Sunday, 30 January 2011

Mastication Irritation

Not a welcome shoe accessory...
Once, someone offered me some chewing gum. I didn’t particularly want some, so I casually replied ‘No, I don’t do gum’, making it sound like an illegal drug in the process. Even though chewing gum isn’t actually a Class A drug, I still despise it as if it was one.

I will turn to science now and tell you what gum is. It’s traditionally made from chicle, a natural latex product or synthetic rubber called polyisobutylene. Polyisobutylene is a non-vulcanisable form of the rubber used for bicycle inner tubes. Non-vulcanised just means that no sulphur has been added. Even with the lack of sulphur, you’re chewing an inner tube! You’re at the beginning of a long gastronomical journey involving eating a bicycle. That’s disgusting.

Ignoring the rubbish that it’s made out of, the problems start when someone begins to chew. And most chew like a cow trying to crush grass into liquid. The jaws move up and down and side to side, distorting their face into a photographic representation of a Picasso drawing. And they just keep going, chewing and chewing, creating enormous amounts of saliva which will eventually end up spat out onto the streets, making everyone’s shoes sticky.

The chewing sound is also incredibly annoying. It sounds like a pig squelching through mud, which isn’t particularly appetising to be honest. I reckon that the texture of the gum was specifically designed to provide that noise, in a pathetic joke by the inventors of gum. Like the people who put subliminal messages into Disney films.

Chewing gum is okay to start with. You begin with a neat, clean white slab with a strong mint flavour diffusing from it to your nostrils. You take the first bite, letting the minty flavour explode into your taste buds. The power of mint overwhelms you, like smelling a bacon sandwich from afar, making you anxious to continue forwards.

Unfortunately, it loses its flavour quicker than expected, turning into a soggy pulp of white bicycle inner tube. But you can’t spit it out, as your jaws seem to have gained momentum and stopping just feels wrong. You’re becoming habituated to the masticating motions, you’re addicted.

You keep chomping away at the soggy mess until your jaws begin to ache, your mouth is filled with gallons of saliva and the bicycle inner tube flavour is becoming monotonous and disgusting. The problems are coming thick and fast.

Where does it go?

You could spit it into a plastic bag, in preparation for storage, reading to mould a new bicycle inner tube (using your state of the art vulcanisation equipment). Alternatively, you could spit it into a tissue or put it on the underside of a desk, so it can become a stalactite, a relic of past chewing habits. Most people go for the second option.

I’d personally like to go for the Singapore option when it comes to gum. In 1992, there was a ban on chewing gum in imports and sales. This also means you can’t have it in your hand luggage when you fly there as it is technically importing.

Either that or I move to Singapore. Or I just put up with it.

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