Chiclephobia, By Gum!
“Harry, my horrid honey,” said Dearest Duck, “if you scribble about that subject I’m leaving you.” “A tad harsh, my Duck,” said I. “I swear I’ll go straight home to mother!” “My Duck?” “Well, if mother was still with us I would,” said Dearest Duck, scravelling from the room choking back the sounds of imminent retching.
“My Duck…,” said I.
Dearest Duck is chiclephobic.
She is among the thousands of phobic humans afflicted by a fear chewing gum. Truly. And would you wonder? Listen to this: Modern chewing gum is made from “butadiene-based synthetic rubber”.
Butadiene-based synthetic rubber!
Does that sound like something sensible to stick in your chops and chaw?
Humans have been chewing gum for ages — at least since the Neolithic Age when a favourite gummy treat was birch bark tar. The evidence is indisputable — anthropologists have found wads of chewed tar stuck to the undersides of Neolithic schoolboys’ desks. “Harry!” “My Duck…?” No, not Dearest Duck. Just my noggin reacting to 50 years of behavioural conditioning.
The Aztecs also enjoyed a stick of gum. Their favourite chew was chicle, gooey ooze from the bark of certain tropi- cal trees — something like myrrh, I s’pose.
I ‘ low they were the people who invented Chicklets, eh b’ys?
Speaking of myrrh. American Indians worked their jaws on lumps formed from the sap of spruce trees — myrrh.
In ancient times, before Mr. Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit made monopolizing inroads into out-harbour shops,
it wasn’t uncommon for folks desperately seeking oral stimulation to soak a knob of frank’um in their cheeks until it softened enough to chew — spruce gum by another name, eh b’ys?
When I was a bay-boy still grinding my milk teeth, Pappy kept a ‘ baccy tin of frank’um on our windowsill, always at hand should one of us feel the urge to exercise our molars. Truly. Hey, remember the Alamo? Davy Crockett and his buddies made their last stand at the Alamo defending Texas against a hard thicket from Mexico — General Santa Anna.
It’s hard to say who won that fracas. Texas remained free but Davy and all hands die in its defence. Santa Anna, however, despite laying serious kick-ass on the Alamo’s ramparts, was captured by Sam Houston.
What does the Alamo have to do with chewing gum? Nothing. However — and this must be true because I learned it at Mr. Google’s house — Santa Anna chewed chicle while he was Sam Huston’s prisoner…
… and some observant entrepreneur saw Santa Anna’s jaws in motion, learned the particulars, then invented chewing gum. Truly…maybe. So, about chiclephobia — fear, or absolute disgust in the presence of chewing gum.
First, though, a tidbit of celebrity trivia.
Oprah Winfrey — Dearest Duck is in celebrated company — is chiclephobic and it’s her grandmother’s fault. When Oprah was a little girl she’d sometimes discover granny’s previously chewed gum lined off in the kitchen cupboards, stored for future activity. Now that’s disgusting. No wonder wee Oprah developed a phobia.
If Dearest Duck ever reads these scribbles she will brain me for certain because…
… because — perversely, I s’pose — I wonder if Oprah’s granny lodged her dentures alongside her hoarded gum?
Yet chewing gum sales are still profitable.
Folks still do disgusting things with it, especially regarding disposal methods.
I’m not even going to mention the continuing popularity of school desks as disposal sites. No, I’m not.
Little kids, for whom gum — especially Double Bubble — is a new experience, will glutch the rubbery wads when the sweetness dissolves despite parental warnings that their bums will seize up and pooping will be impossible.
Such kiddy behaviour isn’t terribly disgusting, I s’pose.
Certain adults, on the other hand, grown-ups who should know better, constantly, and ubiquitously, exhibit revolting behaviour. They act like camels, ruminants rumoured to explosively expel their cuds — to spit out the mashed contents of their gobs.
This in mind, picture a newly paved parking lot with a couple of strategically placed garbage can. Picture the expanse of brand new unsullied asphalt.
Imagine time-lapse photography monitoring the parking lot. People pop out of their cars and spit out their gum onto the pavement, wilfully ignoring the garbage cans. Tires flatten the discarded gum to the size of loonies and, over time, create acreages of…well, gum dollars. Gum dollars! Now that’s disgusting. Granny’s stowed gum generated Oprah’s chiclephobia. Dearest Duck? I’m too gutless to ask if, as an impressionable girl-child, she experienced some trauma in an asphalt field of gum dollars.
Thank you for reading.