy which will not soon be forgotten. I am told that lighter fluid or nail polish remover works wonders as well, especially when you are the lucky one to walk right on top of a nice fresh chunk which blended cleverly into the sidewalk where you happened to be walking. If anyone else has any thoughts on this subject, now is a good time to jump right in!

As to swallowing gum, I have never heard any horror stories, therefore I will go along with that approach as well. It reminds me of the story I was always told as a child about swallowing cherry pits. I was told a cherry tree would start to grow out my stomach if I swallow a pit. Imagine how long it took for me try that one on for size? Alas, no cherry tree. I am not a proponent of swallowing any foreign object, of which cherry pits would be one, but I do think that if you are in a jam, we can gulp down a bit of gum without any harm.

The act of chewing gum should remain a private activity. I know of no one who finds it a good look to either see or hear. If you find pleasure in blowing bubbles, find a pal and go off and have your bubble blowing contests in private. Yes, they are fun. We have all gone through that stage. Just watch out that the bubble doesn't burst all over your face and get into your hair. Your whole view of the joys of gum chewing could change in a heartbeat! When finished with gum, wrap it up and throw it away responsibly. You will even feel better than you can imagine with this simple act of sanitary respect.