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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

They Call Me Mr. Cud! or Our Gum Intake Was Severely Curtailed


The man at the front of the bus has gum, a lot of it, and he’s not afraid to the show the world.

Such a display of strength!  Jaws working tirelessly, the bones in his face flex like he’s being paid by the chew, like chewing gum is his full time job.

My mother would pass out. 

My mother’s idea of gum was – and is – Juicy Fruit.  One whiff of that gum, to this day, and I’m sitting in a church pew, tiny white patent leather shoes jutting out before me.  My mother tears a stick of gum in two, gives one half to me, one half to my brother, and my pudgy pink fingers unwrap it, put it up to my nose, eyes closed, inhaling that first precious flood of Juicy Fruit-ness.

In five minutes, we will be spitting it back out into her outstretched hand.

“I won’t have you kids chewing like cows,” she’d say later.

But oh, how we wanted to chew like cows!  Like the sassy, defiant children we yearned to be, snapping our gum and boldly putting our hands on our hips.

“What are you, a Jet or a Shark?” my dad would say.  “Get that hand off your hip.”

“I think they’re looking for something to do, Paul,” my mother would intone darkly.

Something to do?  Oh, for cryin’ out loud, fellas!  I’m – I’m busy – I got places to go!  A clever, fleet-footed child would ankle it toward the screen door about this time or find herself faced with raking up the shag carpeting.  Sure, you can dance with the rake when your mom’s not looking, but it’s still indoor raking!

Raking.

Indoors.

Mo-om!

The jaws of the young man at the front of the bus are working, working.  Rather than sit, he stands, and I am free to stare until I can stare no longer.  His skin tone a dark red that implies high blood pressure and, possibly, gout in later years, he chews like a man with a grudge.

Meanwhile, at the back of the bus, I give up admiring the Mandibles of Death and turn to watch the early-morning world slide past my window.

And I think I smell Juicy Fruit.

35 comments:

Shelly said...

Ahh- that Juicy Fruit scent takes me back. My grandma always had a pack in her purse, and would tear each stick in two, just like your mom.

I still have one of her wallets. I take it out every now and then and open it to get a whiff of that long ago scent that's still in it- Juicy Fruit.

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Pearl! I'm not a fan of the American preoccupation with gum, especially the open-mouthed-while-smiling kind. However, I occasionally have some in a restrained, English kind of way, and I'm very fond of Juicy Fruit. True story. Indigo x

joeh said...

Loed Jucie-fruit, but never see it any more in the stores.

Do you remember "Black Jack" gum?

Joanne Noragon said...

Such a nice little trip on the trip. It will be a good day.

Simply Suthern said...

Loved Juicy Fruit as well.

We had and elderly man at Church we called the Chewing Gum Man. He brought gum for all the kids. After service we all lined up for a pack.

I remember him being a very quiet shy man with 3 of the meanest boys around. Maybe he didnt give them gum.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Growing up in NY in the 50's and 60's, the first thing I did when reaching the platform of the subway was to bug my mom to put the nickel in the gum machine and get me my Juicy Fruit. It seemed a lot of people liked that flavor also as I remember that as the aroma of subway. Times have changed though and I am sure the smell has changed drastically.

esbboston said...

If you find your self in the same situation again (spitting spent gum back into your mother's hand), secretly cut the gum in half and return only a portion. Then you can delightfuLLy regale in cow like rebellious manner, albeit at a 50 percent efficiency.

L-Kat said...

Mandibles of Death! Haha! I have some pretty impressive jaw muscles that I thank my gum habit for.

Jenny Woolf said...

Seem to remember we had Juicy Fruit but it never tasted like fruit to me. Perhaps that was the English version.

Geo. said...

All this chewing, chewing food, gum, it gets to be a habit. Maybe it'd be easier if we all ran on diesel. Bus does.

vanilla said...

Remember when chewing gum in the classroom was a heinous crime?

Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point said...

I was more of a Hubba Bubba man. And I'm not just talking about with regards to gum, if you know what I mean. Actually I don't know what I mean so scratch that last part.

Ian Lidster said...

Juicy Fruit was good, but I was always more of a Dentyne kid. But I agree about the salivation. Snapping gum was taboo in our house and we'd definitely be made to spit it out. Did you save your gum at nighttime and start it up again in the morning?

Eva Gallant said...

Juicy Fruit was definitely a scent to remember!

