The idiot's guide to gum etiquette

AIMIE CRONIN
Last updated 07:00 26/07/2014
chewing gum
REUTERS

NOBODY'S BUSINESS: If there were rules around chewing gum, removing it discreetly would be one of them.

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Apparently Sarah Jessica Parker chews gum nonstop. I read somewhere she's a pro at tucking it to the side of her mouth so you'd never know it's there.

Even when she's making out with Big, or being left at the altar, or breaking it off with Aidan, there's a wad of gum waiting in the wings.

I say, if you can operate in this manner, why not? But if you're the type who can't keep it on the down low and must incessantly chomp away at it, then a life of constant chewing is not the life for you. 

There are few things more annoying than open mouthed chewers. Nobody thinks kindly of them. 

In 2007, The Telegraph dedicated a story, just as pointless as this one, about Kate Middleton's mum chewing gum at precisely the wrong moment. 

''In the rarefied world of the House of Windsor, it was an unforgivable faux pas by a woman who might become mother of the future Queen,'' it read.''Carole Middleton, standing proudly alongside her daughter Kate, was chewing gum. Nonstop.''

Oh, the horror! God knows how the wedding went ahead after such a catastrophe, but it did take another four years and this must have had something to do with the delay. 

Here at the office, we've heard stories about grooms standing at the altar chewing gum. About older generations forbidding their children to go near the stuff, and the other day I marvelled at the fact that two packs of it cost me five bucks at the supermarket. Remember the days when it was 40 cents?

If there were to be rules around chewing gum, I would set these in stone:

1. Rid yourself of gum before any significant event.

2. Rid yourself of it if you are about to eat or drink something you want to be able to taste without an overwhelming side of mint. I went to a wine tasting recently where a person complained about the taste, then giggled that she was chewing gum so maybe that had something to do with it. I mean, really.

3. Always have a piece handy if you've eaten garlic.

4. Don't ever blow bubbles - unless you are under 12, or you really want to piss someone off. 

5. The removal of gum from the mouth must also be considered in this forum. Do it discreetly. Do not take it out and roll it between your fingers - that's just gross. Do not stick it under a table or chair. Have a napkin or an old receipt handy, then duck your head down and do it quickly. If you're desperate and have your partner handy, a sneaky kiss and transfer into his/her mouth is the perfect way to deburden yourself of troublesome gum. 

6. Don't ever, ever, ever hurph it anywhere that is not a rubbish bin - think of the poor sod who will trot on to it and send you violent thoughts.

If you can't handle the responsibility that comes with chewing gum, stop now. Switch to mints.

Got a suggestion for the Modern Manners team? Email features editor Deborah Sloan on deborah.sloan@waikatotimes.co.nz or write her c/- The Waikato Times, Private Bag 3086, Waikato Mail Centre, Hamilton 3240.

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