My father is a very, shall we say, eccentric person. I always read stories that people write about their childhoods in which they claim to not know how strange their families were. Not me. I was always acutely aware of it.
My father was a big gum chewer. He still is in fact. He likes to chew the same piece of gum for three of four days. He complains that gum nowadays is too soft and too flavorful for his liking.
He only chewed Wrigleys mint gum or the original cinnamon Dentyne (which I admit is the only kind I like personally). But they still had too much flavor, hence him chewing them for days.
Now this wouldn’t have been so bad, except that he used to take his gum out of his mouth and stick it to whatever was closest while he ate his meals. Usually it was the dashboard in his truck. But sometimes it was kitchen counters or the stove.
My mother found this habit particularly disgusting so she would shriek on finding the little grey pre-chewed wads and would promptly throw them in the trash. My father, not to be deterred would then pick through the trash till he found the gum wad and would resume chewing it.
I always found this completely horrifying and revolting. Unfortunately, my little sister did not. Inspired by his example, she used to do the same.
That’s worse than trash picking/dumpster diving/freeganism. Eating sealed food from the trash is on thing. This is another.
In recent years you can still find the gum stuck to the dash in his truck.
One night a few months ago I was out at a bar with him listening to some local music. He was chewing a piece of gum and dancing. I’m not sure what exactly he was doing, he is an unusual dancer ( I do a mean impression of it). Suddenly the gum fell out of his mouth onto the bar floor.
We all know and support the five second rule, right? But does that work in every situation? For me, no. Bathrooms, hospitals, gas stations, bars. These places are exempt from that loophole for me.
But not my dad.
Without hesitation he reached down, picked it up, and popped it back into his mouth. I was horrified and yes revolted, but also, not the least bit surprised. Several people around him reacted in disgust looking from him to me and probably wondering if I actually knew him, but I just laughed.
At this point in my life, my family is going to have to try a lot harder than that to embarrass me. I’ve become desensitized to it all. I’m beginning to wonder if I have any shame left.
It actually reminded me of when certain religious youth groups would pass around a piece of gum, then take it out of it’s wrapper and chew it up. Then the youth group leader would ask who wanted to chew the piece of gum now. The gum of course represented each of them and chewing it was akin to them having premarital sex.
I’m willing to bet, had my dad sat in one of those youth groups, he would have happily chewed that pre-chewed piece of gum.
Then again, he is gross like that.