Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ee Bah Gum!

I’m one of those mean moms! I do not allow my children to have chewing gum. It wasn’t really an issue for them in the UK but here in America, everyone seems to chew it. According to Wrigley’s, 50% of Americans chew gum; One in two people; Every other f**Ker you meet! The children now continually nag me on a daily basis for gum! I would put chewing gum in room 101. I think there is something deeply unpleasant about an adult constantly chewing gum. The older they are the more incongruous it seems. I used to chew chewing gum as a teenager but even then I bucked the trend and opted for Wrigley’s Spearmint rather than the more popular Juicy Fruit.  I chewed it until it lost its flavour (a whole 5 minutes) and then I disposed of it appropriately. I did not leave it on my bed post over night nor did I stick it under my school desk. I quickly grew out of it and have never chewed it since.
As a teacher I learned to despise chewing gum for many reasons. Kids would eat it purely because it wasn’t allowed. It took all my professionalism not to slap an offender who, after been asked to throw their chewing gum away, would open their horrid big gobs as wide as they could and waggle their tongue around and deny having any chewing gum whilst inviting me to check for myself. As irritating was the offender who would dramatically throw half of it away in the bin at the front of the classroom and then swagger back to their desks chewing the other half like I wouldn’t notice. When challenged they would do the whole tongue waggling thing. Look! Nothing there! Genius!
These would be same kids would bleat when they got stuck to some chewing gum someone (probably them) had left on the underside of the desk. I would have to dispatch them to the Science Department to have the offending gum removed. Apparently gum is now given to kids in American schools as a reward to aid concentration and improve exam performance. All those slobbery chops chomping gum in an exam room – the thought of it makes me feel sick!
Against my better judgement, I let my guard down over Christmas and allowed my children to eat some gum, but only under the close supervision of their older cousins. My son, unsupervised, came to me upset because something was wrong with his tummy. Horrified, I thought he may have swallowed some gum and it had wrapped around his epiglottis and would kill him. I blame my parents for such deep seated beliefs. My mother told me to never swallow! Upon inspection I discovered his brand new designer boxer shorts (so cute) were stuck to his stomach with green chewing gum. I tried putting his boxer shorts in the freezer to harden the gum so I could snap it off. This was really unhygienic as he had worn them all day and chewing gum wasn’t the only debris. Whilst everything else froze and dropped off, the gum stayed supple and wouldn’t budge. Along with some chocolate chip cookie ice cream which I could no longer guarantee was pure chocolate, I had to throw his boxers away. Perhaps it was a lucky escape. The tendency to wear jeans lower than boxers came from United States jails where jeans were worn below the butt as a sign to others that you were open for butt sex from other prisoners. In his desire to flash his designer underwear my son may have been misunderstood!
According to the ‘International Chewing Gum Association’ chewing gum provides a low calorie snack! I don’t think a stick of gum would fill me up and satisfy hunger. It’s known as ‘sham feeding’ – making your body think it is going to get something to eat. Cruel! Like never swallowing anything. That makes me feel more hungry. All that chewing and nothing actually lands in my stomach. As I hinted at, when I was little I was told that if I swallowed gum it would wrap around my wind pipe and I would die, or some shit like that. This isn’t true but swallowing chewing gum with other things that might stick to it can cause a blockage! You can not digest chewing gum,. The most that you can hope for, if swallowed is that you have a minty lump in your poo. It does however have some medicinal benefits, It can help with  gastroesphageal reflux disease (is that indigestion?!) by neutralising acid in the esophagus. On the down side it can also cause stomach ulcers by stimulating the stomach to secrete acid (in readiness for foods that never arrives!). One Brit over here in the states took her son to the doctors with earache. He prescribed chewing gum!
I really thought chewing gum was designed for kids to annoy adults. Not in America. It seems that here it is perfectly acceptable for adults in restaurants to take their chewing gum out and stick it on the table until they have consumed their $ menu and then resume chewing. It happens in the best of places – the white table linen places. Surely they cant be that crass? I was in denial when I was told something by a fellow Brit. I thought she was more extreme than me in her appraisal of Americans so I did a bit of research and what I discovered shocked me and yet comforted me. I have been pretty mean generally about all things American – I have implied that Americans lack sophistication, culture, manners and depth. I now have fairly shocking proof that I am not wrong. I rarely am. She told me that adults put gum under the table in restaurants – just like snot nosed kids in rough schools in the middle of council estates in Britain. I didn’t believe her. Since this was revealed I have checked in every place I have eaten in. I am a lady wot brunches AND lunches. I get out and about. I have yet to find the underside of a table chewing gum free. We are not talking MacDonald's. We are talking sophisticated adult orientated restaurants with entrees! Maybe it is considered a low calorie appetiser! Maybe the chewing gum aids concentration and improves dinner time performance. They take eating very seriously!
I’m sure God will forgive. 'Eee Bah Gum' is on the surface, nothing to do with Chewing gum. It is what is known as a 'minced oath'. It is a reference to God ! Yorkshire for OMG! Well... I beg to differ. 'ee bah gum' is a godly reference to the holy act of chewing gum! It is a holy act... In America! According to John H. Lienhard, Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering and History at the University of Houston, Frankincense (normally burned as incense) is a form of resin which can be chewed and he takes ‘odd comfort in the image of the Wise Men offering chewing gum to the Christ Child’. Maybe I could take some comfort in this cultural metaphor of America too, only this time it is me sticking my tongue out, waggling it about and saying 'THERE IS NOTHING THERE!'




Oldie but Goldie!
I was calmly having my breakfast when an American (noisily chewing gum) sat beside me.
I ignored the American who (lacking any social etiquette) started a conversation.
American: "Do you eat the whole bread?"
Me (looking at American like he was an idiot): "Of course!"
American: "We don't. We only eat what is inside and the outside we put together in a container, recycle it, transform it into crumpets and sell it to
Britain."
I listened in silence.
The American insists: "Do you eat the bread with jam?"
Me: "Of course!"  (at this point I called him a knob, He smiled and thanked me for reminding him that bread and Jam is often taken with butter! Knob!)
American: "We don't. We eat fresh fruit for our breakfast, put all the seed and the rest in containers, recycle them, transform them into jam and sell the jam to Britain"
I asked: "And what do you do with condoms once you used them?"
American: "We throw them away, of course
Me: "We don't. We put them in a container, recycle them, transform them into chewing gum and sell it to America."

4 comments:

  1. Oompa Loompa doompety doo
    I've got another puzzle for you
    Oompa Loompa doompedah dee
    If you are wise you'll listen to me

    Gum chewing's fine when it's once in a while
    It stops you from smoking and brightens your smile
    But it's repulsive, revolting and wrong
    Chewing and chewing all day long
    The way that a cow does

    Oompa Loompa doompety da
    Given good manners you will go far
    You will live in happiness too
    Like the Oompa Loompa doompety do

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  2. Fab!
    How could I have forgotten the little orange men's dislike of chewing gum?!

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  3. I hate chewing gum and think bubble gum is worse, I would never buy it for the children. I can't remember buying it for you. I did see someone at school choke on chewing gum and it was very frightening.

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  4. I hate to be so boring and practical but Chewing gum keeps those American teeth so delightfuly clean and white while keeping their breath so clean and fresh while the brits pride themselves on their brown and crooked smiles. But the come back (don't mind the pun) on condom recycling made me laugh in spite of the facts. As they say over here God don't love ugly.

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