MARK L. BAKKE'S
Night Owl Mk. II




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GUMBLASTERS




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CHEWING GUM




In Singapore, you can get a $1,000 fine for chewing gum in public. This is not because they have anything against gum chewing, per se, but derives from a concern for all the nasty wads that chewers leave on sidewalks and park benches in a city that goes all out to protect its cleanliness. I'm thinking that this wouldn't be such a bad thing to implement in this country, as well.
    What is the deal with the exploding popularity of chewing gum in this country among adults? It used to be that you rarely saw an adult chew gum unless he was quitting smoking. Now, however, it's common to see any random group of adults looking more like a herd of cattle with all the cud chewing that is going on.
    Why is this? Sure, chewing gum normally has a pleasant flavor -- but so does a roll of Peppermint LifeSavers. Furthermore, why is it that all semblance of intelligence seems to vacate an individual who has a wad of chewing gum in his mouth? Look into a chewer's eyes sometime and see what I mean. It's like the act of chewing deadens the synapses of the brain.
    Then, there's the chewing itself. Why is it that 99 out of 100 gum chewers can't chew it with their mouth closed or without emitting all make and manner of annoying cracking, popping, chomping, shlurping or shlomping noises? If people sat down to dinner and did the same thing while chewing their food, they would be considered little short of barbarians. I can actually recognize when certain unseen people are in a room by the sound of their gum chewing. Go for a drive of any length with a car full of noisy gum chewers and it's likely to drive you batty by the time you get where you were going.
    But, why the big increase in chewing in the first place? A lot of gum chewers have never smoked, so that can't account for it all. I suspect that gum chewing has a calming effect on people who are experiencing stress. It's a way to work off nervous tension without punching out a wall or a co-worker. There's no doubt that stress is increasing rapidly in society. While I haven't seen any scientific studies on the issue, I suspect that there's a correllation between the rise in stress and the rise in popularity of gum chewing. Certainly, few of the really laid-back people I know are gum chewers. Of course, few of them are smokers or coffee addicts, either.
    Sorry, Mr. Wrigley, but chewing gum really oughta be like drugs -- "Just Say No"...


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