There are some things in life that are truly defining: a Quasimodo-type hump, an eardrum-piercing laugh, an eye patch combined with a parrot on your shoulder and a peg leg. But most physical characteristics are not so black and white. There’s a massive gray area, where these things are nuanced.
This brings me to my point.
From the time I was a kid, I was taught that if you chew gum, you chew a small piece, you conceal it discreetly in the side of your cheek, and you never let your mastication show. And that was the norm—you didn’t see a lot of people (beyond the schoolyard age) chomping away on a wad of gum.
Recently, plagued as I am by seasonal allergies, I’ve been experiencing a dry mouth as the result of my antihistamine use. It has pushed me to chew the occasional piece of gum. Discreetly. I was at a meeting, and I tilted my pack o’ Trident to the woman next to me, and said, “Gum?”
She looked at me with disdain and said, “I’m not a gum chewer.” ZING!!!! A gum chewer… it sounds a lot like an axe murderer, or a knuckle dragger, doesn’t it? Cuts me like a knife! The irony here being that this woman could clearly benefit from a course in personal hygiene—one that teaches people how to shower, wash their hair and launder their clothes. Seriously, when you have this woman looking down her nose at you, you have to take a real serious look at yourself.
So I did. Take a look at myself, that is. My gum is quietly resting between my cheek and my back molars, just slightly keeping my mouth moist. No popping, cracking, or blowing of bubbles. You wouldn’t even know I’ve got it in my mouth. But now that I’ve been deemed unfit for social contact by virtue of this faux pas, I’ll have to put my axe away and bandage my knuckles.