Have a Stick: An Ode to Chewing Gum

Ever damaged a chunk of gum? Broken its spirit, I imply. Chewed it for therefore lengthy, and with such absentminded, mechanical fury, that its molecular construction lastly collapses and it dissolves right into a form of traumatized putty in your mouth. I’ve carried out this solely as soon as in my life, after an evening of what we used to name “raving” (dance flooring, chemical compounds) in London, nevertheless it impressed me drastically.

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First I used to be impressed with myself, the up-all-night masticating lunatic. Then I started to consider the piece of gum. Its elasticity. Its resilience. How many hours of inconsiderate gnashing had it given me, earlier than I killed it with my energy jaws? Its tiny dowry of taste—spearmint? cinnamon?—was exhausted within the first 5 minutes; after that it was pure endurance, pure inside expertise, shifting and resisting, on and on till daybreak rose whitely and every little thing kind of fell to items.

Gum will not be precisely a handmaiden to the humanities—it’s not opium or Earl Grey—nevertheless it does improve focus. It helps you get on with issues. Maybe as a result of it feels nearly autonomic, like one thing our physique is taking good care of with out us, the act of chewing-for-the-sake-of-chewing smooths out nervousness and irrigates the mind. “Dad,” my son requested me final week, “do you think you have ADHD?” “No,” I mentioned, “but I am quite lazy.” If the selection is between two hours of rapturous flow-state composition and a forty third viewing of Scent of a Woman, I’ll decide the latter. So I would like my gum. It lets me know I’m working.

Of course, as soon as it’s served its objective, it’s relatively disgusting. Used gum, chewed gum. “What I do is me: for that I came,” wrote Gerard Manley Hopkins, an enormous fan of Trident Original Flavor. And gum’s grand refusal to give up its type, to be something however what it’s, turns into ultimately a little bit of an issue. How to eliminate it? Me, I wish to throw it from the window of a shifting car. Not actually a long-term answer.

Someone informed me in school that in the event you swallowed a chunk of gum it might wrap itself round your coronary heart. Amazing picture. So chew on, people. Those knobs of used gum—they’re tiny monuments to contemplation, actually. They memorialize passages of the thoughts. The ideas are flown, however the gum stays. Get some in your shoe, wrap it spherical your coronary heart, and consider me.

This article seems within the June 2022 print version.

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