Have 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.  

Musings Past