I am addicted to gum; the flavor, the texture, the smell. I especially like the ritual of unwrapping it. I have nearly been thrown out of a moving car by members of my own family for enjoying my gum too heartily, but I love it still. (You will notice there’s no mention of Violet Beauregard in my Willy Wonka post.) I chew so much gum that I can measure the rate of inflation by how much a three pack of gum costs. According to the latest numbers, we are all screwed.
One year in college, I gave up gum for Lent. Back then, I was a Trident girl. I liked all flavors of Trident. Giving it up was really hard. I ended up chewing blood blisters into the sides of my mouth. I finally understood what Jesus felt like in the desert without any food or water for 40 days. I would say the experiences are exactly parallel. When I finally started chewing again, the saccharine taste of Trident no longer worked for me. The magic was gone. But the love of the chew was still strong.
You might think that this sort of crazy, multiple pieces at once, TMJ inducing behavior comes from a trauma or years of halitosis or perhaps a cocaine habit that causes me to work my jaw continuously. But you’d be wrong. I had a pacifier until I was three, so I think I was just born this way. After that, I switched to Barbie feet, delicious in their rubberiness.
My mom was born the exact opposite way. She must have survived some sort of Great Gum Famine of the 1970’s because for my entire life, she would only mete out gum in half pieces and call it a 30 minute commitment. It became a running joke in our family to call out “That’s an hour commitment!” if you saw a fellow Panda beginning to enjoy a whole piece of delicious minty goodness.