I stood fourth in line at Quik Mart yesterday morning with my customary 20 oz coffee in hand. While my thoughts were fixated on consuming the golden deliciousness I took notice of the plethora of items available on the counter for immediate quick purchase.
There were small bottles filled with fluid to give you an extra boost of energy if you found yourself dragging in the middle of the day and bags of Swedish Fish that were calling to my inner child. Had it not been for the fact that it was 5:30 in the morning a package or two may have left the store with me and my coffee.
As I continued to stand behind customers purchasing their gasoline, high energy drinks and cigarettes for the day I discovered that someone was also purchasing a pack of Freedent chewing gum.
Gum. Now there was one of life’s greatest mysteries and a product that has always confused me. For no matter how often I chew it or how many bubbles I blow, inevitably two questions always come to mind whenever I consider gum of any sort:
First of all, why is it that we can invent things like the Internet or build a hover craft the size of a pea and land it exactly where want it to on the surface of Mars but we still can’t figure out how to make a stick of gum with flavor that doesn’t run out after 15 seconds?
Second and even more importantly: Has mankind ever really considered the true power of gum?
Back in my school days gum was considered contraband. One of the fastest ways to detention or the principals office. No one would dare sit in an Earth Science class chewing like a cow on Hubba Bubba. Only those with a wish for detention would ever dare to double their pleasure during school hours. But that didn’t deter us.
For in between classes, when no one with a teaching degree was looking, there was always gum to be found. Sometimes in bathroom stalls or behind locker doors it was doled out. And I confess, there was many a time I did raid my mother’s purse before school for the goodness of spearmint and bring it on campus. It’s power was just to big to ignore.
Aside from just the short-lived flavorful chewing factor, gum also gave you something more. Just having gum in your possession gave you popularity, courage and the confidence to do things you normally would never do.
Case in point: The only time I ever had the nerve to talk to any girls in school was if there was a pack of gum in my pocket. I’d never be able to ask a cute girl what she got for question three on a homework assignment much less ask her to a dance. Any attempt to open the line of communication in this manner was usually only met with sweaty palms and heart palpitations.
But put a pack of Fruit Stripe in my Garanimals and I instantly became a teenage Casanova. As long as I had the gum you knew I was going to fearlessly ask her if she wanted a piece and nine times out of ten she was going to say “Yes”.
Which leads me to this conclusion. Stronger than any threat of a nuclear mushroom cloud, gum could actually be the one thing that could bring about world peace.
I mean, what if John F. Kennedy had offered Nikita Khrushchev a stick of Bubblicious fifty years ago? I’m thinking Kroosh (I call him that) would have accepted and instead of having a Cuban Missile Crisis they might have had a bubble blowing contest.
Or what if Ronald Reagan had offered Mikhail Gorbachev some Freedent at one of their many meetings? Not only would it not have stuck to their dental work but I think it also might have ended the Cold War ten years earlier.
What if all the differences amongst nations could be solved by just the simple offer of a stick of gum?
We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what gum can really do for the good of mankind. Whether it be young love in school classrooms or summit meetings between rival nations, one thing remains certain:
The pack of gum: five chances to turn an enemy into a friend.