Loved the wad …

Last weekend, I was watching The US Open Golf Championship and noticed something I had not seen before. Some of the golfers were chewing gum, perhaps to relax or help them to concentrate. I’m not sure. It reminded me of my gum chewing days.

I published a story some years ago about going to the movies on my first date. At one point, just after I put my arm around her shoulder, I squirmed and reached under the seat with my free hand. There I found a mine field of immovable, petrified gum that seemed like a map of the world in relief. “Eeow. Just during my most romantic moment.” I quickly removed my hand — from the seat, that is.

I chewed lots of gum. Why not? The baseball players did. In fact, one player, Nellie Fox, a little second baseman for the White Sox had a giant wad of tobacco wrapped in chewing gum ballooning his cheek. He seemed fine though he spit rivers of brown juice.

Nellie with his wad …

Most of the time, I chomped on Fleer’s Dubble Bubble, a favorite because it came with cards of baseball players. The cards lasted, but the gum wore out quickly, taking on the consistency of tar and the flavor of sawdust almost within minutes. I switched to Wrigley’s Spearmint because Mom and my aunts chewed it as a breath freshener and a (doubtful) teeth cleaner. It was awful, medicinal-like.

I tried Juicy Fruit, sweeter, but it also lost its flavor quickly. I recall the song, “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?” Mine did long before it hit the post. So back to the pinks of bubble gum; Fleer’s Dubble Bubble my favorite, though Bazooka,

wrapped with a Bazooka Joe comic strip, was a close second.
Not only was the bubble gum flavor superior, but it was also designed for blowing bubbles. There was a certain way I used my tongue to flatten the gum in a circle against the back of my teeth and blow. Some bubbles I blew were bigger than my head. Sure enough, you guessed it. The big kids popped it, and it stuck on my face and in my hair. Mom trundled after me with her scissors, cutting out a chunk of sticky, rubbery hair, the bald patch now a humiliating symbol of my bubble blowing proficiency.

Bubble gum came with those tall-tale, illogical, frightening parent wives’ tales: “If you swallow it, it will collect and make a huge ball that will block your intestines. It sticks to your stomach for seven years.” As a gastroenterologist, I assure you that it is most unlikely that swallowed gum will not be digested.

Over the years, I tried Chicklets and Tutti Frutti but, though they were cute, they could never match the pink pleasure of the ‘wad’. Today, gum is sold in a variety of shapes and flavors like blueberry pie and tomato soup (so they say). Why would they do that to gum?

I’m wondering if I might try chewing gum tomorrow during my golf round.

© 2019

** In yesterday’s GoLocalProv