You probably won’t like me anymore after I admit this.
But it being Memorial Day and all (a day of remembering those who fought for our country and a day of making admissions related to chewable but not digestable snack products) I figured it was time to admit to doing something that I think everyone else probably does but never admits it for fear of being looked at with suspicious eyes.
Yes, today I’d like to admit that I… feel gum.
It started simply enough. I was young and sitting at an elementary school bench and just happened to place both hands beside my body, grasping the edge of the wooden bench. My fingers, of course, snaked around and under the bottom of the wood slat (as fingers often do when you’re gripping onto something that you’re sitting on) and they felt something smooth, not entirely symmetrical, but curiously intriguing. With an extra little push into the globule of semi-firmness, it came clear to me all at once that someone had chewed up gum, lazily squished it under the wooden bench top, and hoped that the consequences of such an act would never come to pass.
That is, not thinking that another innocent person (me) would pass by, sit down, and feel the gum almost accidentally.
But these days, everywhere I go I seem to feel gum. I was at a restaurant the other day and accidentally felt underneath the edge of the table by my chest. What did I find? A few pieces of gum. At the local to-go sandwich counter, at the local coffee’s corner table, under a conference room’s conference table and so on… People are chewing gum, deciding there’s no taste left, then squishing the remnants underneath tables — assuming gravity will never displace the sticky substance.
And me? I feel it.
But strangely, I don’t ever look. Never. There’s some kind of internal fear that if I look and see exactly what is stuck there, it may ruin the entire obsession. Without looking, without any visual confirmation — I can’t confirm 100% that I’ve just felt old gum. I can tell you that I think there’s some gum stuck under here but I can’t fully and honestly agree that what I think is down there, really IS down there.
And I think by not looking, I’m saving myself a whole lotta hurt.
A great metaphor to the above scenario is this: I was once driving my car down the street and I believe that I slammed into a parked car on the side of the road. I mean, I could feel what felt like a crash of some kind with accompanying scraping and a few sparks lighting up the night air. I think I may have also felt a side mirror come off, but I never looked. Ever. In fact, I never stopped, and to this day have never looked at the right side of my car.
That means that it never really happened.
And if I never look at the right side of my car, I was never in an accident and I never was involved in a hit and run with a parked car and I can never feel guilty or be arrested for something that I never fully saw myself do. Sure, I felt it, but what are feelings other than insignificant and trivial electronic synapses being sent from the brain to other “feeling parts” of the body?
Same goes for the feeling of the gum. Sure, I can feel the gum. But if I never look under there to see the gum, I could potentially not be feeling gum. So before you get all grossed-out or something because you think Pauly D is feeling old chewed-up gum underneath public tables countywide, remember this:
What I’m feeling may not be gum at all.
Then, of course, the thinking machines start pistoning away. Could it be glue, perhaps? Keeping the slats of the bench together? Or what if that gloppy substance is some kind of plastic resin that seals up outdoor to-go tables for the rainy weather? What if what I’m feeling feels like gum, but is in reality, some kind of fake gum substance put there to freak out people who don’t want to feel gum, but do accidentally?
See? There’s a wide array of possibilities.
That being said, I just had to admit to you all today that I’m pretty sure I’m feeling gum and I hope that on today, Memorial Day, you can forgive me for an obsession that may not be an obsession at all.
I know I have.