I think just about everyone can think of something that totally grosses them out, right?
You know, that one thing that totally makes you get your gag reflex on.
For Audrey it’s dirty coins (particularly pennies). For a friend of mine from college it’s gymnastics chalk. For one of my sisters-in-law it’s ketchup. For a childhood friend of mine it’s the texture of newspaper. For my brother-in-law it’s dog poop. And for my husband, Steve, it’s yellow teeth.
My gag reflex-inducing object?
(Wow, do the above mentioned people and I need to form a support group, or what?)
I don’t know how or when my aversion to gum wrappers began. I do know that I haven’t chewed a piece of gum since I had braces put at age 12.
And at some point along the way, my aversion to gum wrappers evolved into a full-out revulsion toward gum, as well.
Yes, I realize it is all very silly and completely irrational. But to me, it’s real. And it unfortunately affects the people around me.
For instance, when I am walking somewhere – anywhere – with a person I feel comfortable being myself around (crazy idiosyncrasies and all), I am on the lookout for gum and/or gum wrappers on the ground. And I make sure that neither of us steps on them with our shoes. Otherwise, I will be completely grossed out about allowing those shoes in my house.
When I am food shopping, I have to make sure that I go to a check-out aisle where neither the cashier nor the bagger is chewing gum. I can’t stand to think of any hands touching my food after they’ve touched gum and/or gum wrappers.
As you can imagine, Steve just loves this part of food shopping with me.
OK, I know this makes me sound really strange, and I’m not denying that I am. And disclosing all of this is necessary in order for you to truly understand the predicament I found myself in the other day.
You see, since no one is allowed to chew gum in my car – and I certainly am not ever chewing gum in there – I think of it as kind of a safe space.
I can clean, go barefoot, even eat in my car with the knowledge that it is gum- and wrapper-free. Sweet sanctuary!
But alas, the other day something went terribly, horribly awry in my place of gum wrapper refuge while in the drive-thru lane at Dunkin’ Donuts.
I had taken a drive to get my morning Mocha Coolatta (with dogs in tow, of course). After I made my order, I decided to get some trash together to throw in the wastebasket near the drive-thru window.
There were a few Luna Bar and straw wrappers (interestingly, these don’t bother me). A few napkins. Some old receipts.
As I gathered my trash into a little trash bag, I noticed a small, white crumpled piece of paper near the gas pedal. It looked like another straw wrapper, so I went to pick it up.
But before my bare hands made contact with it, my gum wrapper radar went off. Big time.
I quickly (remember, I was coming up on the wastebasket soon) looked down to see what I was up against. And that’s when I saw it: the word Orbit.
As in Orbit gum.
(To illustrate just how revolting this is to me, I had to stop typing this post just now so I could eat without gagging. It’s that gross to me.)
When it hit me that a gum wrapper had infiltrated my safe space, I went into full on flip-out mode. I was literally dry-heaving.
I didn’t want to have to touch it, but I knew it was up to me to get the gum wrapper out of my car. My sanity was at stake.
I grabbed a receipt, aimed it over the gum wrapper, closed my eyes and grabbed it, using the receipt as a buffer.
And uttering, “Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew!” I quickly threw it in my little trash bag.
I don’t even want to know what I looked like to the cars ahead of and behind me.
Even the dogs were looking at me like, “What the hell is wrong with you!?”
Throwing the trash bag into the wastebasket gave me such a sense of relief.
And yet, the fact that the gum wrapper had found its way into my car vexed me. How had it happened?
Once I went through the drive-thru window and had my Coolatta in hand (and still dry-heaving), I called Audrey.
“I have to share this horror story with you,” I told her. “You will not believe what I just had to get out of my car. I am still gagging.”
Just from my tone, she knew exactly what I was talking about. “A gum wrapper!? Oh no! How did it get in there!?”
And then she let me vent as I got all the heeby jeebies out of me.
So now my car is gum wrapper-free (as far as I know). I can rest easy.
And now I must be vigilant about keeping it that way.
It’s either that or find a good therapist.