Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Don't mean to burst your bubble but...

I have a confession. I swallow my gum and I have done so for my whole life. If my kindergarten playmate Georgina was right, then I have a gigantic ball of gum in my stomach that, even as I type, is strangling my intestines and ensuring a slow and painful death. We now know that while gum cannot be broken down in the normal way, it does eventually, make its way out of our systems.

Even as a tike, I was concerned about the etiquette of proper gum disposal and just couldn't bear the thought of holding chewed gum in my hands.

Today, gum, and how people chew it, is among my top five etiquette pet peeves so I thought I'd share a few tips on how to be a choiceful chewer.

It's not a spectator sport - What is it with gum that turns normally polite people into loud, insensitive boors? If you insist on chewing it, please keep your mouth closed. Chewing gum with your mouth open is a disgusting habit. Nobody wants to see the inside of your gaping maw every three seconds as you go through the mastication process.

Just say no to crack(ing) - I'm not sure why gum-chewing is such a noisy endeavour for so many people but it is exceedingly annoying for those in your proximity. I suspect that chronic chewers keep the same piece in their mouth for so long that eventually it's just a small, hard ball which rattles against their teeth causing that incessant snapping sound. You may not know you're doing it but it's driving everybody crazy.

Don't multi-task - In a professional setting, it's almost impossible to chew gum and speak at the same time. If you are in a meeting, job interview, presentation or any other situation in which you will be speaking to others with the intention of impressing them, ditch the gum beforehand.

Dispose with dignity - Evidence of our dwindling etiquette litters North American sidewalks in the form of hardened, black circles of used gum. The act of spitting out one's gum is a bit of a faux-pas pileup: you're spitting, littering and defacing in one fell swoop. When the gum in your mouth has lost its lustre, your civil options are: swallowing it, removing it with your hands and placing it in a garbage receptable, or, if there isn't one close, wrapping it in a napkin or piece of paper for disposal later. If at all possible, removing gum from one's mouth should be in private.

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