Chew on this: columnist buys gum, chews it

I’ve been chewing more gum lately. (If that sentence hasn’t pulled you into this column, then I give up on trying exciting new ledes.)

Why? Glad you asked. It all started, like many fascinating stories do, because I had water in my ear. Still do, actually, and I’m pretty sure there is some kind of infection happening there. Whatever. The point is, the water was making my ears and head pop. What to do? Then, I remembered all those times I forgot to bring gum on an airplane because riding airplanes also makes your ears pop. I thought, “Hmmm, maybe I’ll try some gum …”

So I left work for a few hours and walked down to Circle K to find some gum. There it was, right by the candy bars and barefoot woman muttering profanities to herself. So many options though! Which kind of gum did I want? The kind where I can blow huge bubbles or the kind from the commercials that makes the Eskimo girl wearing a fur coat and bikini want to kiss you? I played it conservative with brand recognition and went with Wrigley’s Doublemint.

I didn’t know how much to buy—it’s difficult to commit to a large quantity of gum when you haven’t chewed a piece in 10 years—so I bought one pack of five pieces. It cost 35 cents. I gave the cashier a dollar and she said, “Would you like to donate the change to blah, blah, blah organization/fund?” I was like, “Are you serious? That donation, though minimal, is not at all relative to my purchase.” But then the homeless barefoot woman spilled a LOT of relish near the hot dog fixins area, so I just left. With my change.

I arrived back at work and started chewing. Sure enough, my head stopped popping after a few minutes. Plus, get this—the gum was delicious.

Chewing gum is one of those things you do as a kid—like playing with toys and having a generally positive worldview—but then stop for some reason. I was sitting at my desk chewing gum like, “Why did I ever stop this? It’s so easy!”

Sure enough, I started buying 35-cent packs every few days (I still can’t commit—this could be a fad). Sensing that gum did more than temporarily relieve deep inner infections, I did some research.

Turns out gum is good for a lot of things. According to the famous site, gum can improve your memory. Maybe that’s why I suddenly remembered how to do Algebra after chewing four pieces of gum (four pieces of gum times pi times zero equals zero, BAM! That’s Algebra, right?). Also, gum reduces stress. Now when I get home and my daughters start flipping out about some nonsense, I just pop a piece of gum in my mouth and say, “Wrigley’s Doublemint, TAKE ME AWAY.” It doesn’t work, and it actually makes everything worse because then they start demanding I give them gum. But still, it works.

Chewing gum is also good for digestion which, if you read this column, you know is often my arch nemesis. I’m not a scientist, but this is how it works: When you’re chewing gum, your stomach, which is an idiot, thinks you’re chewing food. So it’s all like, “Better make room for the food that’s a comin’!” And then you go to the bathroom easily.

So there you have it. Gum is like magic, and it is also delicious. For chewing. Don’t swallow because then it will stay in your system for seven years, which is something I just randomly remembered from childhood.

Oh, plus Chris Brown chews it! So you know you're doing the right thing.
Note: This column appears in the 7/11 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/12 issue of the Peoria Times.