One of my secret joys is chewing bubble gum. Maybe it’s a link with my youth, you know, that part of me that just doesn’t want to grow up. But there is something enjoyable about chewing on a piece of bubble gum and blowing a bubble. My daughter call bubble gum an automatic smile enhancer, and who am I to argue? Try it some time if you haven’t done so lately. Chew bubble gum. Start to smile. Everything in life should be so simple.
How different all our lives might be if it weren’t for bubble gum. It was the one item your parents loved to chew as kids, but for some reason a Klingon mind-meld erased their memory, and the next thing you know they told you not to chew bubble gum because it could stick on walls, carpets and shoes was sheer hell to remove. But we kids, we chewed it anyway. Bubble gum was invented by the way, back in 1928. Created by accident by a man named Walter E. Diemer.
But who really cares about that. The important thing is that it was invented. And children the world over benefited from this man’s masterpiece. Back in the good old days (which, depending on your perspective could be last week, last month or 20 years ago) bubble gum cost a penny a piece. Individually wrapped. And inside along with the bubble gum was a comic strip. A comic strip about a little boy who chewed bubble gum. All that for a penny. And if you squinted, beneath the comic strip panels in very small print was a thought for the day. I tell you, life doesn’t get any better than that.
Well, the world has changed. It’s no longer as innocent as it once was or as we’d try to believe it was “back then”. Bubble gum no longer costs a penny. At least not that I know of. And the little comic strips and happy thoughts have – as far as I know – gone the way of the dinosaur. But even if the bubble gum I buy my kid isn’t quite what I recall it to be, it’s still a fun way to pass a few minutes or maybe even an hour.
Yet hidden in between chews of a piece of bubble gum is actually a parable for life. You probably never realized it, but as a small child, by feverishly chewing away and trying to blow the biggest bubble ever, you were really learning to cope with the disappointments of life. For every time that bubble popped, did you not chew some more, blow a little slower, concentrate a little harder until…it popped again? A better, more efficient coping mechanism has yet to be invented. And it only cost a penny.
I often wonder how someone “invents’ bubble gum. This gentleman, Walter E. Diemer, already worked for a bubble gum factory at the time. But do you know in 1928, bubble gum was white or grey and was chewy to the point of being annoying. You know how it is to chew a defective piece of gum and it sticks to your teeth or in your teeth or on the bridge of your mouth. At that point it’s no longer fun. But Diemer, darned if he didn’t experiment to come up with something a lot more user friendly.
And for that – I will always be grateful.
Now if could only get this damn gum off the bottom of my shoe…..