Jacquelineand.... said...

You got Juicy Fruit? Aw man, my past is jealous of your past...we got stuck with that saaad spearmint stuff.

Stephen Hayes said...

You bring back a flood of memories. I can't remember the last time I chewed gum. Must go out and get me some Juicy Fruit. It's still five cents a pack, right?

Symdaddy said...

Talking of chewing gum ...

... three days ago I sat in some of that stuff stuck to a chair in a cafe!

I immediately thought 'That Pearl is out to get me just because I poked her on FB'

Sioux said...

This brought back such memories, Pearl. Juicyfruit. Gum torn in half. Patent leather shoes...The flood of memories means only one thing: I'm old. ;)

Gigi said...

I love Juicy Fruit! But, you are right, five minutes later the flavor is gone and then what's the point?

jenny_o said...

Everyone! Sing together now:

Does your chewing gum lose its flavour
On the bedpost overnight?
Does your mother say "Don't chew it!"
And you swallow it in spite...

(sung to the same tune as the Smarties jingle, When You Eat Your Smarties Do You Eat The Red Ones Last - but preceding it by, uh, a few years)

Pearl, may I use Mandibles of Death the next time I visit my dentist, to describe why my jaw is still sore all the time :)

NotesFromAbroad said...

Back when I was a little girl in North Carolina, my dads sister would chew gum ... ( like a cow with cud my mom would say). And she made those popping noises with it .. I always tried to make gum pop when I chewed it. I never managed.
But my mother and her opinions and the mental image of the cow, made me stop chewing gum.
Some mothers just kill fun, you know ?

jenny-o ... LOL I love that song ... good memories :)

klahanie said...

Hey Pearl,
First of all, there will be no admin fee attached to my comment! You can um bank on that.
You certainly gave me plenty to chew over in this posting. In fact, you have inspired me to go watch the cows in the fields near where I live.
And then I'm heading over to the 'Chewing Gum Festival in Chicago at "Wrigley Field" :)
Your starstruck fan, Gary....

Lin said...

Juicy Fruit gum = vacation.

well, to me, anyway. To this day, if I'm flying anywhere, Juicy Fruit is going with me. It ain't vacation unless you've got Juicy Fruit.

The Elephant's Child said...

No gum. Never. I do not want to see what anyone, least of all my children have had for breakfast. We too smelt Juicy Fruit - but never chewed it. Inhaled, but didn't chew.

Pat said...

I've had to stop chewing gum when I'm on the sofa. I wake up gumless.

Lynn said...

I had forgotten about Juicy Fruit. :)

River said...

When I was little Juicy Fruit was kids gum, when one graduated to high school, juicy fruiters were laughed as babies. I didn't much like the P.K. gum, so gave up gum altogether.

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

Juicy Fruit is fine, but Spearmint lasted longer....haha!

Amy said...

My mom was kind of a hippy, so we all chewed gum all the time. I loved it when she had Juicy Fruit, but she usually had Double Mint. Both lasted about five minutes before the sugary goodness gave out. I still chew gum every day and consider it one of the worlds greatest inventions!

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

The rules surrounding gum chewing were many. Only one piece in your mouth (awwwww), mouth closed, no noises....and on we go. Took all the fun out of it.

Rose L said...

My mom told us to chew food and gum with our mouths closed. When she was not looking we would gnaw away, blow bubbles, and stretch lengths from our mouths. Mom probably knew of our pranks but never let on.

NellieVaughn said...

He is just making it nice and soft, so that he can blow the world's largest bubbles.

Paula Wooters said...

Juicy Fruit... brings back memories of MY mom telling me not to chew like a cow.

Suldog said...

Damn it, woman, you may be the funniest female alive.

Pearl, I'd love to give you a spot of honor in my blogroll; something in the upper section where I describe folks a bit. The problem, though, is that I long ago decided (and made the decision public) to not list anyone unless he or she also listed me in some way. As horribly gratuitous and beggy as this sounds, would you be willing to list me? In the seven years I've been blogging, I've never asked anyone to list me. Never. I've always just taken whatever came naturally. But you're so damn good, I'd love to list YOU. So, I'm asking.

I'll even let you claim that "beggy", when it eventually becomes deemed worthy of inclusion in Webster's, was a word invented by you. How about it?

Jen said...

Robin Williams: "I never thought I could be with anyone who chewed jawbreakers ... but look at that JAW!"