you ever looked at the sidewalks of New York? They are
completely covered in gum. Old fossilized gum, baked and
blackened and permanently embedded in the surface of the sidewalk.
Where did all this gum come from?? Or maybe the better question
is, when did it all get there...?
I have never once seen or stepped in a freshly discarded piece of gum
on the sidewalk. I don't think people do that so much nowadays.
But there must have been a period in our nation's history when
the whole population was simply gum-crazy... Everyone just walking
around chewing their gum, all hours of the day, like some sort of
Non-Stop Gum Fiesta... Hey, this gum is losing its flavor... Throw it
on the sidewalk and then have some more gum!
I suspect all that gum we see now is from the 1970s... that was a messy
decade. People didn't give a shit. I'm sure they didn't
have trash cans on every corner like they do now. Maybe they didn't
even have handy pocket-size Kleenex packs or abundant supplies of paper
napkins at every deli. So what was a person supposed to do
with their gum? (Well, if you were me during the 1970s, you
swallowed it. More on that later...)
Still, it's kind of hard for me to believe people used to have such a
careless attitude. Cigarette butts are one thing... they're gonna
degrade and disappear eventually. But gum? It's a menace to everyone
trying to walk.
And it will never go away.
Seeing those black blotches on the sidewalk makes me think that the old
story about gum staying in your stomach forever might be true.
And then I start to worry about all that Bubblicious and Big
League Chew I ingested during my childhood. And if it all stayed
in my stomach, well maybe that's the reason I grew up so scrawny...
diminished stomach capacity, due to a build-up of gum.
The more I think about it, the more certain I am that all that gum is
still with me. I never let go of anything. And I know it's
unhealthy to keep things inside of me like that. But the oyster gives
me hope. Because maybe someday if I hold it in long enough I'll
produce a pearl. A beautiful gum pearl.