Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

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by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Vice

I‘m a gum chewer.
I admit it.
I’ve been like this since always.
Gum and I even have a history. If you want to go and read it now, we’ll wait . . .
I once chewed a piece of gum till it disintegrated.
I’m not making this up.
It takes a while, weeks even; one has to be determined.
But it can be done.
So I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to you that, through the years in Alberta’s non-chewing houses of learning, gum has gotten me into trouble.
Often.
Sigh.
It started right in the first grade.
“Diane!”
Picture my head snapping up as everything I have ever known disappears instantly and completely from my brain.
Something that happened every time a teacher called my name, for whatever reason.
All the way through college.
Moving on . . .
“What have you got in your mouth? Are you chewing gum?”
Frozen ‘deer in the headlights’ stare.
“You are, aren’t you?! You’re chewing gum!”
Slow, tentative nod.
“Get rid of it!”
At this point, the teacher would usually produce a trash can and hold it up suggestively, indicating that I should make the long, embarrassing trek from my desk to hers to spit out the offending bit of deliciousness.
Which I did.
As I got older, to save myself that final indignity, I would simply swallow the evidence as soon as I was discovered.
“Diane! Are you chewing gum?!”
Gulp.
“Did you swallow it? You did, didn’t you?!” Then, warningly, “It’ll stick your stomach together!”
Did any of this discourage me?
Yes.
Did it stop me?
No.
Then high school and Mrs. Wollersheim, that teacher of teachers.
That paragon of wisdom.
The smartest woman I ever knew.
“Diane! Are you chewing gum?”
Rats.
Mrs. W turned to the class. “Class, do you know the difference between the gum-chewing girl and the cud-chewing cow?”
Huh. Something different. Maybe I’d finally found a teacher who didn’t mind . . .
“It’s the thoughtful look on the face of the cow!”
I guess not.
“Diane! Get rid of it!”
I had already done so, but I nodded anyway.
After that, all she had to do was look at me and I would do a quick and frantic check to see if any gum was loitering somewhere in the vicinity.
But it didn’t stop me.
Nothing stopped me.
As I type this, I‘m working on yet another piece.
When I’m onto something good. I stick with it.
Pun intended.

12 comments:

  1. My mother said the same thing about the cow. :-)

    We were allowed half a stick of Juicy Fruit -- for about 10 minutes. And then we had to spit it out.

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it was juicy fruit that helped me set my record. Sugar and all . . .

      Delete
  2. I always wanted gum but it never lasted long....I'm a clumsy chewer and I would bite my tongue and inside my cheek.....damn...now I want gum.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a nervous ninny. If I]m not chewing gum, I'm chewing my lip. Gum is less painful . . .

      Delete
  3. You never learned the fine art of holding gum between cheek and gum in non chewing situations. Gum, gum, cheek sequence, unless you were left cheeked. In that case, cheek, gum, gum.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Where were you when I was going to school?!

      Delete
  4. Haha! Not sure of the origin of this, but it sounds like moms and teachers everywhere have memorized it!

    My dad and I are gum lovers, too. He used to sing the old "does your chewing gum lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight..." tune on the slightest provocation :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heehee! I have that song on a player roll for my piano!

      Delete
  5. I remember time chewing entire packages of Bazooka bubble gum, and making huge bubbles only to have them break and end up all over my face and in my hair. I still chew gum but not the bubble gum :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We get smarter as we get older. Sometimes . . .

      Delete
  6. I love gum... I always have a piece whenever possible... :)

    We had a teacher that put the gum on the end of your nose if you got caught... I never go caught :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooo! Gum on the nose? Now that might have stopped me . . .

      Delete

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