Sunday, July 11, 2010

Southern Note: Mastication Misery

It's not that I have anything inherently against chewing gum...  Done politely (you know, a very small piece chewed with lips together) it's fine - and actually has many documented benefits (freshens breath, reduces stress, balances pressures in the ear, improves oral health, etc.).  I've even been known to chew it myself.  The problem I have is with that portion of our population who perpetually pop and crack their way through the day.  You know the type - they chew their gum as though they have the last piece on earth, and this is the last time they'll be allowed to chew it.  If this were only true...  Put a piece of gum in their mouths and these normally polite, well-mannered people turn into masticating machines, seemingly intent on proving their evolutionary link to apes and assaulting the senses.  It's offensive, intrusive and obnoxious to those around.  Are you one of these?  If you're wondering, try this.  Stand in front of a mirror while you are chewing gum and look at yourself.  Is your mouth open, allowing you to see everything that is going on in there?  Can you smell the flavor of the gum as it bounces off the mirror?  Can you hear the obnoxious noises emanating through your open lips?  This is what you force everyone around you to endure.  If that's not enough to make you give up the gum, detach yourself and really look at yourself chewing gum.  Do you honestly think that you are putting your best foot forward?  Or that you look remotely attractive or professional while gum chewing?  Might be time to omit the Orbit, ditch the Dentyne or eliminate the Extra.  And if you can't kick the habit, here's my advice.  Chew a piece 1/4 the size of your usual chaw, focus on keeping your lips closed, and do not chew like it's your job.  You'll find that, strangely, you will get the same benefits - and those around you will appreciate the thoughtfulness, I assure you.