P’tooey

So, I learned a fun new game to play with my brain today. I had some chewing gum that I'd been chewing – some of the cheap stuff that loses its flavor after about three seconds. It had, predictably, done so. Hence, I was considering getting rid of it.My first notion was to spit it out into the trash. So, I leaned over and was about to do so, when it struck me that the can in question had no bag liner. I wouldn't really be throwing my gum away – I'd be depositing it for future generations of scientists to study in its petrified state.This seemed bad. Particularly since I'm the one that normally empties the trash in our house.So, I switched gears. I stood up straight and swallowed the gum. Or tried to.Y'see, when I went to swallow it, I found that my mouth simply wasn't interested in that scheme. The gum hadn't changed taste (it still tasted like pencil eraser – as most bad gum does after the first few seconds), but it had, somehow, changed character, in a very subtle way.It was no longer a food object. It had been reclassified as organic waste. Y'know – something you spit out.

After a few seconds, I managed to think my mouth into compliance and swallow the offending gum. But it was an interesting example of how closely those non-conscious parts of our nervous system pay attention to all the stupid stuff we do on a daily basis. Not to mention the really weird way we view what we put in our mouth.

Most of us have experienced one of those ways at some point, usually at a summer camp: the absolutely disgusting nature of spit. Not to be confused with saliva, which we put up with (and swallow) all the danged time.

Spit, on the other hand, is totally rancid and repellent. Hence, if you were to, say, spit into a spoon, and then let it sit there for five or six seconds while you thought about the fact that it was spit sitting there in that spoon, you'd probably be unable to then stick the spoon back in your mouth and swallow it. I mean, some of you contrarians out there could do it (Jeff, I'm looking at you, bud), but most of us come close to gagging at the mere thought of such a thing.

Which is, of course, a bit silly of us. Our saliva doesn't magically become more disgusting once it leaves our mouth, assuming we put it on a nice, clean surface. It isn't the spoon that bothers us – we'd have no qualms about putting that thing in our mouth and gnawing on it a bit, provided we hadn't spit on it first.

It's the spit. Because spit, like most fluids which exit our body, is icky. Not for consumption.

While interesting, and maybe even a bit amusing, there is one downside to all this talk of expectoration: I really have no way to wrap this particular article up. There's no deep insight or amusing zinger to go out with when you're talking about spit drinkers. I'm sorry, but it's true.

So, I'll leave you with this thought, instead: The column is over. There'll be more next time.

Probably on a different topic.