Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Chew on This

I was reading a local interest magazine when I learned that our city has been chosen as one of 15 local areas to take part in the Keep Britain Tidy Chewing Gum Action campaign.  (For my non-UK readers, the word "tidy" gets used a lot in England.  It is certainly a very desirable state of being, especially for Chumley.)  To be clear, no one like sitting or stepping in gum.  But one man's defacement is another man's art - the picture at right is considered a piece of "folk art" in Charleston, South Carolina.  Yes, I can see a lot of tenderness and TMJ went into this work.  The value of the Dubble Bubble used alone has to be $10 or so.

Someone must have alerted the local authorities I have arrived.  It is not a rumor - I am indeed the 1981 Illinois State Fair Bubble Yum Bubble Gum bubble blowing champion.  I was not yet six years of age at the time -- use the term "prodigy" if you must.  I later expanded my oeuvre/carnie skills to blowing a bubble within a bubble within a bubble.  Like the Olympics, once that feat was achieved, where else was there to go?

Thanks to training by my tidy mother, I have always thrown my gum away in bins (the trash), or swallowed it if desperate. I only once used it to deface property.  I'm specifically recalling the ordeal around age 6 where I fell asleep with gum in my mouth.  My mother woke me in the morning and discovered, much to her horror, a massive gob firmly embedded in my long, flowing hair that had also won the 1981 Illinois State Fair prize for longest ponytail in age group.  Let my readers glean that gum chewing and hair growing are not necessarily good hobbies to pursue in tandem.  After what I recall as a major flap involving moaning, hand-wringing, and the desperate but ineffectual use of peanut butter and ice cubes, she schlepped me over to my grandma's to see if the kid oracle might have the solution.  Nope.  I had a major hunk of hair missing for a few months, but I don't seem to recall minding.  It didn't interfere with my gum chewing schedule.

Our local city is concerned with a number of "gum hot spots."  The amount of gum in these areas will be measured and cleaned over the next three months.  I pity the poor soul who gets that job assignment.  Is his official title "Council Gobstopper?" Do they measure by ruler, or merely by volume of waddage?  Lest you think I am joking, the official website is http://www.chewinggumactiongroup.org.uk/.

I believe I have a solution.  My mother combined her love of cute arts and crafts and tidiness by buying me what is known as a gum parker.  My first one had a little baseball mitt in glazed ceramic, dutifully displayed on my dresser.  When full, the gob of gum saved looked like a colorful baseball in the mitt, or in my case a basketball.  I tended to chew as much as my mouth could hold.  I upgraded years later to the model below, which our moving man recently unearthed in our kitchenware.  Isn't that where you would keep your gum parker?  The man seemed stumped, but that could have been his expression for grossed out.

In sum, I think personal gum parkers are the answer.  It would save quite a few man hours currently devoted to all this unauthorized parking.

To be fair, Chumley abhors my gum parker and everything it stands for.  Nevermind him.  And I thought he was all for recycling?

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